by Ted Cox
Fortunately for the Sox, it was famine then feast. The first five innings couldn't have been more aggravating against Detroit starter Rick Porcello. The Sox got the leadoff man on base in three of those innings, and each time left him stranded at third; they left another stranded in scoring position at second. For anyone doubting the Sox, and that included plenty of the 30,287 in attendance, it made them seem more doubtful than ever.
Meanwhile Jose Quintana was scuffling, even though, with his deceptive, hesitating pitching motion, he was facing the Tigers for the first time and figured to have the advantage over them. He gave up four singles in the second and was lucky to escape with just one run scoring. He walked leadoff man Austin Jackson in the third, after getting ahead of him 0-2, and gave up another hit to Sox killer Ryan Raburn, at which point manager Robin Ventura had the bullpen up in this critical American League Central battle. Yet, when Quintana produced a double play off the bat of the Tigers' feared Miguel Cabrera, and struck out Prince Fielder looking, it began a sequence in which he'd retire 16 of 17 and, at one point, ten in a row.
By the time Quintana walked a man in the eighth and turned the game over to the bullpen, the Sox had it in hand, 4-1.
The big inning was the sixth. Dewayne Wise reached on an error—one of three Detroit miscues—went to third when he was running on a single by Paul Konerko, then all scored on a homer to left field off a hanging Porcello slider by the resurgent Alex Rios. A.J. Pierzynski followed with a back-to-back jack over the center-field fence to make it 4-1. Gordon Beckham tacked on two more with a homer in the eighth off Octavio Dotel to make the final 6-1.
Six runs, all on homers. Talk about feast or famine.
Suddenly, with their three errors, it was the Tigers who looked like pretenders. The Sox moved three games ahead of them in the AL Central and lowered their magic number—yes, it's time to begin the countdown—to 20.
With Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, and Chris Sale lined up to start the rest of the series, it would be nice if the Sox could keep the reading on "feast," as a sweep would all but put the division away. Tuesday, however, is another day—for both teams.