It was really a simple enough game for the most part. Andre Rienzo waltzed through the early portions of the game profiting off balls finding gloves. The White Sox blew an enormity of scoring opportunities, but scratched out a couple tallies regardless. Adam Dunn ran into a ball, and with his bat, to boot.
Yet this many positive occurrences hadn’t worked in unison in nine games, so every minor success in the White Sox streak-snapping 4-2 victory in Baltimore felt as revelatory as Rienzo snapping off 12-6 curveballs to escape the sixth inning. Only when Addison Reed stepped into the ninth looking like a garish shell of himself did everything become as completely impossible as the White Sox and their few remaining viewers become accustomed to.
After blowing the save and game on Saturday, Reed was arguably more shaky Sunday, walking two and sitting at 91 mph most of the inning. But after loading the bases and scaring the bejeesus out of everyone with a 360-foot foul ball to Ryan Flaherty, he got a fielder’s choice, and escaped when pinch-runner Chris Dickerson never picked up an easy pop-out to foul territory, and slid into second base. Dickerson will have some fun thoughts if the Orioles wind up a game out of a playoff spot.
But more about that 25 year-old Brazilian who redeemed himself as much as he did the White Sox road trip, leaving with two outs in the seventh and only an Adam Jones solo shot counting against him. After some hard contract throughout the first five innings, he found some regular success with his curve near the end, striking out consecutive batters with it in the sixth and whiffing four overall. It’s reductive to think one pitch is all his success depends on, but it’s something to watch for.
Rienzo led off the game with two walks in the first inning, so the early search for game heroes led to the offensive side, where traditionally nondescript bottom-of-the-order types went ballistic on Bud Norris, who racked over 100 pitches and left before the end of the fifth inning.
Dayan Viciedo ripped a low-90’s fastball into the left-center gap to drive in Conor Gillaspie and start the scoring in the second. Viciedo had six hits in the series, three of went for extra-bases, and Gillaspie followed up his pinch-hit home run Saturday with two more hits on Sunday. The second of which landed in the middle of the bloated top of the fourth inning.
Jeff Keppinger, your typical middle-of-the-order first basemen, tore a hanging curve into the left field corner for a leadoff double, and was followed by Gillaspie’s infield shot. The bases became loaded when Jordan Danks hit a bullet single too close to Nick Markakis for Keppinger to score, aaaaand that’s where things became tight again.
Dayan Viciedo already had an overeager strikeout in front of Danks, and Bryan Anderson, starting so that the White Sox could stop having their catchers throw balls into center field, stared at three strikes in a row to eliminate one of the biggest advantages of having baserunners: that they can just keep running even if the hits stop coming, provided the ball actually gets put in play. With the full pressure of another blown inning sitting on his shoulders and a 3-2 counts, De Aza hit a hard grounder up the middle that Orioles second basemen Ryan Flaherty couldn’t get a clean handle on for the second time in the inning.
Squeezing just one run out of a four hit inning was too stressful for everyone involved, so Adam Dunn followed it up the next inning by obliterating a nothing changeup onto Eutaw Street for a two-run homer that made Alexei Ramirez‘s 30th stolen base of the season seem like a waste of time.
That wound up being the difference in the game and the end of the streak.
Of course, the Tigers are coming Monday.
Team Record: 57-85
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan