White Sox sweep Motor City doubleheader
DETROIT -- Erik Johnson matched a career high with nine strikeouts and limited the Tigers to two runs over six innings as the White Sox swept a split doubleheader with a 3-2 win Monday night at Comerica Park.
"I felt good. It was a good first inning to put the right foot forward, and I thought I was very aggressive in the zone with fastball, slider, change," said Johnson, who improved to 3-0 for the White Sox. "I gave up a few hits. Sometimes the aggressiveness, you're going to run into some hits here and there."
Chicago's offense provided Johnson all the support he needed early as the club took both games of a twin bill on the road for the first time since 2011. Trayce Thompson led off the second with a triple and scored on former Tiger Avisail Garcia's sacrifice fly, and Gordon Beckham belted his fifth home run two batters later. The White Sox extended their lead with Jose Abreu's RBI double in the third.
For the second time Monday, Detroit received a quality outing from a starter who took the loss. Veteran Randy Wolf labored through the first three innings but allowed just one hit after that, striking out six over seven frames in a futile effort for his first Major League win since last June.
"I felt like, if I could hold them there, we could have a chance to win, but their pitching did a good job today," Wolf said.
Alex Avila's solo shot and Ian Kinsler's sacrifice fly off Johnson cut the Tigers' deficit to one in the third, but Detroit left the bases loaded in the fourth and didn't tally another hit until the ninth inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bats quieted: The Tigers managed hits in just four of Monday's 18 innings. Following Jeff Samardzija's near-perfect game in the afternoon -- during which he allowed only a single to Victor Martinez in the fifth -- Detroit recorded three hits in the third inning, two in the fourth and one in the ninth during the nightcap.
"Probably a little credit goes to the pitchers," Avila said. "At the same time, there's got to be some blame on us to have some better at-bats."
Sound strategy: With first base open and two outs in the fourth, the White Sox decided to pitch around Avila and face Josh Wilson with the bases loaded. Avila had gone deep earlier in the game off Johnson and was 5-for-5 over his career against the righty. The strategy worked, as Wilson struck out swinging for the second straight time.
"I got Josh earlier in the game, and Avila hit that 3-2 fastball," Johnson said. "So I thought we were just playing matchups there."
Slump buster: Avila scored the Tigers' first run of the doubleheader with a towering home run off Johnson in the third inning. The ball was projected by Statcast™ to leave Avila's bat at 108 mph and land 417 feet away from home plate. The homer marked Detroit's first baserunner since the fifth inning of the afternoon game and the club's first extra-base hit since Kinsler's walk-off home run Saturday night.
"Sometimes you're able to put up a lot of runs, like we have," Avila said. "Sometimes we haven't. It's kind of frustrating that we can't be consistent."
Back to form: White Sox closer David Robertson felt as if his arm slot had been a bit high of late and made changes after talking with bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen while warming up for the ninth.
"I found a comfort zone a little lower than normal," Robertson said. "You guys probably don't notice the difference, but in my head I notice it."
Robertson had allowed seven runs in his last three appearances. But he pitched a scoreless ninth, including a game-ending strikeout of pinch-hitter Victor Martinez on a 3-2 curveball.
"I had to make a good pitch. I couldn't throw one that was up high enough that he could hit it," Robertson said. "I had to throw one that looked like a strike that wasn't a strike and get him to swing. I got lucky he didn't take it."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Avila's home run was his first since July 7, a span of 34 games and 105 plate appearances.
The White Sox played their fourth doubleheader of the season, having split with the Reds, Royals and Orioles prior to Monday's sweep. The last time the White Sox played four doubleheaders in a season was 2009.
The doubleheader sweep gave the White Sox 9,000 victories in franchise history, going along with 8,839 losses. The Giants have the most victories with 10,858.
White Sox: Jose Quintana makes another attempt at a single-season career-high 10 victories, after losing out last Thursday when Billy Butler hit a three-run, ninth-inning homer off of closer David Robertson. Quintana, who has made 23 quality starts this season, will take the mound at 6:08 p.m. CT at Comerica Park on Tuesday.
Tigers: Daniel Norris will make his second start since coming off the disabled list with an oblique strain. The left-hander, who was acquired from the Blue Jays in the David Price deal, tossed 3 2/3 innings of one-hit ball last Wednesday, and he'll be limited to about 65 pitches. Tuesday's first pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. ET
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