This game was supposed to be about Jake Peavy's unprecedented return from a career-threatening injury.
Now, he's a sidebar to one of the craziest finishes of the year. The comeback against Joakim Soria still registers as "most unlikely," but nobody could have scripted this game's ending. Not without a heavy supply of cough medicine, anyway.
The White Sox trailed 4-2 in the ninth. They had gone hitless in scoring position the entire night. They had seen their eighth-inning rally cut short by batter's interference on Alexei Ramirez, on a two-out double steal of all things. They faced the impressive flame-throwing Los Angeles Angels closer Jordan Walden.
And they were just getting started. Adam Dunn, who had a monster game, started it off with a walk. After Paul Konerko struck out looking, Carlos Quentin smashed a single through the box. He would be replaced by Brent Lillibridge, but Dunn would stay in the game. Good thing he did.
A.J. Pierzynski followed Quentin's lead with another single up the middle (on a 3-2 count; great at-bat), narrowing the Angels' lead to one.
Up came Alex Rios, who usually finds a way to ground into a double play in such scenarios. Walden would remove the opportunity by throwing a wild pitch, and it was only the second friendliest wild pitch of the last two innings. That removed the double play, and Rios walked to bring Omar Vizquel to the plate.
Vizquel replaced Mark Teahen earlier in the game, as Teahen suffered an oblique injury. He had delivered a run-scoring double in the eighth, and he followed with a sac fly to center. His second RBI in two innings tied the game, and a second scoreless inning by Sergio Santos moved the game into extra innings.
Once again, Dunn would loom large. He followed up Ramirez's one-out single with a double down the line and left, which put runners on second and third. Kevin Jepsen then tried to issue an intentional walk to Paul Konerko...
...and his first pitch sailed over Hank Conger's head, and all the way to the backstop. Ramirez came home for the go-ahead gift run, and after Jepsen finally worked through his IBB issues, Lillibridge came through with a sac fly to center for the insurance run.
Matt Thornton, who came on for the save after blowing the first four, would not need it. Konerko seemed hellbent on making up for the all the defensive lapses behind Easy Heat by himself.
Since the rocket didn't work, Torii Hunter tried the soft stuff. He pushed a good bunt up the first-base line, and it had enough air under it to drop between Thornton and Konerko. Konerko took charge while Thornton covered, but with no angle to make a flip, he went behind his back with it. Thornton caught it in stride with his bare hand and tagged first base before Hunter did for the final out.
It's worth noting that Konerko also had an infield single and a stolen base in this game. Somebody should do a DNA check on his legs, because they might not be his.
The last two innings were such a marked departure from the first eight that they shouldn't even be in the same recap. Peavy pitched well in his return, but he was sabotaged by lousy defense and a worse offense.
Peavy should have had a 1-2-3 inning to start his season, but Juan Pierre misread a liner that dropped in front of him, and then dropped a flyball at the warning track to give Hunter an RBI "triple."
Dunn got the run back with a massive solo homer, but Peavy was touched up for two more in the third on rally started by a legit triple by blazing Peter Bourjos. He should have escaped with just three runs allowed, but an erroneous "safe" call on a two-out steal in the sixth led to a fourth run.
So Peavy lasted six innings, and only two of the four runs he allowed were on him. He allowed only seven baserunners (all hits, no walks) and struck out four. I'd take that every time.
Unfortunately, he would have been on the losing end against Tyler Chatwood, had it not been for the Anaheim bullpen. Chatwood had a lot of nothing -- he allowed 10 baserunners over his 6 1/3 innings and couldn't strike out a soul, but the Dunn shot was the only run he allowed. Ramirez grounded into two double plays, and Alex Rios twice popped out with two on.