But with a 1-0 count, Viciedo could afford to sit dead-red on the heat. Boy howdy, did he ever.
Viciedo unloaded with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth, turning a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead, and eventually a victory in the opener of a big series in the Bronx.
Perhaps the most delightful aspect of the homer is that he never should have gotten the chance to give the Sox a lead. With a runner on first and nobody out, A.J. Pierzynski hit a tapper right back to left-handed specialist Clay Rapada. Rapada, however, doesn't specialize in throwing to second base. He let go of it early, and it sailed high and wide and into center field, allowing Alex Rios to take third.
With the tying run on first, Robin Ventura pinch-ran Eduardo Escobar for Pierzynski. Viciedo rendered the move unnecessary with his 14th homer of the year.
Addison Reed closed it out, but not without some drama. He gave up a leadoff single to Dewayne Wise, who was almost doubled off by Viciedo when he didn't pick up a flyball to left on a hit-and-run. An accurate throw would have gotten him by 10 feet, but it was about 10 feet toward home plate, and Wise made it back safely.
Reed rallied to strike out Andruw Jones for the second out, but Derek Jeter jumped on a fastball and gave it a ride to right. Alex Rios, simlilar to the penultimate out in The Brent Lillibridge Game, caught the ball at the same time he hit the wall to end the game.
The White Sox are now 2-30 when trailing after eight innings.
The reversal of fortune came as a surprise, because this game had all the makings of a classic White Sox blood-boiler. The Sox had their fair-share of hard-hit balls and a few scoring opportunities as well. Through eight innings, they only had an Alejandro De Aza solo shot to show for it.
Moreover, Dylan Axelrod pitched an outstanding game in his Yankee Stadium debut, giving up just two runs over seven innings -- but those two runs nearly could have been avoided.
With two outs and a runner on first, Alex Rodriguez hit a deep drive to left center. De Aza had to cover a ton of ground just to get there, but he got there. The problem was, he didn't quite know he got there. He jumped, but it hit off the pad of his glove and bounded away for an RBI double, tying the game at 1. Robinson Cano followed with a no-doubt double of his own (when it was OK to walk him, too) to give the Yankees a lead.
Axelrod closed out the inning, and that would have been a relatively successful night for a seventh starter against a talented offense. But Axelrod finished the sixth ... and then he finished the seventh, too. He struck out Curtis Granderson, and A.J. Pierzynski nailed Derek Jeter for the Sox's fifth strike-him-out-throw-him-out of the year.
Still, Axelrod was in line for an unjust loss, because the offense couldn't come through with runners in scoring position.
In the third inning, they had runners on the corners and nobody out. Unfortunately, Paul Konerko was the runner on third. He probably could have scored on Pierzynski's fly to medium center, but Konerko didn't test him. He might have regretted that decision when the next batter, Viciedo, lined into a 4-3 double play. Cano had him shaded up the middle, and Rios didn't seem aware of that, because he stranded too far away from first.
They had a chance to tie it up in the eighth. De Aza led off with a single (his fourth hit of the night), advanced to second when a ball got away from Chris Stewart, and Stewart was more concerned about appealing a check-swing than retrieving the ball. Kevin Youkilis was locked up by an Ivan Nova inside fastball, and Boone Logan retired Adam Dunn on a flyball to medium center. De Aza advanced on the fly, but Paul Konerko stranded him there when Cody Eppley struck him out looking.
Hector Santiago relieved Axelrod in the eighth and seemed to put the game further out of reach when, after striking out the first two batters, he allowed a solo shot to Mark Teixeira. Texeira took him deep on the 14th fastball thrown by Santiago out of 15 pitches.
Thanks to the Viciedo blast, Santiago -- and the Sox -- could rest easy with a win.