For days avid baseball fans have been begging for the return of meaningful games to resume. When Friday night’s matchup between the White Sox and Royals hit the 5 hour mark, watchers were begging for the game to come to an end. It took 14 innings for things to finally wrap up. In a game where both Bruce Chen and Jose Quintana had short nights, the bullpens were taxed heavily. The starters combined for 9.2 innings, while the bullpens nearly doubled the workload with 18.1.
White Sox (48-38): 9
Royals (37-48): 8
The bats started early for the Sox. Adam Dunn may not have had the opportunity to get in the game on Tuesday, but in his first at-bat at Kauffman Stadium on Friday he showed why he was on the All-Star team in the first place by pulling a long bomb to right field. Alex Rios also took advantage of his first at-bat of the second half to show that there would be no rust for him following the gap in action when he took Chen deep himself to stretch the Sox lead to 3-0. Both sides utilized the long ball in regulation, Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur each contributed solo shots off of Quintana, and Dayan Viciedo hit a 3 run shot, which at the time looked like it might be the difference. Clearly it was not.
Everybody in the bullpen got a shot, including Jhan Marinez, part of the return for allowing Ozzie Guillen out of his contract to finally come through on his threats to go to Miami, making his White Sox debut. He went 1.2 innings, allowed 2 hits and 0 runs.
Both sides saw their closers blow save opportunities. First up, big Jonathan Broxton came on in the 9th to lock it down for Kansas City, but Kevin Youkilis opened up the inning with a base hit and walks to Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko followed. The latter being a bit of a gift from home plate umpire Chris Guccione. 3 of the 4 pitches Paulie saw were probably low strikes, but Guccione didn’t like any of them and the bases were loaded. After Alex Rios popped out, A.J. Pierzynski stroked a base hit to tie the game, though Orlando Hudson, who had pinch run for Adam Dunn was thrown out at home trying to test Francoeur’s arm, which isn’t usually recommended. In the 12th, following a Gordon Beckham RBI double Addison Reed would come in and fail to lock the game down as well.
Finally, in the 14th inning, Kevin Youkilis would drive Gordo in on a sacrifice fly, extending his RBI streak to 8 straight games. This was apparently what the Sox were waiting for. Dylan Axelrod, who came in to pitch the final 2 innings, earned the win, and White Sox Nation was permitted to finally go to bed.
Plus: It seem s like a weird thing, but it matters that the White Sox were not had by Bruce Chen. Certain things seem to plague this team, trips to Minnesota always being one of them, and particularly unspectacular pitchers that have a few good outings against the White Sox build up a reputation that perpetuates failure for the Southsiders. So Bruce Chen, you are Bruce Chen, and nothing more.
Minus: Opportunities were missed, that is the only way that a game lasts 14 innings. But poor baserunning and some lucky breaks on line drives kept the Sox in the running. Throughout the entire game they never gave in which is definitely becoming a theme of the 2012 squad.