With the White Sox down two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Alejandro De Aza sliced a promising flare down the left field line. Robbie Grossman, doubting the leadoff man’s oppo-power, was playing exceptionally shallow and preferring the line over protecting the gap. Once ball left bat, Grossman was sprinting for the foul line, where he laid out and perfectly snagged the first out of the inning while sliding on his stomach. It was then that it hit me: the Astros were showtiming the White Sox.
So the White Sox replied in kind with their own showstopping, otherworldly talent: Jordan Danks. Starting in center to give Robin Ventura a break from outfield madness. Danks collected three hits, doubled twice, but most importantly got enough of a curveball from a flagging Eric Bedard to push it out of an infield loaded with White Sox runners. In plating two decisive runs and pulling ahead to a 4-3 lead that would eventually be the final score, the White Sox finally figured out the recipe for beating the Houston Astros: late-inning comebacks against the bullpen.
Acting in perfect platoon harmony, Jeff Keppinger kickstarted the eighth inning rally by pinch-hitting for Conor Gillaspie against the left-hander Bedard in his second inning of relief. After jumping ahead 1-2, Bedard lost it all at once, walking Keppinger, hanging a curveball for an Alexei Ramirez single and leaving a flat fastball up for Paul Konerko to drill an RBI knock through the middle to bring the game to 3-2, and within an Avisail Garcia squibbed infield single and Danks’ heroics of a Sox victory.
The late-night heroics redeemed a pitiable “That’s So White Sox” effort against first-time starter Paul Clemens, who glided through six innings only allowing a single run. As Clemens set about carving up a stripped-down White Sox lineup (Leury Garcia started in place of Gordon Beckham) that was seemingly composed with the thought of “Who can’t hit Paul Clemens?!” Hawk Harrelson–normally an apologist for struggles against the MLB-worst team–was firm and dedicated in reminding us all that he was thriving while throwing low-90’s fastballs almost exclusively.
Clemens only threw 45 of his 78 pitches for strikes, threw as many walks as strikeouts (two) and threw it over Alexei Ramirez’s head three times in the same at-bat. Unintentionally! And Alexei is fairly tall! And remember, these were overwhelmingly fastballs. Yes, he left after 78 pitches, because Astros manager Bo Porter is not foolish enough to tempt fate for more than two hours at a time.
Also among the redeemed was Jose Quintana, who got one of those happy types of no-decisions after stomping through 7.2 innings of erratic arm-side command. He walked three, used a progressively widening strike zone to mow down eight, but seemed to be one pitch short of escaping jams most of the night. His outing ended with two-straight singles to Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez while he was on the doorstep of eight innings completed, and Castro would come around to score when Jake Petricka inherited him. Dominguez also burned Quintana in the fourth by flipping a looper between the two Garcias to plate another two-out run, and added another two-out RBI single in the sixth.
While his contribution to the eighth inning rally was a comical miniature pop-up that landed between the mound and Jose Altuve at second, Avisail Garcia drove in the other White Sox run of the night with a brisk single to right-center to score Ramirez in the fourth.
–The White Sox have now won 11 of their last 15, which is something we can say again now that their most recent game was not a loss to the damn Astros
–The CSN post-game show gave credit for the hot streak put on by Jordan Danks–a man who did not have a plate appearance Monday night and has started one game in each of the last three series–to him “getting to play everyday.”
Team Record: 55-76
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