Apr 17, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura comes off the field after a trip to the mound against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Chicago defeated Toronto 7-0. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Knuckleballs are hard; White Sox offense restrained by Dickey in loss

The White Sox offense, nearly to a man, had no earthly concept of how to go about squaring up R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball Thursday night.” Such struggles don’t mesh well with an aggressive approach that trusted Dickey’s control as impeccable–their plate approach could be summed up as “swinging at thing you can’t hit.” The end product was Dickey sailing through the first six innings with only 64 pitches thrown and two hits allowed.

Dewayne Wise–brought in to spell Alejandro De Aza at the top of the order–had the distinct honor of looking more hopeless than any other member of the White Sox lineup on the evening, striking out twice on knucklers. Wise’s last whiff of the night–which saw him check-swing while somehow turning in on himself until he became a highly-compressed human coil, came on a delivery that made R.A. Dickey wince in pain.

After completing the sixth, Dickey left with neck and back soreness, which at least served to restore the game to its previous status as an active competitive entity. With Dickey on the mound, the hopelessness of the White Sox offense made the runs frittered away with Sale on hand irrelevant. But when the tying run came to the plate in the eighth inning in the form of Wise, they all stung anew.

Sale started his night by hanging an 0-2 slider to the routinely mocked Rajai Davis for a leadoff single, then allowed him–with help–to steal second and third base in rapid succession. Even then, back-to-back strikeouts had Sale one out away from sneaking by unscathed, but Edwin Encarnacion turned around 95 mph heat on single to left to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.

In the fifth, the mistakes would get dumber.

Sale plunked leadoff man Emilio Bonifacio with a wayward slider to the start the frame, but made up for it by picking him off of first–theoretically. The throw to first easily beat Bonifacio to the bag,  yet it also got the better of Adam Dunn, who sadly chased it up the right field foul line until Alex Rios removed him of his obligation. By the time that happened, Bonifacio was standing at third without a single out on the scoreboard. Neither Henry Blanco’s lineout to right nor Munenori Kawasaki’s nubber to first were adequate to bring in Bonificao, at least not until Dunn booted the latter and provided the Blue Jays with a 2-0 lead.

To compile the indignities, Rajai Davis hurt Sale once more with a crushed double to center field that scored Kawasaki. Sometimes the mistake-prone reserve outfielder batters your ace, then they remind you how silly that is by forgetting how to slide and getting picked off second.

To really compile the indignities, Dayan Viciedo strained his left oblique in the eighth inning with his typical ‘aim for the high heavens’ swing and left the game mid at-bat in obvious pain. In a telling moment, Jordan Danks came in to replace Viciedo at the plate. In hopefully what was not a telling moment, Danks struck out.

After getting screwed out of a double down the line, Alexei Ramirez singled and scored on a Tyler Flowers double to the wall later in the inning for the White Sox’ only run of the night. With the game in his hands, Dewayne Wise stepped up and hit the ball about 26 inches to end the threat, and any notion of a resurgent White Sox offense were gone by the time Casey Janssen came on to work a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

Team Record: 7-9

Box Score

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

 

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Tags: Chicago White Sox Chris Sale R.a. Dickey

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