May 22, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli (12) is safe at home because of a wild pitch against Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Nate Jones (65) during the eighth inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Our analysis of game results and performances is constantly being clouded by expectations. It’s only natural and it’s actually a good thing a lot of the time.
But the expectations of what could be considered “a good job by Hector Santiago working on short rest,” and what would be considered a “big game effort by Chris Sale in a duel with Clay Buchholz” are pretty disparate. The White Sox got so very much of the former, but not enough to override the larger mismatch of the game.
In stretching himself out through six innings of two-run ball, eviscerating the bottom of Boston’s order (Hitters No. 6-9 went 0-7 with six strikeouts vs. Santiago) and getting every mile out of his fastball-change combination (nine strikeouts total), Santiago was brilliant. But heroes throw themselves into lost causes all the time, and the White Sox offense against the AL ERA leader is bordering on that. The Sox were never able to make up a first inning two-run single by David Ortiz and fell off the pace with the back of their bullpen in a 6-2 defeat.
Lacking his top velocity and erratic at the start, it was cruel luck that an ugly, reaching swing by David Ortiz that dropped a bloop into short left field cost Santiago two runs in the first inning and any shot at the win. He erased leadoff walks in the third and fifth innings with double play balls, he got through six frames despite a pitch count of 69 after three innings. He struck out 37.5% of the batters he faced. It was beautiful, really.
The White Sox offense made a practice of doing as little as they could with what they were provided by Buccholz. Leadoff runners were put on base in the first, third, fourth, fifth and six innings, with only a third inning Alex Rios RBI groundout to show for it. Four at-bats of Paul Konerko turning and driving pitches to left, punctuated by a garbage-time solo home run was the offensive bright spot of the night.
Having worked his top-line relievers raw the first two games of the series, Robin Ventura turned to the likes of Brian Omogrosso, Donnie Veal and Nate Jones upon entering the seventh inning down a run. Omogrosso pitched around a pair of singles for a scoreless seventh, but left Nate Jones with loaded bases when he departed in the eighth.
At his most precise, Nate is not the best guy to leave with no margin for errors in his control, and he was not at his most precise Wednesday. Two of his inherited runs scored, thanks in no small part to Tyler Flowers failing to block a pitch in the dirt with the bases loaded, but Jones was also charged for two runs of his own since he gave the ball to Donnie Veal with two runners on in the ninth. To say little of Donnie Veal’s night–he was optioned to Charlotte right after the end of the game to make room for John Danks, his control still a work in progress.
Team Record: 21-24