Eventually, over the course of a season, everyone on a 25-man roster winds up contributing something. Even Mark Kotsay won a game singlehandedly in 2010. Honest. It happened.
But while the White Sox have been looking in every corner for help of some kind–they have already won a game by relying on home runs from Tyler Greene, Hector Gimenez and Connor Gillaspie–eeking out a series victory in Texas on the strength of offense from Tyler Flowers and Hector Santiago making an emergency start in place of Jake Peavy is still an awful curious way to get to a 3-1 win against a first place team.
How the hell did we get here?
We got here by Jake Peavy getting scratched in the early afternoon for back spasms, Hector Santiago getting pushed up a day despite having thrown his bullpen session on Tuesday. The circumstances kept Santiago from being a much more than an angry, rosen-bag throwing walk machine by the time he had topped 90 pitches with one out in the sixth, but his presence was a scintillating one while it lingered.
Where Santiago might have thrown half-and-half good and bad screwballs Saturday night, the ratio easily switched to four-to-one Thursday night. Pvt. Santiago struck out six over 5.1 innings with only an Adrian Beltre solo home run on his tab, and he was in line for the win because the singular White Sox offensive burst of the night came in the top of the sixth.
The immediate disappointment of the Sox inability to figure out the curveball of Rangers starter Justin Grimm for most of the night and the longer, deeply marinated disappointment of Tyler Flowers’ offense were simultaneously blasted into the stratosphere as the White Sox backstop punctuated an entirely two-out rally by golfing a hanger just inside the left field foul pole. The dinger supplied the Sox their only runs and achieved the ultimate sabermetric ideal–the three-run homer.
As much as Hector looked to be pitching at a level capable of making such a margin hold up easily, the core of the bullpen–Thornton, Crain and Reed–had all worked the previous night and showed some wear. Matt Lindstrom happened to be fresh, but had also allowed runs in three of his last four appearances. Their entry into affairs suddenly took the game to a pace that reptiles move at in this kind of weather.
- Sixth inning – Lindstrom steps in with runners on first and second, walks the bases loaded before getting Adrian Beltre to ground into a shaky-looking double play combination of Conor Gillaspie and Jeff Keppinger.
- Seventh inning – Lindstrom, still in, walks the leadoff man. Matt Thornton, ever the soothing breeze on a summer day, comes in and records three straight out with well-located fastballs (what else?)
- Eighth inning – Adrian Beltre comes up in another game-deciding situation with two runners on, and whiffs on a huge Crain curve.
- Ninth inning – Addison Reed walks the leadoff guy to give us the drama of A.J. Pierzynski walking up as the tying run, before whiffing him on back-to-back changeups. After another walk, Reed finds another mile on his fastball and whiffs the next two batters as if he were some sort of dominant closer realizing his potential.
The White Sox outhit the Rangers 8-3, blew more than a few scoring opportunities and had to rely on white-knuckle relief just like every other bad offense win they’ve endured. But it’s a series win, after a nearly month without. It’s a legit notch on their belt against a quality opponent, in a season where they’ve struggled with the dregs of the league.
Probably the high-point of the season, endless wave of injuries aside.
Team Record: 12-15
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