DETROIT -- Dylan Axelrod didn’t have his best fastball on Wednesday night and the Detroit Tigers didn’t relent.
Prince Fielder homered and the Tigers finished with 15 hits as they outslugged the White Sox 8-5 in front of 39,085 at Comerica Park.
Axelrod allowed seven runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings as the White Sox lost for the sixth time in eight games. They trail the first-place Tigers by 14 games in the American League Central.
“Axe wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s a tough lineup to go through if you’re not going to be sharp. They pick you apart, squeeze you, make you throw it over the plate. It’s not an easy one to go through.”
Per Brooksbaseball.net, Axelrod’s four-seasm fastball averaged 86.4 mph. This season, he has averaged 87.7 mph per Fangraphs. Puzzled by the mileages displayed at the stadium because his arm feels fine, Axelrod said he saw even lower numbers throughout his start.
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“I didn’t feel like (velocity was down) but I noticed it out there,” Axelrod said. “I feel fine. I don’t know if the gun was right on or if it was low or what but I felt fine. It’s just one of those things, you can’t throw 84 or 85 to big league hitters and expect to throw it by them. I don’t know if that was really what I was throwing or what. I’m kind of scratching my head with that one too.”
Fielder’s two-homer in the first inning got the Tigers started.
Combined with Austin Jackson’s second-inning RBI triple and Alex Avila’s two-run single, Detroit had a 5-1 lead after three innings.
The Tigers scored three more times in the sixth inning on RBI singles by Miguel Cabrera, Fielder and Victor Martinez to take an 8-3 lead.
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It was the sixth rough start in a row for Axelrod, who pitched very well in back-to-back starts at Oakland (May 31) and Seattle (June 5). Since then Axelrod is 0-2 with a 9.32 ERA in six starts as he has allowed 29 earned runs, 53 hits and 11 home runs in 28 innings.
“It’s kind of frustrating where I look back and it just isn’t going my way,” Axelrod said. “There’s a few things I have put my finger on, but at the same time it’s frustrating because I feel like I haven’t changed much from where I was. I’ve just got to keep pressing on and it’ll turn around.”
One game after they established season highs with 11 runs and 23 hits, the White Sox brought their bats again.
Conor Gillaspie and Gordon Beckham each had solo home runs. Alexei Ramirez doubled in a run and Dayan Viciedo, who reached base three times, singled in another. Beckham also had a sacrifice fly for the White Sox, who had 12 men reach base.