Avisail Garcia’s longest mini-slump of the season ended against his former team on Friday night.
Guessing nobody in Detroit is surprised. Same group probably isn’t overly shocked by Mike Pelfrey’s performance, either.
Both players came back to haunt their former team on a lengthy, rainy day as Garcia’s three-run double put Pelfrey ahead for good. Pelfrey escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and his offense erupted late as the White Sox toppled the Detroit Tigers 8-2 in front of 17,842 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Pelfrey allowed two runs (one earned) and Matt Davidson and Melky Cabrera both homered as the White Sox snapped a three-game losing streak. The teams canceled the opening game of a doubleheader and sat through an 85-minute rain delay before playing the nightcap. The doubleheader was rescheduled for Saturday and both games will be on CSN.
“I have a lot of respect for those guys,” Pelfrey said. “Those guys were great. You make friendships and you have to compete against them. It makes it tough but it’s part of the game.
The first time I faced them I put my hat down and tried not to look at them or make eye contact and try to get guys out. Make pitches.
“Luckily it worked out today.”
There was nothing lucky about Garcia’s third-inning, go-ahead double. Garcia had gone hitless in 13 at-bats dating back to his final plate appearance in Saturday night’s blowout win over Seattle. The four games without a hit (he was intentionally walked in his only plate appearance Tuesday) is the longest Garcia has gone without a knock in what has begun to look like a breakout season.
Part of the stretch could be attributed to flu-like symptoms Garcia felt throughout the previous series which resulted in him being scratched from Tuesday’s starting lineup — “in Arizona it was really, really bad,” he said.
Despite still feeling the lingering effects, Garcia came through yet again. With the bases loaded and two outs, Garcia ripped a 1-0 changeup from Detroit’s Tyler Boyd into the left-field corner to score all three runners and give the White Sox a 3-1 lead. Cabrera and Jose Abreu both singled with two outs and Todd Frazier walked ahead of the double, which exited Garcia’s bat at 114.5 mph, the 24th hardest-hit ball this season in the majors, according to BaseballSavant.com.
Garcia also bounced a pair of singles through the left side to finish 3-for-5. Acquired from the Tigers in July 2013 as part of the three-way deal that sent Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox, Garcia is slashing .295/.338/.481 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs against his former team in 228 plate appearances.
“I see them like another team, you know,” Garcia said. “My job is to try to help my team win.
“I was just trying not to do too much, I’m trying to see the ball and put a good swing on it. I think that’s it. Don’t try to do too much because sometimes when I’m trying to do too much or trying to hit it over the wall my face goes quick so I don’t see the ball really well.”
Seems like Abreu has seen everything thrown his way recently. He extended his hitting streak to seven games with three singles, all of which were rockets off the bat, and finished 3-for-5.
Cabrera has also begun to heat up. His two-out RBI single in the sixth and three-run homer in the eighth provided the White Sox with plenty of margin for error. Cabrera finished 3-for-5.
Davidson’s homer in the sixth inning, his ninth, made it a 4-2 game. He finished with two hits for the White Sox, who had 14.
Pelfrey looked good in a second straight start. He followed up a six-inning effort at Seattle by limiting a Detroit lineup sans Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera to four hits. Pelfrey walked one and struck out seven in an 86-pitch performance.
That included a fourth-inning escape from a one-out jam with the bases loaded. Pelfrey got the first out when Davidson threw home to cut down J.D. Martinez. Abreu also forced a runner out at the plate on John Hicks’ grounder and Pelfrey induced an Andrew Romine comebacker to complete the escape.
Pelfrey went 4-10 with a 5.07 ERA in 24 games (22 starts) for Detroit in 2016 and was in the final season of a two-year, $16-million deal when they released him on March 30. The White Sox signed the veteran right-hander to a minor-league deal on April 5. He improved to 2-4 and lowered his ERA to 4.41.
Chris Beck, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle and Gregory Infante combined for four scoreless innings to close it out.
“Any time you can get a win and, I guess, sit around for 12 hours or however long it’s been,” Pelfrey said. “It’s always good to come out on top.
“I’d like to have gone a little deeper, but the bullpen did a great job like always. Melky, big hit. And Avisail, pretty big hit there in the third.
“Pretty good team win.”