The most painful White Sox loss imaginable can’t occur in April, but slap together a frozen, hopeless night in Cleveland, combine it with a wasted pitching gem, sprinkle in a pair of ninth inning hits barely within the foul line and add Nick Swisher, and you’re 90% of the way there.
Swisher tormented his old team with a walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Indians a 1-0 win Friday. His shot off Jesse Crain down the right field line scored Michael Bourn, who had flipped a ball down the left field line with one out for a double three batters earlier.
Once Bourn’s duck snort found a home in the field and scooted him into scoring position, an ominous feeling enveloped the game completely, but that feeling had been building since the Sox blundered away their best scoring opportunity in the top of the eighth.
Conor Gillaspie, a much-needed left-handed force who actually seemed to have a trace on Justin Masterson (who threw a shutout), led off the inning with a double over Michael Brantley’s head on the warning track. This breakthrough was responded to by Robin Ventura calling for Alexei Ramirez–who once bunted into a triple play in this very same stadium–to put down a sacrifice. After Ramirez swiftly popped up a useless bloop to the catcher, Hector Gimenez accomplished the same goal of moving Gillaspie to third by swinging away and grounding the ball to second. Unfortunately, Alejandro De Aza was too in line with the rest of the team, and struck out swinging to end the threat.
Justin Masterson at his best, is a sidearm slinging, sinker-balling terror on right-handers. If Friday wasn’t Masterson at his best, then this could wind up being a very long summer. Sox right-handers went 3-17 against Masterson on the night, who mixed 95 heat with late-snapping sliders to equally splendid effect. That might have still been fine–given the 0-0 score–if Adam Dunn and De Aza had not gone 0-7. Don’t look now but Dunn has one walk and a .184 OBP in 38 plate appearances.
On that narrow, thin scrap of a positive side, Jose Quintana rebounded brilliantly from his season-opening campaign with seven, one-hit, shutout innings. As with all the great Quintana outings, his success seem predicated on opposing batter having never encountered a fastball before. He painted the corners to the tune of seven strikeouts over seven frames, but at 98 pitches, was pulled for relief help since the game was knotted in a scoreless tie thanks to Masterson, that scoundrel.
Matt Thornton pitched a scoreless eighth inning in relief, which is notable since everyone was super positive he was going to blow it. He even jammed a right-hander with a fastball to break their bat and got a good result from it.
Team Record: 4-6