Omar Infante’s Critical Error Helps Chicago White Sox Inch Closer to AL Central Title

The still have 16 games left on their regular-season schedule, but the writing may be on the wall now. One day after blowing a ninth-inning lead and losing in Cleveland, the Tigers coughed up a pair of leads — 3-0 and 4-3 — with the help of some bad pitching and worse defense to drop a huge game in Chicago, 5-4. Detroit is now 2-13 in its last 15 one-run games and still has not won a one-run contest away from Detroit since July.

Detroit jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning on an RBI single by Austin Jackson and two-RBI base knock by .

But Doug Fister failed to make that lead stand up, giving three runs right back in the fourth. After working out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third, Fister nearly stranded three again the next inning. With two outs, though, he hit Gordon Beckham to force home a run, then gave up a two-RBI single to Dewayne Wise.

The Tigers retook the lead in the fifth on another RBI from Young, but more shaky pitching from Fister and another error by conspired against Detroit. Fister was pulled after giving up a single to Adam Dunn and double to Paul Konerko, and reliever Al Alburquerque walked Alex Rios to allow Chicago to load the bases for the third straight inning.

Alburquerque then got A.J. Pierzynski to line out to right and appeared to have made the pitch Detroit needed to escape the inning, as he induced a grounder to short from Dayan Viciedo. fired to Infante at second for one, but Infante, as he was taken out on by a Rios slide, threw the relay past Prince Fielder for a two-run error.

The Tigers did not get a single base runner after that, going down 1-2-3 in each of the final four innings.

Tigers’ MVP: Young.

The Tigers had their chances to blow this one wide open in the early innings, but they would not have had the leads that they did if not for a couple of clutch hits from Young. Unfortunately, none of his teammates could follow suit by driving runs home when the Tigers needed them.

Tigers’ Goat: Brennan Boesch, with an assist from Jim Leyland.

This idea that Boesch might somehow “run into one,” as Leyland likes to say, continues to push Andy Dirks to the bench against lefties. There’s no reason for it. Dirks is a better hitter overall, a better defender AND has a higher average against lefties. And as if the numbers didn’t convince Leyland of that, maybe Monday will. Boesch finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, including one with the bases loaded and two outs in the third — and the third strike there, which Boesch took a meek cut at, was clearly ball four.

Jhonny Peralta, who went 0-for-3 with a walk and two double plays, deserves a nod here as well.

What’s Next: The Tigers return to Detroit for their final homestand of the season, a 10-gamer which must produce a record somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-2 or better for the Tigers to hang in this. The problem? Up first on the stretch is Oakland, which is arguably the hottest team in baseball and will trot two pitchers with sub-2.00 ERAs out on Tuesday and Wednesday. First up is A.J. Griffin, 6-0 with a 1.94 ERA. The Tigers will counter with red-hot Max Scherzer.

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