Mahtook’s clutch hit propels Tigers past White Sox
DETROIT — Things haven’t gone well for the stripped-down Detroit Tigers this month, but for players such as Mikie Mahtook, it is seen as a time to measure yourself as a professional.
Mahtook grounded a 3-2 pitch up the middle with two outs in the ninth inning on Friday night to score rookie Jeimer Candelario from third as Detroit snapped a six-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
“It’s been a struggle,” Mahtook said, “it’s been no secret. Everybody in here, they want to do well. They want to compete. They want to play the game right.
“To come out and get a win like that, it says a lot about our guys.”
Detroit is now 3-12 since trading away Justin Upton and Justin Verlander on the last day of August and last-place Chicago stands just two games behind the Tigers in the American League Central standings.
Candelario drew a walk off former Tiger Al Alburquerque (0-2) with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Tyler Collins, whose fifth home run of the season in the seventh gave Detroit a brief 2-1 lead, walked on a 3-2 pitch by reliever Aaron Bummer.
Juan Minaya relieved and moved the runners up with a wild pitch before Mahtook delivered his game-winning single up the middle. It was his first career walk-off hit.
“I felt great all night,” said Mahtook, out since Sept. 8 with a groin strain. :Every at-bat I felt better. Even on my first at-bat, even though I didn’t swing the bat, I still felt like I saw pitches well.
“I went up the last at-bat just trying to put a good swing on it. I didn’t have to hit a home run or hit the ball really hard. I just had to find a hole and I was able to do that.”
“Obviously, Minny’s been doing a very nice job for us,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said of his last pitcher. “We’ve used him in many different roles. We’ve closed him, we’ve set him, he’s been a little bit of a fireman.
“I think he left a breaking ball out (over the plate) that — give credit to Mahtook who stayed on a pitch that was a bit over and he was able to not do too much and hit it up the middle to end the ballgame.”
Shane Greene (4-3) picked up the win after getting the last four outs despite giving up a score-tying single in the eighth.
Reliever Alex Wilson hit Jose Abreu with a pitch and Avisail Garcia beat out a high chopper to short for a single. Wilson got a lineout, but Greene yielded a score-tying ground RBI single to right to Matt Davidson.
Collins hit his home run one out into the seventh inning off Chicago reliever Gregory Infante.
The Tigers tied the score 1-1 with three singles to open the fourth — by Alex Presley, Miguel Cabrera and Nicholas Castellanos.
White Sox starter Carson Fulmer pitched through six innings, allowing four hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
Moncada slammed a 2-1 pitch into the right field seats in the third for his sixth home run of the season and second in two games against Detroit.
“He got a ball up in the zone,” Renteria said, “and was able to put a pretty good swing on it. He continues to make adjustments, continues to ... obviously, it’s not overnight, he’s been grinding through this whole time that he’s been here.
“It seems like over the last couple of weeks he’s starting to put together some at-bats where it doesn’t seem like he’s just flailing at off-speed pitches in the zone or out of the zone.
“He’s got a very good eye. He’s starting to put the bat on the baseball and do some damage.”
Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez struck out 11 in six innings, the 14th time in his career he has reached double-digit strikeouts. He allowed six hits and walked one.
Sanchez has given up 26 home runs this season. That brings his total for the last three seasons to 85.
NOTES: OF Willy Garcia, out since Aug. 1 with a concussion and broken jaw from a collision with 2B Yoan Moncada, was reinstated from the disabled list and rejoined the White Sox in Detroit. ... Detroit RHP Buck Farmer and C John Hicks were absolved of intent to hit umpire Quinn Wolcott with a pitch Wednesday in Cleveland. “I just got in the game,” Hicks said. “When were Buck and I supposed to have planned this out?” ... White Sox OF Rymer Liriano will miss three games to be with his wife for the birth of their son. ... The Tigers announced they have completed the deal for LF Justin Upton by acquiring RHP Elvin Rodriguez from the Los Angeles Angels. Rodriguez, 19, ended the season with Class A Burlington. ... Tigers INF Dixon Machado was reinstated from the paternity list.