Less than an hour into a duel of two of the worst–judging from their strikeout, walk and groundball totals–starters in the major leagues, 11 batters had reached base, seven runs had crossed the plate and two balls had left the field of play (albeit one went on the bounce). The White Sox led the Marlins 4-3, but a long day of scoring loomed ahead.
And then it floated by harmlessly like a compliant storm cloud.
An eighth inning insurance run off the bat of Alex Rios, who hammered a single through a drawn-in infield was the only tally added to a 5-3 White Sox win that spent most of the day watching the Sox fiercely defend a small lead against a poor offense. The few scoring opportunities that emerged in the middle innings were cut down at the plate.
Dayan Viciedo’s second double of the day came with two outs in the third and quickly brought about the sinking realization that Paul Konerko had no chance of scoring from first on it, even though it had been sliced into right field corner. A momentary bobble by Dennis Dietrich effectively served as a brilliant feint, since it convinced Konerko to try to lumber home, where he was out by 10 feet but at least made a show of sliding. Big Hurt wouldn’t have bothered with such a charade at this age.
A more clear-cut opportunity to tie the game opened up for the Marlins at the end of Dylan Axelrod’s start in the sixth inning. Matt Lindstrom was thrown in to extinguish a situation with one out and a runner on second. True to his struggles, Lindstrom immediately allowed a bullet single by Justin Ruggiano to right field. Marcell Ozuna initially held up rounding third, but chanced it for home after Alex Rios bounced and kick-flipped the ball before re-starting the fielding process. Despite a strong throw, Ozuna beat the throw easily and looked appropriately baffled when Hector Giminez tagged him out after his slide and got the call.
Gimenez had camped his foot out on the plate and blocked Ozuna’s inital grasp, even though it looked like he slid his hand down and touched the dish anyway. The questionable call maintained the Sox’ slim advantage until the extra tally came in the eighth, but the back end of the Sox bullpen didn’t even need the help. Thornton, Crain and Reed threw three perfect innings to close out the sweep, striking out five (Three for Crain, two for Reed).
An opposite-field Adam Dunn home run off Marlins starter Alex Sanabia–who once jumped on Dunn’s back during a brawl back when Adam was in Washington–kickstarted the scoring in the first inning. The Sox put up another two-spot in the second inning when Alejandro De Aza refused to let a leadoff double by Viciedo go by the boards, slicing a two-out fliner into the left-center gap that floated far enough away from center fielder Chris Coghlan to score Hector Gimenez from first as well.
Axelrod was touched up for four singles and two runs in the second inning of a start that saw him allow three runs over 5.1 innings, but had his damage minimized by another out at home plate, when Viciedo made up for throwing to the wrong bag and letting Coghlan advance to second earlier in the inning by gunning him down at home.
Yes, with the victory, the White Sox are at .500, but also got their first sweep of the season.
Team Record: 24-24
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