CHICAGO — Three straight balls put Gavin Sheets in a hitter’s count at 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.
Those runs were more than enough for the Chicago White Sox. Still, the reigning American League Central champions tackled 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.
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, I lowered the mark to 2.91 though 11 games (10 starts) in 2022.
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.
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.
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. The ball traveled over Willi Castro’s head after the right fielder took a bad route.
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. I have recorded six swings and misses — two sinkers, one cutter, one curveball and two four-seamers — along with 13 called strikes.
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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.
Contact Evan Petzold at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism