Dylan Axelrod pleasantly surprised Thursday evening as he faced a stacked Yankees lineup and managed 7 innings worth of just 2 run ball. It seemed when the 9th inning began and the Sox stared up at a 3-1 deficit that he would be earning the loss despite the plus outing. But in the 9th a fielding mishap for the Yankees opened the door for Dayan Viciedo to give the Pale Hose the lead with a 3-run bomb and local boy Hector Santiago a vultured win.
White Sox (41-35): 4
Yankees (46-29): 3
You could look at the score and say for every bit of good Axelrod was, Ivan Nova was a little better, but that wouldn’t quite be accurate. The White Sox got BABiP’d, lots of balls were hit hard out of the hand of Nova but always right at defenders or to the wrong part of the field. Center field saw an awful lot of warning track shots that would have left many other ballparks, US Cellular Field included. Alejandro De Aza was trying to single handedly drive the offense to victory going 4-5 including a solo homerun that was the only visiting tally until the final frame.
And it was quite the final frame. Alex Rios lead off with a hit, his second of the night continuing his hot streak. A.J. Pierzynski followed with a sure 1-6-3 double play ball that fell apart when Clay Rapada missed the throw to second and the ball rolled into centerfield. Next up, Dayan Viciedo swung the game back in the White Sox favor with a blast to left field.
Axelrod’s surrendered runs both came in the 5th. With two outs he Curtis Granderson singled, and then back-to-back doubles from Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano plated a run each. A-Rod’s double just barely missed being caught in left center by a sprinting Alejandro De Aza, which at the time appeared to be the non-play of the game. Mark Teixeira would add an insurance run in the 8th with a solo shot off of Hector Santiago, but it would prove one insurance run short.
Plus: It may have been a little smoke and mirrors with the Yankees not having seen Axelrod before or even possessing much of a major league scouting report to go on, but he strolled up to the mound and got outs for 7 innings. Not a lot of pitchers are going to be able to come into Yankee Stadium and face that lineup for as long as he did giving up only 2 runs. The Sox fought back in a game that seemed like a sure loss but the game ball surely goes to Axelrod.
Minus: As much as I don’t like waiting for the 9th inning for the team to pounce into a winning position, I like watching Addison Reed make me nervous even less. All in all, Reed has been effective this year but for the second straight appearance he was shaky and threatened to cough up the lead. After a lead-off hit was allowed to Dewayne Wise he managed to reel it in and the final out came on a Derek Jeter short porch attempt that was missing a couple feet of distance and died, along with the Yankees hopes of victory, in the glove of Alex Rios.