With ten games remaining in the season, we enter a period of time where every single game played is “the most important game of the year” until it’s not. It’s not once somebody finally clinches a division that may or may not even want to be clinched. In this edition of the most important game of the year the White Sox came up big. The offense had its struggles, but behind big power from the Big Donkey, runs were put on the board and for another day sole possession of first place remains on the Southside, and the magic number is an ode to Minnie Minoso: 9.
Indians (63-91): 4
White Sox (82-71): 5
The first moderate scoring threat the Sox achieved didn’t occur until the 3rd inning when the first baserunner came aboard in the form of a Dayan Viciedo single. After Alexei Ramirez K’d, Robin Ventura’s fear of the double play once again reared its head and caused the skipper to call for the hit and run on a 3-2 count to Gordon Beckham. Predictably, Gordo struck out and Viciedo was gunned down by a mile at second base. An inning later they got closer, where a combination of poor umpiring and a quick trigger, even for Joe McEwing, cost them.
Alejandro De Aza walked to lead off the 4th, and if I might point it out, that would have put two runners on if not for the botched hit and run to end the previous inning (butterfly effect notwithstanding). Kevin Youkilis was next, and looked to break out of his slump by pulling a double down the left field line. De Aza came around second and picked up third base coach Joe McEwing waving him home. Here, immediately we have questions. My initial reaction was “no,” do not send him. The left fielder Vinny Rottino had gotten to the ball, and a decent throw and relay was going to get him. In the second it took for De Aza to commit himself to going home, I had convinced myself, “yes, you have to send.” It’s not logical. With 0 outs in the inning runners on second and third should be fine. McEwing took a couple less seconds than it took me to get to a place of emotion. A week of offensive impotence will do that to a viewer. Yes, he must be sent because we will not score that man from third since we have been unable in the past week. It probably shouldn’t do that to McEwing, a man paid to make such decisions. I’ve liked his aggressiveness all year, so the anger at sending the runner is short lived. It also should have been moot. De Aza slid for the plate, his foot rose over the plate, his foot fell on the plate, a tag was applied, in that order. The umpire got the order mixed up and De Aza was called out. From there the Sox went ahead and went down quietly in the inning.
The 5th inning continued the White Sox stairway to a run culminating in an actual score! Alex Rios lead off with a single, A.J. walked, and Dayan hit into a fielder’s choice putting runners at first and third. Off the bat of Alexei, it appeared to be more of the same as he hit a grounder to Asdrubal Cabrera to start the double play but he just beat it out at first. With the safe call there, Alex Rios scored and the game was tied for a minute or two.
Having given up a run on an Asdrubal Cabrera double that Alex Rios probably should have caught in the 3rd, Sale got touched for his second and third runs of the evening in the 6th as Russ Canzler hit the second homerun of the year, his career. An inning later Adam Dunn blasted one to straightaway center to cut the lead to 1.
It sat at 1 until the 8th. Alexei Ramirez popped out to lead off the inning, Dan Johnson worked a 9 pitch walk. After a De Aza groundout Kevin Youkilis hit a single to short. In stepped big Adam Dunn. As he fell quickly to 0-2 more of the same looked imminent. Then the third pitch came. Then the third pitch left the yard. 5-3 White Sox on the second HR of the night for the man that wears 32.
Plus: The plus is Adam Dunn hitting his first HR in 30 at-bats, and then hitting another one. If the White Sox are going to keep ahead of Detroit, players that did the things to get them in front in the first place need to get back to doing those things again. Adam Dunn hitting homeruns is one of those things.
Minus: It happened again, the strikeouts. Zach McAllister went 6 innings and struck out 7 batters. Bat on ball has to happen and the fact that it hasn’t been too common for the White Sox is the real culprit in all the stranding of runners. Yes, even more so than the infield pop-ups. I can slowly smile and say that it did not bite the team tonight though.
Player of the Game:
Adam Dunn – .713 WPA