The Royals were just eliminated from playoff contention Wednesday night, the White Sox have yet to beat away the specter of a 100-loss season. As a result, their meeting in late September did not make for the most lively atmosphere at U.S. Cellular Field on a Thursday night. Not wanting to belabor the point to a disinterested audience, the White Sox rushed through the three items on their check list, and shuffled away in under three hours.
-Solid pitching (Andre Rienzo – 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 K, BB)
-Backbreaking errors (Bryan Anderson fields a bunt and whips it into right field, allowing the go-ahead run in the seventh)
And voila! It’s a 3-2 loss to the Royals. Taste it. Take a full bite and savor it. This loss tastes just like the other ones. It’s the genuine article.
The curse of Jeremy Guthrie has faded from memory since the Sox shelled him in June, but September 26 could fit along with that set of brutal losses as well. Paul Konerko jumping on a first-pitch fastball from a right-hander for a booming home run has become far from commonplace this season, but through three innings, the solo shot was representing the tight-rope Andre Rienzo had to walk in his first start in nearly two weeks.
Rienzo had a good night for himself, his big overhand curveball snapped deliciously a few times, and his manner of flying open and whipping his fastball didn’t backfire for more than a single walk. But him holding a 1-0 lead is ridiculous. With a runner on in the fourth, Rienzo opened up and flung a 93 mph fastball into the bottom glove-side quadrant of the strike zone to left-hander David Lough; good velocity in a remarkably terrible location, that resulted in a remarkably well-struck fly ball to right field and a not particularly resilient 2-1 Royals lead.
Two innings later, Adam Dunn tied things up by shooting a golf ball out of grenade launcher to right field, or at least that’s what it resembled. Dunn took a Guthrie curve to nearly the concourse behind the seats in right. Rienzo seemed ungrateful about being saved from the loss, because he started the seventh by allowing a leadoff single to Justin Maxwell, then settled in on the bench for a long inning of his teammates bungling routine plays.
Challenged by bunt from Lough, Konerko scooped up the ball and inexplicably wheeled to throw to second, where Maxwell had long since slid in safely. The senior moment was embarrassing, but far prettier than Bryan Anderson scooping up the next bunt from George Kottaras and flinging it over Konerko’s head. The error allowed Maxwell to score and put two runners in scoring position for the Royals.
A combination of Donnie Veal and Daniel Webb closed the door on that threat for the Sox, but the offense reeled off just two singles for the rest of the night. The first was eliminated when Alejandro De Aza was thrown out stealing immediately after reaching in the eighth, and the second just saved Avisail Garcia from a hitless night with two outs in the ninth.
Just three more chances to avoid 100 losses.
Team Record: 62-97
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