Sep 4, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Erik Johnson (45) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
This season has truly amped the collective tolerance and expectation for White Sox inadequacy, to the point where there’s excitement just to see it comes from a new source. Erik Johnson, Marcus Semien and Daniel Webb didn’t promise to do much better than their predecessors in their first major league appearances Wednesday night–and since the Sox a 6-5 loss to complete a three-game sweep in New York, they didn’t flip reality on its head–but they were new, dammit. Maybe things would be different.
Johnson did plenty wrong after toeing the rubber in Yankee Stadium for the first time in his life. He hung his big, looping curveball–as he did multiple times on the night–to Robinson Cano and had it obliterated for a first inning solo shot that injected dread into his night early. He lost command of his fastball frequently, pulling it across the plate, getting under it and elevating it and walking three over six innings.
Yet there was a glowing stretch at the end of the first as he struck out Ichiro Suzuki to escape a bases loaded jam that extended through the third, where Johnson starting spinning some tight 88-89 mph sliders in good places and worked his fastball alongside it, and he seemed genuinely comfortable and earned some grounders for his hard work.
Then he fielded a comebacker from Suzuki with a runner on and no outs in the first, hilariously short-armed it to Jeff Keppinger at first, and a four-run inning broke out. Two more clean, but contact-heavy frames followed to give Johnson a sort of odd quality start (6 IP, 5 R, 3 ER, K, 3 BB) but the success cam in fits and spurts, as could be expected.
There was less of that from Daniel Webb’s first major league inning, as he came on in the seventh, walked the leadoff man, allowed a bullet single to right and after throwing a really good curveball to put Alfonso Soriano down 0-2, allowed a sacrifice fly to put the Yankees up 6-1.
That wound up looming large, since Avisail Garcia–basically old news at this point–set off a furious comeback that fell just a run short almost by his lonesome. After pushing an RBI double down the right field line off CC Sabathia in the first, Garcia got a four-run White Sox eighth inning off David Robertson with a bounced RBI single through the shortstop-third base hole. A Dayan Viciedo walk (!!!!) loaded the bases, leading to three more runs off back-to-back singles up the middle by Josh Phegley and first-timer Marcus Semien (who had already collected his first hit of the night in his first career at-bat).
But all that noise was enough to stir Joe Girardi to bring in Mariano Rivera, which is a very good panic move. Rivera received a prestige-extended strike zone to finish Alejandro De Aza and the threat in the eighth, and massacred the heart of the order to complete the sweep.
Team Record: 56-82
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