The Detroit Tigers created a mess in the first inning.
Actually, the entire game felt like a mess.
The Tigers were embarrassed by the Chicago White Sox in a 12-3 loss Friday at Comerica Park. Left-hander Joey Wentz allowed five runs in four innings, inflaming his ERA to 7.80 through 10 starts. The offense collected three hits and seven walks while finishing 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
“I thought I sucked,” Wentz said. “I’ve been pretty bad recently.”
Position player Zack Short even allowed a run while throwing 14 pitches on mop-up duty in the ninth inning.
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The Tigers (23-26) played without manager AJ Hinch. He traveled to Houston and attended his daughter’s high school graduation. Bench coach George Lombard managed in his place for the second time in his two-plus seasons.
“It’s fun to be out there and compete with the guys,” Lombard said. “I trust our guys to bounce right back and have a good game.”
In the top of the first, the White Sox scored three runs and forced Wentz to throw 28 of his 80 pitches.
Tim Anderson and Andrew Benintendi opened the game with a single and a walk, respectively; then Andrew Vaughn cashed in for a 1-0 lead with a two-out double over the outstretched glove of right fielder Matt Vierling. Yasmani Grandal, the next batter, drove in two runs with a single for a 3-0 advantage.
All three hits came off Wentz’s fastball.
“My curveball felt fine,” Wentz said. “My cutter wasn’t very good. My changeup was probably below average. Obviously, I wasn’t very good. They got me early.”
In the bottom of the first, the Tigers loaded the bases with no outs against right-hander Lance Lynn and scored one run. Spencer Torkelson struck out swinging, Nick Maton lined out, Akil Baddoo hit an infield single and Miguel Cabrera struck out looking on a pitch outside the strike zone.
The single from Baddoo plated McKinstry, who drew a walk as the leadoff hitter, for the Tigers’ first run, but more runs should have been scored before Lynn settled in. The Tigers also stranded runners on the corners in the third inning when Javier Báez struck out swinging.
McKinstry finished 1-for-2 with three walks.
“He’s been on base 18 times in the last six games,” Lombard said. “He’s been awesome at the top (of the batting order).”
Another bad outing
In his 10th start this season, Wentz allowed five runs on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts in four innings.
The 25-year-old owns a miserable 14.54 ERA with three walks and eight strikeouts over 8⅔ innings (14 earned runs) in his past three starts. This time, he completed at least three innings for the first time since May 8.
“I see it as all pretty bad,” Wentz said. “I think I’ve had some good starts this year, and I’ve had more bad ones. I think there’s some stuff that I need to figure out and do better. That’s kind of what I think.”
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Wentz, who threw 50 of 80 pitches for strikes, didn’t crumble after the three-run first inning, and in some ways he improved as his start went along, but he still gave up one run in the second inning and one run in the fourth inning.
“There were times in the game where I felt pretty good, felt decent,” Wentz said. “I guess that’s a positive. After the first, I thought things were better, but that doesn’t really help the fact, either.”
Right-handed reliever Mason Englert put himself in a hole in the fifth inning by walking Luis Robert on six pitches to begin his outing. Yoan Moncada hammered a middle-middle changeup for an RBI triple and a 6-1 lead for the White Sox.
Andrew Vaughn pushed the lead to 8-1 with a two-run home run to left-center field off Englert’s changeup. Of the four hits in Englert’s two innings, three of those hits were against his revered changeup.
Englert escaped back-to-back one-out singles in the sixth inning.
“Tough outing,” Lombard said, “but it was really good to see him come back with a shut-down inning.”
The White Sox went ahead 11-3 in the eighth inning with three runs against left-handed reliever Tyler Alexander. Hanser Alberto drove in one run, followed by Moncada’s two-run single.
Moncada went 3-for-5 with three RBIs.
In the sixth inning, the Tigers tacked on their second and third runs of the game in Lynn’s final frame.
Lynn allowed three runs (one earned run) on three hits and five walks with five strikeouts in six innings, throwing 58 of 104 pitches for strikes. He walked too many, but the Tigers didn’t take advantage.
“Lance throws a ton of heaters at the top of the zone,” Lombard said. “You would really like to scratch across a couple more in the first.”
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The Tigers scored their second run when Cabrera worked a bases-loaded walk and scored their third run when Vierling grounded into a double play. Jake Rogers struck out swinging to end the sixth inning.
Greene produced the only extra-base hit for the Tigers with a double in the first inning.
Contact Evan Petzold at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers waste early chances in 12-3 loss to Chicago White Sox