Homers from Konerko and Beckham lead the Sox to victory. (Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE)

Much Action in Series Opener, Sox Prevail

Adam Dunn playing left field, bean balls, tackling on the bases, and a retirement. This game had a lot more going on than your average matchup.

White Sox: 3
Cubs: 2

It didn’t take long for a ball to make its way to left field, and Adam Dunn’s lack of mobility may have actually been to his benefit as he did not give aggressive chase to the wall and instead waited for a play off the wall and got the ball back to the infield. That’s the only chance he’d get as the top half of the 3rd saw a Jeff Samardzija lose control of a pitch that rose right into Konerko’s face. He appeared to be alright, but was removed from the game for medical staff to tend to his eye. Dayan Viciedo would take his place as a pinch runner, and then play LF allowing Dunn to be mercifully moved to 1B. There was some mumbling about the intention of Samardzija’s pitch, as Paulie put the Sox up 2-0 with a HR in his first at-bat. Ultimately I doubt it was an intentional play.

In the 4th, Humber threw behind LaHair, even though Samardzija was the first Cubs batter faced following the Konerko beaning. Both benches were warned. Then more controversy; David DeJesus was in the process of stretching a single to a double when Gordon Beckham leapt in his direction for the tag. DeJesus was in there, but Gordo’s momentum kept him going as he rolled DeJesus off the bag and the umpire called him out. I’ve only seen such a call once, and many off you will recall it was Kent Hrbek in the 91 World Series knocking Ron Gant off of first. In both cases, the call stood and the runner was out. Dale Svuem, understandably perturbed at the turn of events, would be thrown out of his first crosstown game as manager.

With the game tied in the 8th, Beckham struck again. A high fly ball lifted to left field just kept lifting all the way over the wall despite Soriano’s attempt to track it down and that would put the Sox up for good.

May 18, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Kerry Wood (facing forward) hugs his son Justin Wood as he comes out of the game during the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

After a Samardzija walk to Adam Dunn, Kerry Wood entered the game to make his final major league appearance, having announced his intent to retire prior to the game. He would face only one batter, a strikeout of Dayan Viciedo, and then left to a rousing ovation from fans and players alike. Kerry Wood was an amazing pitcher for a brief period when he was healthy, and baseball fans in all cities will remember the dominant performances at the front end of his career.

Today’s closer: Addison Reed. Did he get the job done? Well you saw the score. Doesn’t tell the story though. Reed retired the first two that he faced and then got Darwin Barney to pop up for what should have been the final out of the game in short right field. Rios came on, lost it in the sun, shut his glove too early and the ball bounced to the ground allowing Barney to hustle into second. Reed Johnson came on to pinch-hit and would strikeout, giving Addison Reed the save of both the game and Alex Rios‘ day.

Plus: The game was well pitched. Humber got the job done while being less than sharp and the bullpen locked it down. Also, any time Gordon Beckham shows a little power, wind aided or otherwise, I’m a happy camper.

Minus: Seeing Konerko go down in a heap is not fun for anybody, opposition included. The silver lining there are reports that Paulie has been checked and he’s experiencing no vision issues. Hopefully he doesn’t miss much time, if any.

Tipping Point
It shouldn’t serve as a surprise that that Gordo’s blast was the game changer, 28.1% in win expectancy.


Source: FanGraphs

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Tags: Adam Dunn Addison Reed Alex Rios Cubs Dale Svuem Darwin Barney David Dejesus Gordon Beckham Jeff Samardzija Kerry Wood Paul Konerko Philip Humber White Sox

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