If the White Sox find themselves a game out of contention in September, they should look back at this one and shake their heads.
Any loss to the Tigers is borderline unacceptable. This one was positively galling.
Not only did the Sox strand 14 runners in Saturday's 4-3 defeat, their pitchers issued five walks to a team that entered the game batting .140.
"We played lousy," Frank Thomas said. "Opportunity after opportunity, we didn't come through. We're not hitting at all, and it's very contagious right now. It's sad."
There was joy in the Tigers' clubhouse, however, after Detroit won for the first time after nine losses.
"We're still 1-9, so we can't celebrate like we just won the World Series," designated hitter Shane Halter said.
Halter struck the key blow by taking Josh Stewart deep in the third inning for a three-run homer.
The inning started with Stewart walking shortstop Omar Infante, the ninth-place hitter, who's batting .143.
"Leadoff walks are unacceptable," said Stewart, who missed on a 3-1 fastball. "They always start off a big inning."
The Sox had numerous chances for big innings.
They had runners at first and second with none out in the first. But after a force play and two flyouts, they came up empty.
The Sox started the fourth with consecutive singles by Magglio Ordonez, Paul Konerko and Carlos Lee but managed not to score. Tony Graffanino, who had hit his first homer of the season two innings earlier, lined into a double play. Ordonez stranded two runners in the fifth with a check-swing grounder.
Overall the Sox went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
"We hit so well all spring and then we start the season and it seems like everyone has forgotten how to hit," Thomas said after going 0-for-3 with two walks. "It looks like everybody's defensive. We have to get going."
Carlos Lee came through with three singles but none led to a run.
The Sox finally did something in the eighth. Joe Crede came off the bench to single home two runs and cut Detroit's lead to 4-3.
But the Sox whiffed again in the ninth. With two outs, Lee singled and Graffanino got hit in the back by a Matt Anderson fastball.
Anderson then struck out Aaron Rowand on a 2-2 slider to end it. For once the Comerica Park crowd, listed at 12,985, had reason to cheer.
Although the Tigers fell two losses short of matching last season's 0-11 start, they remain the only team since 1900 to start back-to-back seasons with nine straight losses.
"It was going to eventually happen," Sox manager Jerry Manuel said. "I didn't think they would go the whole year without a win. For the most part they earned it. It wasn't a gimme-type thing, but we did leave a lot of runners on base."
The team's most, in fact, since it stranded 17 Aug. 2 against the Devil Rays.
At least that game went 12 innings. And the Sox won it 8-5.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times