The White Sox came home on Friday night to face off against another legitimate playoff team in the Angels. With Phillip Humber on the mound for the Sox and Zack Greinke trying to make a good impression on his new team, it would prove to be a wild one on the South Side.
The dramatics started right away in the first inning, after the Angels posted a run in the top half, the stage was set for the Pale Hose to try to answer back. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Paul Konerko would hit into a 5-2 fielders choice (ground ball to third, force out was taken at home). As the Angels catcher, Chris Iannetta, attempted to throw Paulie out at first, completing a double play, he threw the ball wide to Pujols at first, pulling him off the base and allowing Konerko to reach safely. Well, Angels manager Mike Scioscia felt that Konerko had been illegally running inside the baseline, forcing Iannetta to make an wild throw to first. The umpires didn’t agree and allowed the play to stand (as it is a judgement call at that point), which didn’t sit well with Scioscia, who followed the proper protocol and requested the game be played under protest. Basically, the league will look at the play and evaluate whether or not the umpires got the call right and (more importantly) whether or not that play directly changed the overall outcome of the game. Well it just so happened that the White Sox posted a run on an Alex Rios single, resulting in an Adam Dunn train wreck at home plate, trucking Iannetta who made a fantastic play and held onto the ball retiring Bigun at the plate (but not before Youk came around to score). Well, in true AJ fashion, Pierzynski followed that collision with a three run home run, shoving the Paul Konerko play down the throats of Angel fans everywhere (2005 game 2 of the ALCS anyone?) and giving the Sox the 4-1 advantage.
Phillip Humber did not have his good stuff tonight, allowing the Angels to get right back into the ball game, tying it at 4 by the 3rd inning. Humber went 5.2 innings allowing 6 earned runs on 10 hits and 4 walks. He left the game with a pretty bleak 2 run deficit. But, the Sox would strike back.
In the 6th, Alex Rios homered to bring the Sox within 1 run (6-5 Angels). Not to be outdone, Alejandro De Aza would lace a ground rule double to left, driving in Alexei Ramirez to tie the ball game in the 8th. That RBI double set up by some classic small ball, with Beckham bunting Ramirez to second, setting up the RBI opportunity for Alejandro. The score would remain tied until the 10th inning, with the bullpen really stepping up tonight. Between Jones, Myers, Crain and Thornton (in that order) the bullpen went 4.1 innings allowing no runs and pitching out of some tight jams. Seeing the bullpen shut down one of the best offenses in baseball is a very encouraging sign.
So cue the tenth inning. Adam Dunn leads the inning off with a check swing single (oops! thank you shift) and is taken down for pinch runner Jordan Danks. After a rough at bat for Paulie (capping off a bad night for el capitan) Danks steals second with Rios at the dish. The 32,060 fans at the cell tonight were just hoping for a little base hit from the red hot Alex Rios….. well they got a little more than that as Rios would turn around a 1-2 fastball from David Carpenter, parking it in the left center field seats sending US Cellular field into a frenzy. A huge win for the White Sox, pushing them to a season high 11 games over the .500 mark.
A quick tip of the cap to the offensive heros of this game and of this season so far:
Paul Konerko, bad night tonight, great year this year.
Adam Dunn, big power year, nice walk total
Alejandro De Aza, a guy who is not getting enough credit. Going 3 for 5 and driving in a big run in the 8th. Alejandro has really been an unsung hero this season. When this guy gets on base, we score runs, its that simple. Not to mention the guy has 42 RBI’s hitting leadoff couple that with a very telling 67 runs scored and its easy to see that he might be the biggest key to our offensive success.
AJ Pierzynski, setting a new career season high home run total tonight, belting his 19th homer on the year while going 1 for 3 with a run score, a walk and 3 RBI’s, this guy is having the best offensive year of any catcher in the league.
And of course, Alex Rios. Going 3 for 5 tonight with 4 RBI’s, 3 runs scored (2 HRs), this man is having himself a season. Finally showing Chicago what he’s capable of, hes been a huge piece for this offense and continues to put the Sox on his back and help them win big games.
Hopefully the Sox can come out and get the win tomorrow. More importantly, hopefully Gavin Floyd doesn’t drive us up the wall tomorrow night, who knows, maybe someone introduced him to the concept of getting ahead of hitters since his last start. Thats going to be a 6:05 start over on WGN tomorrow night, lets win this huge series.