“Can any of you hit? No? Jeeze, this is gonna be tough.” (Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports)
Almost every game this year the question for the White Sox is whether they’ll be able to score enough (read: any) runs. With their 2nd-best pitcher on the mound in Jose Quintana up against Wade Davis, this should be a match-up that favored Chicago.
The White Sox would draw first blood in the third. Wise singled to left, de Aza walked, and Keppinger squeaked a “single” up the middle with Miguel Tejada and Alcides Escobar bumping into each other. That would load the bases for a severely slumping Alex Rios, who appears to have changed his stance to the point where he is basically standing completely straight up and down. Rios would chop the first pitch to third base, driving in a run on the force out. Adam Dunn, whose bat has to be the slowest in the majors at this point, popped a foul ball behind the plate that Sal Perez never saw, but Mike Moustakas came charging in from 3B to make the catch and end the inning.
Jose Quintana wouldn’t allow a baserunner until a walk to Billy Butler the second time through the lineup, starting the game by retiring 11 Royals in a row. Quintana would strand Butler on first as well, getting through 4 shutout innings on 56 pitches.
The White Sox would threaten in the 5th with a leadoff single from Wise, who would advance to 2B after a throwing error on a pickoff attempt by Davis. de Aza would force Davis to throw 10 pitches, though he would eventually strike out. A chopper to third by Keppinger, a walk to Rios, and a Dunn strikeout would defuse the threat.
Kansas City would get their first hit with 1 out in the bottom of the 5th, as Moustakas would rip a 2-0 pitch into right field for a single. Francoeur would then follow it up with a double to left, bringing up Sal Perez with runners on 2nd and 3rd. Quintana continued to struggle to find the zone, walking Perez on 4 pitches to load the bases. That would bring up the decrepit, ancient Miguel Tejada, who would chop a single through Alexei Ramirez in the hole tying the game at 1. Then Keppinger would kick a double play ball into the air, putting Kansas City ahead 2-1 with the bases loaded and 0 out instead of two more outs. Quintana would induce another grounder, but it would also leak through the right side of the infield to put Kansas City up 3-1. Quintana would manage to retire Butler and Hosmer without any further damage, but a 2-run deficit feels fairly insurmountable for this offense.
Lorenzo Cain would reach on a grounder to Alexei, which he would bobble and then skip late over to first base, making this a candidate for, “Worst Defensive Game I’ve Seen From Alexei.” Another weak grounder would find a hole, and Quintana would be pulled after 5+ innings. This would be the second outing in a row where the White Sox defense failed him after pitching quite well. Nate Jones would come in and shut things down, with a Francoeur liner into a double play and a grounder to get three quick outs.
Gimenez lead off the 7th by reaching on a comical misplay by Tejada at 2nd. DeWayne Wise bafflingly got another single, this time off the lefty Tim Collins who had replaced Wade Davis, to make him 3-3 on the day. de Aza would then loop a double to deep to right field, tying the game 3-3 with none out. Having retired no one and surrendered the lead, Collins would depart.
Aaron Crow would induce a grounder out of Keppinger, which advanced de Aza to third. On the very next pitch, Aaron Crow held onto a slider for too long and de Aza would come home on the wild pitch to put the White Sox ahead 4-3. Rios would follow it up with a solo shot to left, further padding the lead 5-3.
As a sign that all things were suddenly breaking the White Sox’ way, Adam Dunn legged out an infield single into the teeth of the shift. Konerko and Gillaspie would make outs to end the inning, but with a 4-run “explosion” in the 7th, the White Sox were in good shape.
Unfortunately, the White Sox are good at coming up with new ways to humiliate themselves, as Wise didn’t realize a shallow pop-up to center was his ball and it dropped in for a “single.” Ventura decided that with Alex Gordon coming up, this was a job for Matt Thornton. Thornton would oblige by falling behind 3-1, but then coming back to strike Gordon out swinging. Yet another chopped grounder would find its way through the right side of the infield to put Royals on 1st & 2nd with 1 out. Ventura would go to the bullpen again, bringing in Lindstrom. Lindstrom would help the White Sox out of yet another jam, getting a double play grounder (that Keppinger didn’t kick into right field) to end the inning.
Crain would pitch a scoreless 8th. Reed would start the 9th with a 5 pitch walk to Sal Perez, however, and the pinch runner Getz would advance on a pretty awful passed ball by Gimenez. Reed would make the misplay irrelevant, by walking pinch hitter George Kottaras on another 5 pitches, with his release point looking a little late. He would recover to induce weak pop-ups from Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain.
Then Addison Reed would hang a 3-2 slider to Butler who would drive in both walks to right center, meaning Reed’s first blown save of the year and a tie game at 5-5. In fact, de Aza would have to make a diving catch on a Hosmer liner to prevent a walk-off loss.
Ventura brought Brian Omogrosso in for the 10th, because tie-games are mop up situations and he gave up the game-winning run for the Royals. White Sox lose. Oh – also, Ventura called for an intentional walk of Chris Getz in the 10th inning. Chris Getz, as you may know, is an atrocious hitter. This team has a tiny margin for error, and Ventura frequently throws it away on highly dubious decisions like this.
Hector Gimenez would continue to call for a letter-high fastball on every single 0-2 count from Quintana, to the point where Alex Gordon just missed a grand slam on one because it’s that predictable.