The strikeouts didn’t come as easy as he’s used to, but Francisco Liriano managed to work his way into the 6th without getting himself into too much trouble. He did, however, leave a mess when he left, but Jesse Crain would escape it with minimal damage. What seemed to have been a bullet dodged and win secured went astray shortly thereafter.
White Sox (71-56): 3
Orioles (70-57): 4
The 2nd inning was Liriano’s first little hiccup. Lew Ford took him deep to lead the frame off, then a couple of walks and a single would load up the bases. When Nick Markakis swung at a ball and hit it hard, it was the White Sox good fortune that it was lined directly at Alexei Ramirez, who was able to toss over to Gordon Beckham at second to complete the double play.
Wei-Yin Chen, for his part, was even more effective. He pitched through 6 innings and struck out 8 while only allowing 4 hits, but Dewayne Wise was once again a timely hitter. On a sharp hit ball stopped by a diving Mark Reynolds, Chen was unable to hang onto the toss and Wise beat it out. Next up, Kevin Youkilis, who lined a rocket shot homerun over the left field fence to give the Sox a 2-1 lead. Liriano wouldn’t stick around long enough to truly enjoy the lead. A walk and a single to lead off the inning would earn him his exit, and bring Jesse Crain into a tough situation with runners on the corner and no outs. Crain opened with a pair of walks, first loading the bases, then loading them differently and untying the score. He would get out of it from there, but the damage was done, as they say.
In the 8th the Sox again benefited from the Wise/Youkilis connection. That and a little bit of luck. After the men at the top of the order each singled, Adam Dunn grounded to second, but the Orioles found themselves completely disinterested in fulfilling the play, and no outs were recorded as Robert Andino had nobody to throw to. A run would score and the Sox pulled back into the lead for a brief moment. Moving to the bottom half of the inning, Nate McLouth, with a runner on, left little doubt on a Brett Myers pitch that launched the Orioles back into the lead.
Plus: The White Sox probably shouldn’t have won this game anyway. Chen was pitching great, and it was a couple of bad plays defensively for the Orioles that allowed for all 3 White Sox runs to score. The team took advantage of a couple breaks and almost made it break heavy in their favor. That’s a good thing.
Minus: Probably shouldn’t have won, sure, but they could have. Any time you go into the late innings with a lead, you’re expecting to be able to walk out with a W. Nate McLouth and Brett Myers teamed up to keep that from happening, and it’s a tough pill to swallow.
Player of the Game
Kevin Youkilis – .389 WPA