Wednesday night brought forth salacious rumor from Dan Hayes that Conor Gillaspie possessed a set of actual teeth. Thursday night brought confirmation, as he sank them into the Royals.
Leading off the top of the 12th of a game that the Sox had rallied from three runs behind to push to extras, Gillaspie yanked a hanging curveball from Royals reliever and former first-overall draft pick Luke Hochevar just over the right field wall and the outstretched arm of outfielder Justin Maxwell. The ball kicking off the top of the wall and back into the field of play obscured reality for a bit, and Gillaspie wound up sprinting the last two bases home while Hawk asked for clarification aloud to forces unseen, but it was a game-deciding home run all the same. Conor Gillaspie has more home runs (11) than Paul Konerko (9).
The 4-3 victory gave the White Sox their sixth-straight win, the heavy bullpen usage gave Robin Ventura an excuse to give Addison Reed his sixth-straight save without looking like a total nutter and the Royals’ playoffs hopes took yet another bullet in a painful location.
Also on the list of milestones was an actual appearance in a game for Jake Petricka, who was called up Saturday but has been subjugated to the bench with all this focus on winning baseball games. After Nate Jones, Donnie Veal and Matt Lindstrom had both already appeared for their second-straight nights of work, Petricka was thrust into a situation with two on, one out in the 11th. The youngster stepped in to major league dirt for the firs time, ran some high-90′s heat at Salvador Perez and got an inning-ending double play after five pitches. For his trouble, Gillaspie’s homer in the next inning gave him his first career win.
Starting in the sixth, the White Sox offense crawled back a 3-0 deficit against James Shields, similar to a way they rallied on him in May of 2012. After a leadoff double from Jordan Danks, starting in place of a scratched Paul Konerko, Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez both stayed back on a couple of changeups and lined singles back up the middle. With two outs and a run in, Dayan Viciedo was rewarded for diving out of the strike zone again with a bloop RBI single into short center to bring the Sox within a run.
Josh Phegley was the recipient of some more luck from balls doing things they shouldn’t in the next frame, but could take some pride in that his chaos came from hitting the ball hard. After Gillaspie laced a grounder up the middle to lead off the seventh, Phegley ripped a shot off the first base bag, where it kicked back toward center field and over first basemen Eric Hosmer‘s head for a game-tying double.
The comeback redeemed Jose Quintana, who was blemished with three runs in the fifth when the first four Royals reached base and the next two hit sacrifice flies. Otherwise, the young Colombian was brawny and impressive, blowing his 93 mph fastball by hitters for seven strikeouts and allowing one hit and no runs over his other six innings of work.
Team Record: 52-74