Detroit Tigers shut out Chicago White Sox 9-0
Sox have trouble coping with Tigers' speed
Starter Jose Contreras. (AP / Paul Sancya)
Unfortunately for the Sox, the Tigers exploited them Wednesday in a 9-0 loss in the same manner the Rays can.
For starters, the Tigers stole two bases, including a Josh Anderson theft in the fifth inning that helped snap a scoreless tie.
Miguel Cabrera, who had the other stolen base, ignited a three-run sixth with a leadoff home run off Jose Contreras.
The speedy Anderson also laid down a bunt that extended the sixth-inning rally.
In addition, reliever Mike MacDougal's control struggles resurfaced as the Tigers scored four runs off him in two innings. Manager Ozzie Guillen took the blame for not pulling MacDougal following the seventh after he had allowed only one run.
These are bad omens as the Sox head to St. Petersburg, where they dropped two consecutive games in the AL Division Series last October despite holding leads in each of those losses and stranding 11 runners in the second one.
The Rays are 12-for-12 on stolen base attempts in their first eight games this season after stealing four in the fourth game of the ALDS that eliminated the Sox.
"They have a great, balanced ballclub," Guillen said. "That's why they're winning."
The Sox believe they're in better shape than they were entering the ALDS, when they became the first team in major-league history to win each of their final three games against different opponents just to reach the playoffs.
"The Rays were a better team," Guillen said. "They were on fire, playing well and not beating themselves. We played for 11/2 weeks where we had to max out. They got big hits against us. I think we were mentally tired and down because all the grinding we put up in 11/2 weeks."
The Sox will need to rediscover their clutch hitting. They were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, including the first five at-bats when the game was scoreless against crafty Tigers starter Armando Galarraga.
"I'm sure it's frustrating for everyone around here, but [Galarraga] pitched great," Josh Fields said. "Every pitch that he needed to make, he made it. And it's not by mistake. He did it his first game, too, [against Texas]."
The margin of defeat made Contreras' outing worse than it actually was, although he walked two batters before Placido Polanco hit a two-run double in the fifth.
"When we start winning when I pitch, everything will be complete," Contreras said.