Tanking in practice, if not in spirit

Divisions don’t just win themselves, #1 draft picks don’t just get handed to anyone. These things take work, and most importantly, attention to the little details.

The moment where the upstart young Brazilian pitcher making his second career start strikes out big, bad Prince Fielder in a crucial sixth-inning situation and pumps his fist in triumph, the old, fading lion slugger tying things up in the ninth inning and forcing extras, all added that vital moment of doubt before the inevitable final scene of triumph for the conquering heroes. With the game tied in the bottom of the 12th, Miguel Cabrera, still recovering from abdominal pain that had kept him out intermittently over the past week, trudged out of the dugout and slapped a single off Dylan Axelrod to trigger a rally that would not be stopped.

After advancing to second base on a hit-and-run, Matt Tuiasosopo raced home for the game-ender on a Torii Hunter single to left that sealed a 3-2 Tigers win, a three-game sweep and 10 losses in a row for a White Sox team that has deserved every one. There was a throw home after him, but it lacked purpose.

Because of the White Sox offense, there’s just no talking about Andre Rienzo going up against two top-5 offenses in his first two career starts in any rational way. Instead, because Rienzo managed to crazily tightrope walk through the Tigers lineup for six innings of shutout ball, clinging to a 1-0 lead, before his first wave of problematic control issues came on blew up the seventh inning on him, he faded down the stretch. An Alex Avila double to the gap and a Ramon Santiago sacrifice fly scored both of Rienzo’s walks and ended his day with him in line for the loss after six-plus frames of work.

What little backing Rienzo did get was authoritative. He was staked to a 1-0 lead after Adam Dunn lifted a Rick Porcello delivery past the ends of human civilization and into the ivy past Comerica Park’s mammoth center field and he was saved from a loss by Paul Konerko hitting his first home run since June 20, a ninth-inning game-tying solo shot off Drew Smyly.

The typical wave of mistakes were present. Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza led off the fifth and eighth innings with ground-rule doubles and were stranded. De Aza also failed to tag up on a one-out lineout to center by Alex Rios, Tyler Flowers got doubled off of second when he gambled on an Alexei Ramirez flare to short left field in the tenth inning.

As much as I like to talk about the offense being prohibitively awful to the point that concerns about “well-played baseball” are a lot of hot air, it’s remarkable how the White Sox manage to position themselves to be within one brain cramp of triumph time and again.

 

Team Record: 40-69

Box Score

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

Topics: Andre Rienzo, Chicago White Sox, Paul Konerko

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