Well, the White Sox have really done it. They’ve managed to have a stirring late-inning comeback and extra-inning win on the road against a division rival that none of their fans seemed to enjoy. A 2-1 win over the Royals served not just to ruin a sweep, but also hundred of Twitter jokes about the White Sox offensive futility–which could more or less continues unabated, but the timing just didn’t feel right.
By the time Jordan Danks’ 11th inning tie-breaking/game-deciding blast slammed into the concourse behind the center field wall, Sox fans were already misery-fatigued from Chris Sale’s trying early innings, James Shields taking a no-hitter into the sixth, four outs on the basepaths, including one by Danks himself between third and home to end the Sox’ game-tying rally in the tenth.
It would be impossible to write anything beyond a sardonically amused recap in the immediate wake of Monday afternoon’s voyage through baseball hades. Luckily, through the magic of competing deadlines, class and loved ones needing help moving, I can provide hindsight…or at least be not as furious as I was ten hours ago.
This was, after all, a Chris Sale game, and wound up being a particularly choice Sale game in its own way. After an ugly looking first inning where he threw 36 pitches and generated as many Billy Butler RBI doubles as he did swinging strikes, Sale somehow found his way to gliding through 7.1 one-run innings. The resolve of an ace and all that jazz.
Even more improbably, Sale’s didn’t settle down until halfway through his second trip across the batting order (typically one can only waft their way through the heart of an order once). He racked up 70 pitches through three innings, but finished at only 119 despite never having wipeout stuff. Top velocity covers up a lot of flaws, it seems. I missed top velocity.
Sale’s recovery kept the Sox curiously in a game that they mostly spent getting eviscerated by James Shields, who allowed all of four baserunners over eight innings with nine punchouts. Shields is both familiar with complete games and familiar with complete games against the White Sox, yet had his day end after 102 pitches in favor of closer Greg Holland.
The White Sox immediately rallied on the erratic Holland, but exemplified organizational waste at every turn. They managed to squeeze out three consecutive singles from “Struggling” Jeff Keppinger, slumping Alex Rios, and low-contact Adam Dunn, yet didn’t score, despite having a pinch-runner in front. They had their best hitter of the past decade of the franchise bounce into a 1-3-2 double play to put the game at immediate risk, and even Alexei Ramirez’s heroic game-tying single was immediately interrupted by Jordan Danks getting caught in a rundown to end the fram.
The eleventh inning brought not just redemption for Danks but also for Addison Reed, who got right back upon the horse and nailed the game down after his first blown save of the season on Sunday. The redemptive actions weren’t until after the White Sox had submitted everyone to two hours of misery and inept offense.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan