For an inning there, it looked like it might be a remarkable night. With an above-average crowd in place to see the return of A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Rios and Neal Cotts (!!!) to the ballpark and some lovely weather for a Friday evening, Chris Sale looked set to spin one worthy of a clip show, striking out the first two batters in the game in six pitches.
A little over two hours later, he was bludgeoning a gatorade cooler to death in the dugout after matching his-season high in runs allowed (eight) and a career-high in home runs allowed (four) over seven torturous innings in a 11-5 loss. The win streak is dead. It died painfully.
Sale’s apparent vulnerability to light-hitting utility players reared its head in the second inning, as he allowed booming, no doubt home runs to the likes of Jeff Baker and Adam Rosales, both of whom as it turns out, had already taken Sale yard earlier in the season. After Baker murdered a two-run blast to dead center to plate Rios and open the scoring, a pissed Sale revved it up to 96 mph, only to have Rosales turn it out to left to give the Rangers a 4-0 advantage. As if that’s something he does.
That in itself was not an insurmountable lead for the night. Avisail Garcia led off the bottom half of the inning with a solid single up the middle, Jeff Keppinger followed it up by ripping a ground rule double into the corner, and they both scored when Dayan Viciedo inside-outed a ball by Baker at first. The hit parade ended with the Sox on the doorstep of drawing even after Gordon Beckham singled Viciedo home and advanced to second when Rangers starter Martin Perez stood in the path of the throw home and kicked it away accidentally. But Paul Konerko doesn’t cover velocity on the inner half anymore, and was frozen when Perez snuck a two-seamer under his elbows to end the threat.
And that was the last the Sox were heard of.
A little liner off the bat of Ian Kinsler rolled into the left field corner and stuck under the padding. Rather than immediately call for help, Viciedo futzed around like a man searching for a ringing phone in a couch until Kinsler had time to come around to score. The need for the play to be halted for a ground rule double was obvious, but without Viciedo prompting the umpires, the moment never came. And while Robin Ventura came out to discuss just how (his words) “bulls***” the situation was until he was asked to leave, it did little to stem the torrent.
Sale looked like himself enraged to the tenth power for the rest of the night, but the velocity spike wore off. After allowing another tally in the fourth, he grooved Adrian Beltre a 92 mph fastball that was horrifically launched into orbit to extend the Rangers lead to 7-4 through five frames. Despite all the horror and tragedy, Sale was actually efficient enough that his presence in the seventh inning was understandable save for all of the results.
In that seventh, another Kinsler single to center brought in Leonys Martin–who looked particularly hopeless against Sale early on–for the seventh and final tally against the AL All-Star and advanced on Alejandro De Aza’s less than remarkable decision to airmail the throw home. De Aza’s 2-5 with a run scored will look better in the morning than his goofy defense and baserunning unawareness looked Friday night.
Dylan Axelrod came in and allowed his prerequisite home run while getting tuned for three runs in 1.1 innings, and Jordan Danks continued mashing on the low with a ninth-inning RBI double.
-Sale’s ERA is over three (3.08) for the first time in three months
-Viciedo also strangely had a half-decent night at the plate, collecting two hits and two RBI without driving the ball with authority
-Leury Garcia pinch-hit for Avisail and earned himself a broken-bat single
Team Record: 52-75
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