In the fourth inning, Bartolo Colon struck out one batter with a curveball, another on a tailing fastball and a third with an 83 m.p.h. changeup.
Colon can still blow hitters away with a triple-digit heater, but now he's equally content to reach into his bag of tricks.
"Before, everything [he threw] was hard," said Sandy Alomar Jr., who also caught Colon when they were teammates in Cleveland. "He used to rely on a four-seam fastball and a little breaking ball. Now his curveball is a lot better and a little slower. That tricks some hitters."
Colon did plenty of that Sunday in the White Sox's 3-2 victory over the Tigers.
He struck out nine batters and threw six scoreless innings before giving up a pair of runs in the seventh.
Then the Sox's bullpen finished the job. Damaso Marte struck out two in the eighth and closer Billy Koch recovered from a leadoff walk in the ninth to Carlos Pena.
Craig Paquette grounded into a double play on Koch's next pitch. Then Eric Munson flied out to end the game.
"I'll take three outs on two pitches after a walk any day," Koch said.
The victory improved the Sox to 7-5, not bad considering their season-opening sweep at the hands of Kansas City.
The Royals, who finally lost Sunday to fall to 9-1, visit Chicago for a three-game series starting Tuesday.
Look for a small change in the Sox's lineup.
Frank Thomas will return after being rested Sunday. But Aaron Rowand, in the midst of a 2-for-18 slump, will likely give way to fellow center fielder Armando Rios, who went 2-for-4 Sunday with an RBI single.
"I'll probably run [Rios] out there Tuesday to see if he can keep his little streak going," manager Jerry Manuel said. "I still really believe that Rowand is our center fielder, but if this guy (Rios) is hot and driving in runs, then I have to go with him."
Said Rios: "I'm not in a position to be saying, 'I should do this, I should do that.' We've got good players here and I'm sure he'll run out there whoever's hot. Of course I want it to be me all year. If not, I'll be ready to pinch hit."
With the Sox leading 1-0 in the seventh, Rios stroked a single to left that scored Brian Daubach and moved Carlos Lee to third.
Joe Crede then hit a liner to right field. Bobby Higginson made a strong throw to the plate, but Lee collided with catcher Brandon Inge, dislodging the ball and scoring the Sox's third run. It proved to be just enough.
The Sox blew three other prime scoring opportunities.
They came up empty in the second after the first two batters reached. They stranded D'Angelo Jimenez in the sixth after his leadoff triple and left Rios at third in the ninth after a one-out popup by Alomar.
"We're really working together on that," Manuel joked.
"A real team effort. It's, 'You leave him over there, now I'll leave him over there.'
"I think that will improve."
It better.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun