White Sox defensive breakdowns always go down sweeter when they win the game immediately afterward. Alex Rios’ errant throw to cap off a six-run Mariners ninth inning last August isn’t as well remembered as Michael Saunders and Eric Thames colliding in the bottom of the inning to give the Sox a victory. Yet as much as Gordon Beckham was lucky to have been redeemed by Alexei Ramirez in the bottom of the ninth, he’s probably going to remain the prevailing memory of Tuesday night.
Alexei Ramirez ripped a walk-off single down the line with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give the Sox a 5-4 win over the Mets, covering up Alejandro De Aza’s ability to execute right before him, and more importantly covering up the egregious error that tied the game at 4 in the top half of the inning.
With two outs and a runner on second, Addison Reed induced a seemingly game-ending pop-up on the first pitch to pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy. Tyler Flowers came out, Reed kind of drifted around, but the cooly ambling Conor Gillaspie seemed like the favorite to haul it–and at that moment a sprinting Gordon Beckham stumbled over the mound and crashed into Gillaspie’s legs as the ball squirted around behind him. David Wright, had been running the whole time.
All this way in and we haven’t discussed Chris Sale yet, and it was a vengeful Chris Sale night of all things.
Is there any version of Chris Sale more electrifying and thrilling than a vengeful Chris Sale, angered by runs he feels should never have scored and revving himself up for unhittable velocity?
Unfortunately, to get such a version of Sale, a fair amount of indignities have to take place. Two first-inning stolen bases leading to two runs, including a runner on a weak sacrifice fly to short right field kept Sale furious until the fifth, when a solo home run off the bat of Andrew Brown promptly sent him into a 98-mph ball of fury once more.
Fortunately, Sale at full boil, working with a upper-90’s heat, a magical changeup and his loopy slurve, is capable of things like striking out 13 batters in eight innings. He’s one step closer to an improbably winless June, but he got the satisfaction of delivering the game to the ninth with the lead.
After a month of abandonment, the White Sox offense was surprisingly willing to rally back on Zack Wheeler in response to every setback. After Sale started out down 2-0 from the events of the first inning, De Aza started chipping away by reaching on a squib infield single, stealing second and scampering home around on back-to-back groundouts. Tyler Flowers finished undoing the setback by cranking a hanging slider just over the left-center field wall to start the bottom of the third.
In immediate response to the Brown home run in the fifth, Gordon Beckham laced a rope to the left-center gap that might have gone for extra bases if not for speedy Eric Young Jr. cutting the ball off. It was no matter, since Beckham stole second, which was no matter, because Tyler Flowers was grazed with a pitch as the next man up. After wild pitch offense took away the double play, the Sox again manufactured a lead with two-straight outs to the right side–a grounder from De Aza and a sacrifice fly from Alexei Ramirez.
It was a shaky second time out for Mets youngster Zack Wheeler, who struck out only a single batter and walked three over 5.1 innings. Bizarrely, he had the only strikeout the White Sox fell victim to all night. The Mets, on the other hand, struck out 15 times.
“I’m an idiot,” Beckham was quoted as saying after the game. Initial quotes from Alexei have not been offered yet, but there isn’t the call for his explanation that there was Sunday.
Team Record: 32-42
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan