Detroit Tigers finish 2021 season with 5-2 win against Chicago White Sox

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CHICAGO — The Detroit Tigers completed their 2021 season on a high note.

While sitting four regulars — Miguel Cabrera, Jeimer Candelario, Jonathan Schoop and Robbie Grossman — the Tigers received six innings of one-run ball from starter Tyler Alexander.

The crafty left-hander didn't get much run support, but Daz Cameron came to the rescue in the top of the ninth inning. As the late afternoon rainfall intensified, the rookie drilled a go-ahead solo home run over the right-field wall, helping the Tigers to a 5-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Tigers finish with a 77-85 record and possession of third place in the American League Central. Right-handed reliever Michael Fulmer notched his 14th save to complete the win in the season finale.

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Detroit Tigers' Akil Baddoo (60) celebrates in the dugout after he scores during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Chicago.
Detroit Tigers' Akil Baddoo (60) celebrates in the dugout after he scores during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Chicago.

Playing his final game as a rookie, 23-year-old Akil Baddoo helped break a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning. He singled off reliever Michael Kopech, who replaced starter Dylan Cease, and picked up his 18th stolen base.

Baddoo then advanced to third on Isaac Paredes' flyout to left. An ensuing sacrifice fly from Harold Castro, a solid situational hitter, gave the speedy Baddoo enough time to dash home for a 2-1 lead.

Alexander kept the White Sox at bay in the sixth and marched off the mound. Manager AJ Hinch replaced him with righty reliever Drew Hutchison for the seventh inning.

Facing Hutchison, the White Sox needed just two batters — Adam Engel and Andrew Vaughn — to even the score. Engel opened the bottom of the seventh with a double, followed by Vaughn's RBI single to right.

Hutchison loaded the bases before escaping with an inning-ending double play.

Right-hander Joe Jimenez walked one and struck out two to complete a scoreless eighth inning. Cameron's home run off White Sox reliever Reynaldo Lopez gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead, and Dustin Garneau added an RBI double for protection.

Baddoo's sacrifice fly made it 5-2.

Trading runs

The Tigers and White Sox went back and forth in the first inning, with both teams scoring one run.

In the top of the first, the Tigers scored on a Harold Castro two-out triple, followed by Eric Haase's power stroke.

On the first pitch he saw, Haase doubled to right for a 1-0 lead.

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Detroit Tigers' Harold Castro hits a sacrifice fly RBI during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Chicago.
Detroit Tigers' Harold Castro hits a sacrifice fly RBI during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Chicago.

The White Sox countered in the bottom half, as Luis Robert smashed an 2-0 sinker for a 430-foot home run. The ball traveled with an insane 117.7 mph exit velocity. (The second highest exit velocity Sunday — 107.5 mph — came from Willi Castro on a fourth-inning groundout.)

It was Robert's 13th home run in 68 games.

Cease finished Sunday's start with a 1.17 ERA in four outings against the Tigers this season. In the final matchup, he allowed one run on four hits and two walks over four innings. He struck out five, throwing 44 of 69 pitches for strikes.

Alexander strong

The White Sox had their best chance to chase Alexander in the fifth inning.

The ex-reliever allowed singles to Engel, Cesar Hernandez and Tim Anderson. But between the singles from Engel and Hernandez, Vaughn grounded into a double play. Although the next two batters reached, Alexander wiggled out of the jam — with help from pitching coach Chris Fetter's mound visit — by retiring Robert.

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Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tyler Alexander (70) delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Chicago.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tyler Alexander (70) delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Chicago.

Alexander allowed one run on four hits and two walks over six innings, adding four strikeouts. He tossed 58 of 85 pitches for strikes and concluded his season with a 3.81 ERA in 106⅓ innings. This year, the 27-year-old split time between the starting rotation and bullpen.

For his 85 pitches, Alexander mixed in 22 sinkers (26%), 18 cutters (21%), 18 changeups (21%), 16 sliders (19%) and 11 four-seam fastballs (13%). He got eight swings and misses, including four with his slider.

Since the beginning of September, Alexander recorded a 2.56 ERA, 11 walks and 26 strikeouts over 31⅔ innings in seven games (six starts).

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers finish 2021 season with win against Chicago White Sox