Everyone always pines for quick baseball games, yet turn around and scrunch their noses when informed that the best way of ensuring such a product would be to sit a bunch of low-OBP, home run-dependent offenses like the White Sox (.274 OBP coming in) and the Blue Jays (.299 OBP themselves) against one another and let them grapple it out.
After the early innings just flew by as neither outfit found much use for the bases against Dylan Axelrod and Josh Johnson, a pair of matching solo home runs from J.P. Arencibia in the sixth (opposite field to the same spot as Monday night on a fat Axelrod fastball) and Paul Konerko in the seventh (tower fly ball to left in that last inning of Johnson’s night) set things up for an interesting, dragged-out conclusion with the game at 2-2.
It was then that the Sox started to switch up their season-long narrative for a bit. Erratic work from Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar provided leadoff ninth inning walks to Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, the latter of which came on a 3-2 fastball that pretty easily grabbed the bottom of the strike zone. After recently-appointed team MVP Conor Gillaspie hideously whiffed on three pitches, responsibility fell on the hopeless shoulders of Dayan Viciedo, who certainly leant to the drama and put himself in a 1-2 hole by weakly chopping a fastball foul, but recovered to reach and laser-beam a slider over the head of Emilio Bonifacio in center field. The blast scored pinch-runner Dewayne Wise and pushed ‘running-for-himself’ Paul Konerko all the way from first to third on a double.
Apparently Konerko was only getting primed up. He scored on the next play on a very medium-distance sacrifice fly to right, which was enabled by Rajai Davis’ uninspiring throw that dragged Arencibia nearly out of the batter’s circle entirely.
The White Sox immediately filed a claim on that insurance run. White-knuckle closing Addison Reed showed up and allowed leadoff singles to Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind to start the bottom-half. There wasn’t much trace of a knockout slider, but neither Brett Lawrie nor Maicer Itzuris proved to be in the mood for lining up fastballs, nor did Rajai Davis respond well to his decreased difficultly level of “flat slider.” Three-straight fly outs produced a run from a sacrifice fly, but killed any semblance of a Blue Jays rally, allowing for a 4-3 White Sox victory.
Before the final inning–which seemed like it took a third of the playing time–Dylan Axelrod sparkled to his utmost potential. Two solo home runs were the only black marks on six quality innings, and his command was so sharp that he even threw a fastball by Bonifacio for a strikeout in the third inning for some pyrotechnics.
Josh Johnson’s mastery of the White Sox lineup seemed a bit more natural. He struck out eight over seven innings and had only himself to blame for the two tallies against him. A second inning rally could have been escaped–the lead runner was Paul Konerko, who couldn’t score from second on an Alexei Ramirez single–but Johnson threw one past his backstop to give Konerko a second chance at the run. His other mistake was falling behind Konerko 3-0 in the seventh and trying to remedy it with a get-me-over fastball, an idea that’s been explored and dismissed as foolish before.
1.2 perfect innings from Hector Santiago in relief was the secret act of heroics for the night. Konerko scoring three runs was the more blatant act of heroics.
Team Record: 6-8
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