Miguel Cairo has enough on his plate. He’ll leave the scoreboard watching to others, because he’s got enough on his plate managing a team for the first time. And in a pennant chase, no less.
“No. I’ve got to concentrate on this one,” Cairo said when asked if he’d sneak a peek at the Guardians-Twins scores this weekend. “This game, every game is important. Every game you’ve got to go about your business. Whatever happens, happens. We’ve got to take care of [Tigers right-hander Mattt] Manning today and go from there.”
Cairo was right. The Sox needed to take care of Manning but got shut out for seven innings by the 25-year-old right-hander in a stinging 3-2 loss in 10 innings to the Tigers (55-89), one of baseball’s worst teams. Scoreboard watchers saw the American League Central leading Guardians erasing a 3-0 deficit for a riveting 4-3 win.
At Comerica Park, the last-place Tigers won when free runner Ryan Kreidler scored from third on Victor Reyes’ sacrifice fly against closer Liam Hendriks. Kreidler got to third on a sacrifice bunt by Willi Castro, who was safe at first on Hendriks’ throw in the dirt.
The Tigers led 2-0 on Jonathan Schoop’s homer against reliever Jimmy Lambert with two outs in the sixth, and the Sox tied it in the eighth on Jose Abreu’s two-run double down the third base line against reliever Joe Jimenez, scoring Josh Harrison and Elvis Andrus.
The score remained tied in the bottom of the inning when Sox reliever Joe Kelly struck out Spencer Torkelson on a breaking pitch that bounced off catcher Yasmain Grandal’s shin guard toward the front of the mound, giving an aggressive Javy Baez a chance to score from third. But Kelly scooped the ball and flipped it with his glove to Grandal, who tagged out Baez for the third out.
The Sox were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, the most painful one seeing pinch runner Luis Robert not moving from second in the 10th as Alex Lange struck out Harrison, Andrus and Yoan Moncada in order.
The Tigers were trying drop the Sox four games behind the Guardians and five down in the loss column with 17 to play.
The Sox, who beat the Guardians in a one-game stop at Cleveland Thursday to get within three games, had won six of eight games and 11 of 15 in a desperate push to save a disappointing season. They have three games left against the Guardians, Tuesday through Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Needing at least two wins and flirting with thoughts of a three-game sweep against a 54-89 team they had beaten five times in a row at Comerica Park, the Sox had one of their worst offensive nights of the month.
Cairo pulled Giolito after Baez tripled to the right-center field wall with two outs in the fifth and Jimmy Lambert proved him right by striking out Tigers cleanup man Eric Haase. Baez scored the Tigers’ run against Giolito in the first when he singled with two outs, moved up on a walk to Haase and scored on Spencer Torkelson’s single.
Giolito, the Opening Day starter who has regressed to No. 5 starter status, needed 96 pitches to navigate 4 2/3 innings, walking three and allowing four hits.
The young Guardians (77-66), beating the Twins in the first of a five-game series in Cleveland, got back on the winning track after seeing their six-game losing streak halted by the Sox Thursday.
“They’re a very athletic club they’re really good defensively, they play smart and have a really good bullpen,” Sox coach Jerry Narron said. “They don’t hit the ball out of the park but they generate runs going first to third, scoring from first on a double because they’re so athletic. We were talking about the Guardians lineup and they run out the same lineup every day.”