Before sending a couple of strong drives to the warning track on Sunday, Dayan Viciedo was closing in on a full month of being completely awful and useless at the plate. Stepping up to the dish with the bases loaded with two outs in the sixth inning, Viciedo had walked four times in his last 101 plate appearances, which equaled the number of times he had doubled and was four more times than he had homered. Perhaps not the most fearsome man for the moment.
And yet, Viciedo reached out and hammered a hanging slider off the outside corner past the diving reach of Astros center fielder Brandon Barnes. As Viciedo’s handiwork slowly rolled up Tal’s Hill in center, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko and Conor Gillaspie all lumbered home to seal the White Sox offense’s biggest inning a week. The four-run sixth and 4-2 victory over the hapless Asstros snapped yet another four-game losing streak for the Sox, who avoided the preposterous shame of a four-game sweep in Houston.
If I were Joe McEwing, I would have tried to break Viciedo’s hand with a high-five too.
The decisive blow from the maligned and tailspinning left fielder was only the climax of a series of improbable events. Earlier in the inning, a 27-bouncer off the bat of Paul Konerko rumbled under the glove of Astros starter Bud Norris, through the grasp of shortstop Ronny Cedeno and dribbled out of the infield for an RBI single. It was the second of what would be four-straight two-out hits to steal a win and quality from Norris, who entered the sixth with only 69 pitches.
His counterpart, Jose Quintana, was far less efficient. He labored through 104 pitches (four of those coming on an intentional walk to Chris Carter for whatever reason) without getting out of the fifth inning. The combination of an out-of-rhythm Quintana and a Carlton Fisk-aping Hector Gimenez behind the plate led to a game that ran over three-and-a-half hours despite only featuring six runs.
Nate Jones stepped in and blew away Chris Carter–who Robin Ventura really didn’t want to face Quintana–to clean up the fifth, but allowed two-straight leadoff singles when he came out for the seventh. A platooned combination of Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain modeled for the train shows, struck out the side and snuffed out the last Astros’ scoring threat.
Thornton striking out Jason Castro might have been the most impressive element, since the Astros catcher continued his four-game rampage with two more booming RBI doubles. Castro went 7-16 in the series with four doubles, two home runs and seven runs batted in. Good God, the humanity.
Team Record: 29-38
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan