Spectators were treated to a good old-fashioned pitcher’s duel Saturday when Felix Hernandez took the mound against Jose Quintana, a 3-2 win by the Mariners in fourteen innings. Hernandez was his usual self, allowing only two runs with eight strikeouts over eight innings of work. However, Quintana was up to the challenge, shutting out Seattle’s lineup for 7 2/3 innings and striking out ten before giving way to Jake Petricka, who finished the eighth inning with the game tied at zero.
Hernandez held the White Sox lineup in check for much of the day, pitching one-hit ball through seven scoreless frames. However, Connor Gillespie led off the eighth inning with a double and suddenly the Sox bats came to life for one half inning. Dayan Viciedo drove Gillespie home with a double of his own the next at bat, breaking the scoreless tie and giving the Sox a 1-0 lead. Tyler Flowers then contributed a crucial RBI, hitting a sacrifice fly to left field that brought home Moises Sierra, who was pinch running for Viciedo. That allowed the Sox to take a two run lead heading into the ninth inning.
Unfortunately, that lead would not hold up, as the Mariners broke through against White Sox relievers in the top of the ninth. A leadoff walk issued by Eric Surkamp and a few hits off of Zach Putnam tied the game up at two. After the Sox were unable to take advantage of an error and wild pitch in the last half of the ninth inning, fans were treated to some free baseball.
My only question at that point was, why did Robin Ventura not send Petricka back out to pitch the ninth inning? Why did he turn to Eric Surkamp? I understand that Cano bats left and Ventura wanted to take advantage of a lefty versus lefty match-up, but where do you draw the line between match-ups and performance? Prior to today’s game, Petricka boasted a 1.94 ERA versus Surkamp’s 3.38 mark. More glaringly, Petricka had 46+ innings of work under his belt compared to Surkamp’s 2 2/3 innings. Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but I think the game would have ended after nine innings if Robin had let Petricka come back out for the ninth.
As it was, Ronald Bellisario shouldered the loss when he gave up two consecutive doubles in the top half of the fourteenth inning, scoring what would be the winning run for Seattle. Those doubles accounted for two out of the three hits he surrendered over three full innings of work. However, the loss cannot be blamed on Bellisario, so much as the inability of the White Sox offense to finish the job against Seattle’s relievers in the last five innings.
The loss was disappointing, especially for Jose Quintana, who showed spectacular poise and ability by besting the Cy Young winner, King Felix. The good news is the Sox still have a chance to take the series tomorrow when they send out Hector Noesi to face off against Seattle’s acclaimed pitching prospect, Taijuan Walker. After a long, and largely fruitless, day at the plate, I expect the good guys to come back to the ball park tomorrow energized and ready to welcome the Mariner’s rookie to The Show before his team heads back to Seattle.