Fiers is hot in debut as Tigers sweep White Sox
Chicago — Mike Fiers — or “Fire Dog,” as manager Ron Gardenhire called the veteran right-hander before Sunday’s game — had himself a memorable debut for the Tigers.
After starting the season on the disabled list with lower back strain, Fiers pitched six shutout innings Sunday and the Tigers left the South Side of Chicago with a three-game sweep — beating the Chicago White Sox 1-0.
With closer Shane Greene on the mound in the ninth inning, Avisail Garcia reached on an error by third baseman Jeimer Candelario. Candelario made a slick backhand play, but lost the handle when he tried to transfer the ball to his throwing hand.
But Greene induced a 6-4-3 double play by slugger Jose Abreu and struck out Matt Davidson looking at a 95-mph fastball.
BOX SCORE: Tigers 1, White Sox 0
The Tigers run, off White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez, was unearned and it came in the first inning.
Leonys Martin singled, one of just two hits the Tigers managed all game. He stole second and went to third on a passed ball. Miguel Cabrera brought him home with a sacrifice fly to center.
That was all the offense the Tigers could muster, even though Lopez walked five in his seven innings. Only one of those runners got as far as second base.
But on this day, one run was enough.
Fiers, whose fastball maxed out at 89 mph, located and mixed his pitches masterfully, keeping the White Sox hitters off balance. He allowed three singles, none after the third inning, and struck out six.
He got 15 swings and misses (seven off his four-seam fastball) and 15 called strikes (10 off his four-seamer).
The only time Fiers was in trouble was the first inning. He hit Jose Abreu and walked Matt Davidson after allowing a one-out single to Avisail Garcia. But he got Nicky Delmonico to hit a soft liner that shortstop Jose Iglesias ran down and ended the threat by getting a soft ground ball from Welington Castillo.
The White Sox never threatened him after that. Fiers retired the last 11 batters he faced, and 16 of the last 18.
The Tigers bullpen, which had allowed just three runs in the last 19 innings coming in, locked it down.
Alex Wilson and Daniel Stumpf worked a scoreless seventh and Joe Jimenez pitched an impressive eighth — striking out Sanchez on a wicked slider and Yoan Moncada looking at a 95-mph fastball.
That left the ninth to Greene.
Former Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon, called up from Triple-A by the White Sox Sunday, struck out all four batters he faced. He got Cabrera to end the eighth, his fastball hitting 100 mph. Then fanned Nick Castellanos, Niko Goodrum and Mikie Mahtook in the ninth.
The Tigers stole two bases in the game, giving them seven in the series.