Who needs Jake Peavy?
Well, the White Sox do. But for at least one afternoon, Phil Humber made him an afterthought.
Humber pitched six strong innings as the Sox shook off their disastrous ninth inning the night before, beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-2.
Riding the strength of his curveball, Humber allowed just six baserunners (four hits, two walks) over six innings. He allowed just one run - a Ben Zobrist RBI double that scored Dan Johnson from first. The Rays were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, and Humber kept them off-balance with his best pitch.
As is often the case, hitting with runners in scoring position made the difference. The Sox went 2-for-9, including one of the more unlikely sequences you'll see.
With the score tied at 1, the bases loaded and two outs, Wade Davis sawed off Brent Morel. The ball couldn't have been placed any better, as it dropped in between Wade Davis, Eliot Johnson and Ben Zobrist behind the mound, allowing the Sox to take the lead.
Sure enough, Juan Pierre followed by jumping on top of a high fastball and roping it into the right field corner. But Sam Fuld got on his horse and made an incredible diving catch on the warning track to save at least three runs, and maybe four if he couldn't recover quickly. The lesson: Good contact is for chumps.
Fortunately for the Sox, Fuld couldn't come up with the other big drive in his direction. With the bases loaded in the seventh and two outs, A.J. Pierzynski seemed to be at a disadvantage, facing hard-throwing lefty Jake McGee. But McGee was rattled by losing the strike zone, and lost a few ticks off his fastball as a result. Therefore, Pierzynski was able to get around on a high fastball, and this time, it got over Fuld's head for two runs.
Those insurance runs came in handy when Felipe Lopez greeted Chris Sale with a solo homer to start the ninth. Lopez capped off the solo shot by flinging his bat towards the mound, perhaps in retaliation for the first pitch, which moved Lopez off the plate. Pierzynski certainly took umbrage. Sale bounced back, pitching around a Kelly Shoppach single for his first save of the season.