White Sox bottom of the order does just enough
By James Fegan
Jun 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers hits a solo home run against the Oakland Athletics during the third inning at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
It’s amazing what the White Sox can do with four runs of support.
For the second-straight day, not only did the Oakland A’s become beatable, but the offense provided enough runs that an elite pitching staff could be reasonably expected to hold it up.
Typically for an offense like the one stashed on the South Side of Chicago, being situated at the bottom of the order is quite the damning statement, but it is still June, and maybe we don’t know anything at all yet. The 7-8-9 group was responsible for half of the scoring, and hey look, Dayan Viciedo walked for the first time since May 20.
Tyler Flowers has hit six home runs this season. Two of which came in back-to-back days at the start of the season, and now two more have come in back-to-back days this weekend. A massive, towering fly ball off his bat to left field tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning.
Gordon Beckham, remarkably only playing his 14th game of the season, capped off a fourth inning rally by lashing a liner into the left field corner. The double brought home Paul Konerko and extended the White Sox lead to 3-1, after a Conor Gillaspie sacrifice fly had broken the tie earlier in the inning.
But there is no talk about the marginal success of the offense ever without another improbably brilliant start pitching performance behind it. Hector Santiago, a non-prospect in a bad farm system, stuck in High-A as a 24 year-old as recently as two years ago, carried the Sox into the seventh inning with only a Coco Crisp solo home run on his tab. Santiago was pulled after walking Josh Reddick with one out in the seventh, and had an unearned run added to his line when Matt Thornton’s pickoff throw to first bounced out of Konerko’s glove.
Santiago’s control remains problematic, he did nothing on Sunday to lower the troublesome 1.11 home runs per nine innings average he’s maintained for his career and he still seems reliant on a fastball-changeup combo above all else, which makes him not nearly as effective against lefties as he should be. But the success–like it has for so many seemingly unworthy contributors under Don Cooper’s tutelage–continues, the strikeouts keep coming and the opportunities keep getting earned.
Despite the relative breakthrough, Oakland starter A.J. Griffin started the eighth inning and didn’t crack the 100-pitch barrier until Alex Rios ripped a low-and-in fastball to the second row of the left-center bleachers for the rare White Sox insurance run.
After Matt Thornton got Crisp to pop-out to end the threat in the seventh, the White Sox got to turn to the infallible part of their bullpen, getting two perfect innings and four strikeouts from Jesse Crain and Addison Reed.
Despite another forgettable day at the plate for Conor Gillaspie–he’s been sub-.600 OPS since May 1–he contributed three diving stops at third base and earned himself a post-game interview for his trouble.
Team Record: 27-34
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