Nate Jones, in his second inning of work (the first was impeccable), after a tough slow-roller that Alexei Ramirez couldn’t barehand put the lead runner on, let the flood gates open for two runs in the 10th inning…after the Sox had rallied back from a five-run deficit to tie it and almost tied it again in the bottom half of the inning. That context, sweet precious context, dulls the pain of a game that will be entered into the loss column free of context.
But this is a recap and a recap should explain why there’s less disappointment in a 8-7 ten-inning loss to the Mariners, a previously impossible occurrence. Even if Adam Dunn missed tying the game in the tenth inning by 10 feet and Tyler Flowers struck out with the bases loaded to end it.
Through three innings, Blake Beaven had a no-hitter going and Jose Quintana had gotten his last two outs with swinging strikeouts. If baseball games were three innings long, there would be a lot of goofy results.
Four innings later, Gordon Beckham was trotting home on an Alex Rios groundout to tie up what had become a 6-6 shootout, after not one but two starting pitching breakdowns would bring the proceedings to that cliff.
Quintana allowed an opposite field home run to Franklin Gutierrez to lead off the game, but things fell apart for his approach–dependent upon trying to locate the hell out of low-90’s heat–in the fifth inning. The trouble of a leadoff double to Jason Bay (which should have been a red flag) was compounded when Quintana tried to barehand–and dropped–Paul Konerko’s flip from a bunt attempt.
Runners at the corners with no outs drew the infield in far enough that Brendan Ryan’s broken bat bloop off a cutter cleared Jeff Keppinger’s head easily to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead, and that was the last weak contact Quintana would induce all night. Four-straight hits–including back-to-back screamers down the line by Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders–chased Quintana before he recorded a single out in the inning, and left the Mariners with a 6-1 advantage.
Most starters can be handed a 6-1 advantage through four frames and had over a lead in good condition to the bullpen. Most starters are better than Blake Beaven. The White Sox apparently indefatigable bottom of the order set the table with one out; Alexei Ramirez outran a slow grounder for an infield single, advanced to third on a double Flowers ripped to the left field corner and scored on a well-struck Gordon Beckham sacrifice fly to center.
It was then, and only then, that Beaven really fouled up.
A 91 mph get-me-over full count fastball woke Alejandro De Aza from his slumber, and the two-run homer he just barely pushed over the right field wall cut the lead to 6-4. That pitch was hittable, but nothing close to as mashable as the hanging curve Alex Rios golfed way out for his first home run of the season, placing the Sox within a run of covering up Quintana’s sins.
Three Tom Wilhelmson walks in the bottom of the 10th made things interesting. After a deep Adam Dunn flyout to right almost tied the game, he allowed an RBI single to Dewayne Wise and had to come up big with 95 mph heat to blow away Flowers with the bases loaded to escape a game-threatening jam
But covering up a six-run, four inning start is too much to ask for even against the dregs of the AL West. Concerns about Quintana’s ability to hold up with a limited arsenal against a league that’s fully familiar with him are allowed to run wild until next week.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan