Dayan Viciedo walking just isn’t quite the red alert it used to be, but it should be. With the Sox having already rallied and tied the game 4-4 in the eighth inning, Angels reliever Michael Kohn lost all ability to locate his pitches, but to a degree no one could truly understand until he was 2-0 to Jeff Keppinger with the bases loaded and unable to throw fastball below anyone shoulders.
As the ball four buzzed up and in and confirmed Keppinger’s first walk of the season and certainly his most memorable moment in a White Sox uniform, boos rained down on an Angels team that had found an inventive way to blow a two-run lead to the worst offense in the American League, and lose 5-4 to a White Sox team that may just be on a winning streak.
The Angels had done plenty in the eighth inning already to help the Sox to this point. Back-to-back leadoff singles from Alejandro De Aza and Alexei Ramirez turned into runners in scoring position when Mike Trout airmailed a throw allegedly targeted for third. And the pain of a bad Alex Rios strikeout was blunted by the wipeout breaking pitch he failed to check up on skipping 15 feet away and plating De Aza, to bring the Sox within a run, 4-3. With Ramirez at third base, Mike Scioscia drew in the infield against Adam Dunn, only to have him hammer a game-tying single past Howie Kendrick at second base.
The eighth inning rally saved starter Jose Quintana from another ill-deserved loss, after his defense let him down again in a crucial bottom of the sixth inning.
On occasion, Jose Quintana can get into a rut where he sticks to trying to bust right-handers in on their hands. It’s his best skill, but the repercussions to not getting far enough in, especially after multiple trips inside, can be dire. Quintana’s third attempt to bust Howie Kendrick inside in the sixth inning failed as his slider flattened out and was crushed into the left-center field gap. Since it’s Angels stadium, the ball didn’t travel quite as far as the contact sound might have foretold, and was still in reach of a staggering and backpedaling Dayan Viciedo.
Instead, the ball skirted off of Viciedo’s glove, almost as if he had never opened it, rolling off and allowing two runs to score to wreck the back end of Quintana’s night–it was counted as a double–and stake the Angels bullpen to a 4-2 lead.
That was only the second of the three lead changes on the night. An opposite field two-run blast by Albert Pujols in the fourth one-upped the glorious, towering solo shot to left field by Alex Rios in the top half of the inning. But Pujols’ blast only gave the Angels a lead because De Aza was doubled off first on a caught line drive the batter before Rios nailed an inner-half Jerome Williams fastball. It was all an improvement over the first three innings, where Williams had been perfect.
For all the grief the White Sox deservedly get for the defensive execution, Alex Rios has abandoned the two-seamer he used throw out of center field for a more straight-line approach from the corner. In the third inning, he gathered an Erick Aybar single and rifled it home in one motion, and the low bullet skidded barely above the grass and into Flowers glove right as Chris Iannetta’s foot collided with it. Conversely, in the fifth inning, Jeff Keppinger tapped the soft grounder a drawn-in Angels infield was looking for to gun down Conor Gillaspie running home on contact, but Erick Aybar fumbled the transfer to the point where it was floating two feet over his head as the tying run crossed to make it 2-2.
Addison Reed, pitching in front of a multitude of hometown friends and family, worked a perfect ninth for the save.
Team Record: 18-21
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan