CHICAGO – Three straight balls put Gavin Sheets in a hitter’s count in the bottom of the first inning. He received the green light to swing and hammered Detroit Tigers rookie right-hander Garrett Hill’s fourth pitch of the at-bat for a three-run home run.
“The 3-0 count to Sheets was the first critical mistake,” manager AJ Hinch said, “where you fall behind a guy who can free up and hit the ball out of the ballpark. And he did.”
Those runs were more than enough for the Chicago White Sox. Still, the reigning American League Central champions tacked on three more runs in the second inning before adding two runs in the sixth.
The Tigers’ winning streak was snapped at six games as they lost, 8-0, to the White Sox in the third of four games at Guaranteed Rate Field. Detroit dropped to 36-48 overall but has a 12-8 record since June 18.
Position player Kody Clemens pitched a perfect eighth.
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Making his second MLB start, Hill needed 56 pitches to complete the first six outs: 35 pitches in the three-run first inning and 21 pitches in the three-run second. He settled down and kept the White Sox from scoring in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
His opposition, 36-year-old right-hander Johnny Cueto, dominated the Tigers across eight scoreless innings. Cueto, who signed a minor-league contract in April, gave up five hits and struck out five batters without issuing a walk.
Cueto tossed 66 of 101 pitches for strikes.
“He was good,” Hinch said. “It was his day. We didn’t do a ton against him to stress him. He made pitches. The ball moves. He disrupts timing with the quick pitch, the slow pitch and everything in between. He’s a veteran guy who’s evolved. … He controlled the entire day. “
The first four hits against Cueto were singles: Victor Reyes (first inning), Jonathan Schoop (second inning), Tucker Barnhart (third inning) and Jeimer Candelario (fifth inning). Spencer Torkelson doubled with two outs in the eighth.
Cueto – an All-Star in 2014 and 2016 – retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced.
Entering Saturday’s game, Cueto had a 3.30 ERA in his first season with the White Sox. After ripping apart the Tigers, he lowered the mark to 2.91 though 11 games (10 starts) in 2022.
“I was in Cincinnati in ’14 when he won 20 (games),” Barnhart said. “Other than the velocity being a tick down from where it was then, it seems like he’s the same guy. He has the same good changeup and makes you work. He works both sides of the plate with all his pitches, and it’s a challenge. . “
Hill allowed six runs on six hits and two walks with one strikeout, throwing 64 of 97 pitches for strikes. After Yoan Moncada’s walk in the third inning, the 26-year-old retired nine straight to end his outing.
“Our day tomorrow is different if Garrett doesn’t get through five (innings),” Hinch said. “I liked how he made some adjustments and started being more aggressive with the strike zone and not getting into bad counts against their power hitters.”
Sox sock ’em early
In the first inning, Hill put two runners on with two outs.
Sheets rewarded Chicago’s offense with a three-run home run on a sinker inside the strike zone in a three-ball count. Andrew Vaughn (double) and Luis Robert (walk) also scored for a 3-0 advantage.
The White Sox weren’t done.
“I was trying to hit the edges too much,” Hill said.
The first and second innings required mound visits from pitching coach Chris Fetter. Both visits sparked the final out in each inning. In the second, Hill recorded the first two outs on eight pitches before falling apart against the next four batters.
Tim Anderson doubled, Vaughn was hit by a pitch, Robert ripped an RBI single and Jose Abreu doubled on a first-pitch sinker to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. The double from Abreu cleared the bases and drove in two runs for a 6-0 lead. The ball traveled over Willi Castro’s head after the right fielder took a bad route.
“From my perspective, in his first start, it seemed like he pitched to contact,” Barnhart said. “Today, he seemed like he was trying to pitch away from contact a little bit. It’s just a learning experience to see that in the third, fourth and fifth inning, he was able to pitch to weak contact.”
Hill started the third by walking Yoan Moncada on eight pitches, but he retired the next three opponents. He threw 24 pitches to four batters in the third, six pitches to three batters in the fourth and 11 pitches to three batters in the fifth.
For his 97 pitches, Hill fired 49 sinkers, 16 changeups, 16 cutters, 14 curveballs and two four-seam fastballs. He recorded six swings and misses – two sinkers, one cutter, one curveball and two four-seamers – along with 13 called strikes.
“He doesn’t change,” Hinch said. “He’s very prepared. He’s very under control. He knows what he’s trying to do. He’s not defeated. He doesn’t pout. He doesn’t complain a lot. I think he wanted to get his outs, and we needed him to. do that. “
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A couple more runs
The White Sox added two runs in the sixth inning off right-handed reliever Will Vest.
Anderson delivered a one-out RBI single into center field, and Chicago’s other run scored on a wild pitch for an 8-0 margin. Vest allowed two runs on three hits with three strikeouts.
Right-hander Jason Foley pitched a scoreless seventh inning.
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