McCann's walk-off HR caps late Tigers rally
DETROIT -- Victor Martinez's game-tying, bases-clearing double in the eighth set up catcher James McCann's walk-off home run an inning later as the Tigers beat the White Sox, 5-4, on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.
The Tigers managed very little against Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija until the eighth, when Martinez's line drive into the right-center-field gap scored three runs and tied the game at 4. McCann lined an 0-2 splitter from reliever Zach Putnam over the left-field fence to seal the win, which was Detroit's first this year in 31 attempts when trailing after seven innings. It marked McCann's second career walk-off home run.
"Those are the swings that 30, 40 years from now, I'll be able to smile about," McCann said. "I won't remember the tough at-bats; I'll remember those ones."
Melky Cabrera's second home run of the season deep into the left-field seats highlighted the White Sox two-run fourth inning. They added a pair in the sixth, which center fielder Adam Eaton led off with a triple -- his ninth extra-base hit of the month. The four-run cushion seemed like plenty for Samardzija, who allowed just two hits through seven innings, but the Tigers pounced in the eighth to spoil an otherwise stellar outing.
"To snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, I thought it was a real big win," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Victor comes through: First baseman Miguel Cabrera struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, but Martinez quickly made that a moot point. The designated hitter swung at the first pitch he saw from Samardzija and lined it into the right-center-field gap, clearing the bases and ending Samardzija's afternoon.
"If I get ahold of one, I can hit it out of the park," Martinez said, "but that's not my game." More >
It's all right for Melky: Cabrera struggled mightily from the right side of the plate early this season, going 4-for-50 at one point. But his fourth-inning blast off David Price was a sign of a continued turnaround for the switch-hitter, who is 10 for his last 21 against left-handed pitchers after his three-hit effort in the series finale. Both of Cabrera's homers this season have come against the Tigers.
Not David's day: After allowing a leadoff triple in the sixth inning, Price quickly got ahead with an 0-2 count on Jose Abreu. But after the designated hitter fouled off three pitches, Price plunked Abreu, who later scored on Adam LaRoche's sacrifice fly as part of a two-run frame that gave the White Sox a 4-0 lead.
"If you look at his numbers, yeah, it's not vintage David Price -- four runs in six innings," McCann said. "But you also look at the hits they had. … Did he pitch bad? No, not by any means. Just one of those days when things weren't going his way."
Great start, rough finish: Samardzija did not have an individual inning pitch count greater than 16 prior to the eighth, when the Tigers scored four times. In that frame, Samardzija lost a 10-pitch battle to Jose Iglesias when he walked him on a borderline deciding fastball at 95 mph and then hit Ian Kinsler on a 1-1 offering to force home the first run before Martinez tied the game two batters later.
"You have to be on your game all the time. You know that at any time they can put up a crooked number," said Samardzija of the Tigers' offense. "From two through probably seven they can do that. Like I said, you just have to go out there and make your pitches, the same ones you made earlier in the game. You leave an offspeed pitch up to the leadoff guy McCann, and he gets on. Then it goes from there. It's tough." More >
"Surreal. I knew that when I got to home plate, I had to jump and give Miggy a high five, because last time [I hit a walk-off] I missed him. So I knew I had to connect on the high five, but other than that, I don't even really remember."
-- McCann, on celebrating his walk-off shot
"You can look at any game and pick out specific moments maybe that change the outcome, but obviously the most glaring is the pitch I threw to McCann. I thought it was a pretty good pitch. It could have been better, but it certainly could have been a lot worse. I tip my hat to him."
-- Putnam, on the deciding splitter to McCann
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Price had surrendered two earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts before Sunday. His four earned runs allowed were the most since May 8 against the Royals.
White Sox: Career start No. 100 for Chris Sale could be an historic one Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. CT in St. Louis, as the southpaw tries to join Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers to record 10-plus strikeouts in eight straight games. The three-time All-Star already has put up 10-plus strikeouts in seven straight starts, adding his name to a list of Hall of Famers in Martinez, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson as the only others to reach such lofty heights.
Tigers: After missing his last start with back stiffness, Justin Verlander is expected to start Tuesday when Detroit welcomes the Pirates to Comerica Park. The right-hander began the season on the disabled list with a right triceps strain and has made two starts this year. He allowed six runs to the Yankees on June 19, when he began experiencing the discomfort in his back. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 ET.
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