DETROIT — Now the race is on!
Under a perfect summer night sky in the month of July, the Detroit Tigers made the baseball season a little more interesting to watch, in front of a full house at home at Comerica Park the Tigers defeated the Chicago White Sox 4-2 and closed the gap to just one-half game out of first place.
Detroit Tiger manager Jim Leyland said after the game that fans have to keep things in perspective and on a even keel.
“I’m not gonna get to giddy on Friday night,” Leyland said. “And I would not have been all down in the dumps had we not won.”
The frowns that appeared on the Tiger fans’ faces in the top of the third inning was quickly turned upside down in the bottom of the inning when the Tigers took the lead back from the White Sox by scoring three runs after two Tigers were retired.
Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy started the game by striking out the first five Tiger batters he faced, his fastball looked well but his command on his curveball that made his fastball that much better.
Tiger fans sat with bewilderment and worried if the Tigers were going to be able to solve Peavy’s pitches.
The Tigers found the answer in solving Peavy’s pitches.
Rookie left fielder for the Tigers Quintin Berry kept the inning going by getting close and personal to a Peavy pitch and got hit by the baseball
Miguel Cabrera stepped up to the plate and he would not be denied as he took a Peavy pitch right through the box for a single scoring Jhonny Peralta and putting the Tigers on the scoreboard.
Not to give away his at bat, Tiger first base man Prince Fielder beat the White Sox shift that they use against Fielder and he hit single into right getting Berry home for the second run of the inning.
Still with two outs the Tigers had one more batter ready to chip into the game, Delmon Young lifted a Peavy pitch into the depth of left-center field for a double and scoring Cabrera with the third run of the inning and giving the Tigers the lead.
“I just nicked Berry and Cabrera is just Cabrera,” Peavy said after the game. “I made some pitches to him and then I had to throw a strike. The cutter wasn’t good. I felt like I made a good pitch to Prince. When it’s not going your way, it is not going your way.”
Leyland agreed with Peavy.
“Guys were grinding out there at-bats,” Leyland said. “We hit some pretty damn good pitches.”
The 17th sellout crowd (44,572) of the 2012 season waited for the Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander to perform his magic with a baseball by throwing blinding fastballs and captivating curveballs.
Verlander struggled against the White Sox for three innings, the curveball did cast a hypnotic spell but the fastball seemed to wonder around the plate and looking for the strike zone searching.
Verlander started the third inning by giving up a leadoff single to Alexei Ramirez bringing up and setting the stage for the two runs that the White Sox would get off of Verlander.
Alejandro De Aza turned on a Verlander pitch and sent it toward the perfect summer night sky and the ball traveled over the right field fence and landed in the seats for his sixth home run of the season.
Verlander work eight innings and threw 121 pitches, striking out six, walking two and giving up four hits to earn his 11th win of the season and turning over the ball to Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the ninth inning and getting his 18th save of the season.
“That was fun!” Verlander said. “I was really pumped up. The crowd got into it.”
“It was a gut-wrenching game for a manager but I enjoy watching this stuff,” Leyland said. “What you saw tonight was professional sport at its best. People hyped up. A key game! Two good teams going at it.”
The first game provide fuel for the weekend and like the country superstar legend George Jones told us in his song the race is on and there is no room for second place.
The second game of the series continues Saturday night at Comerica Park in the shadow of downtown Detroit, the first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.