Jun 22, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie (12) is congratulated by catcher Tyler Flowers (21) after scoring in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

In spite of themselves, the White Sox win series over Royals

Robin Ventura had his pinch-hitter lay down bunt with no one out and runners on first and second.

Alejandro De Aza waived at a 3-1 pitch way high-and-outside the zone.

Alex Rios and Alejandro De Aza dropped a ball between them for a triple.

And yet the White Sox still broke a 2-2 tie in the ninth to eek out a 3-2 victory and a series win in Kansas City. After Dayan Viciedo bounced a single to leadoff the inning, Jeff Keppinger drew his fifth walk of the season, which appropriately set off alarm bells and prompted Aaron Crow to be pulled for Greg Holland.

Holland might have deserved a better fate for inducing two fly balls to Jeff Francoeur‘s arm in right field, but pinch-runner Jordan Danks scooted forward a base on each, sliding home below Frenchy’s high throw and giving the White Sox the insurmountable one-run advantage. Addison Reed nailed down his 50th career save to seal another tremendous day of pitching.

The White Sox defense nearly conspired to end the game and Jesse Crain‘s scoreless streak in the eighth inning. Eric Hosmer lifted a fly ball to right-center with one out that really looked like Rios’ ball the whole way, or really just 91% of the way before both he and Alejandro De Aza–streaking to the scene from center–bailed out and let it drop between them for what was legitimately credited as a triple. Jesse Crain, responded gamely by inducing a quick pop-up from Salvador Perez, and striking out Lorenzo Cain after a careful battle with Billy Butler ended in an–eventually–harmless walk.

Jose Quintana looked up to the task of shouldering another measly White Sox offensive offering until the sixth. He allowed only three baserunners and a run through the first five innings while dotting the outside corner for four strikeouts, but a drawn-in infield in the sixth betrayed him. Alcides Escobar shot a double down the line past Conor Gillaspie–who was standing on the grass–and came home on a Salvador Perez single up the middle. With the game tied 2-2, Robin Ventura had no interest in seeing if Quintana could pitch over his struggles, and pulled him after he missed wide on a 3-2 fastball to Billy Butler.

The move cost Quintana a shot at a quality start, but immediately paid off when Lorenzo Cain turned Matt Lindstrom‘s first pitch into an inning-ending double play.

The White Sox, of course, have their offense to blame for not being able to walk away from this one easily. The first knock of Jeff Keppinger’s three-single day led off the third inning, and was followed by Tyler Flowers grinding out a walk like the days of old (which mostly took place in Charlotte). With no outs and the top of the order coming up, Robin Ventura called for Alejandro De Aza to lay down a bunt.

De Aza ducked out on keeping his bat head down and fouled it off, so we’ll never know the results of the out-sacrificing strategy, except that De Aza–behind in the count–fouled off two more pitches before taking a cutter that caught the outside corner for strike three. Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios followed it up by spoiling 2-0 counts for a weak groundout and a strikeout looking respectively. Rios did a lot of staring at strikes, striking out three times on the day.

Even the breakthrough fourth inning, where Gillaspie inherited the same situation and responded by poking an RBI single through the middle and came around to score on a two-out Jeff Keppinger looper to right, an ugly-looking Dayan Viciedo double play stuffed in the middle prevented a bigger inning.

Runners were placed in scoring position with two out in the fifth and sixth with similarly lacking results. But let’s save the regret for later.

 

Team Record: 31-41

Box Score

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

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