In our look back at the 2012 season, I had intended to round up the best and worst games of the year. Fortunately for you, Rob took the latter list off my hands with his alternate-history post. He reviewed where five regrettable losses went wrong, and while I might choose a few others to fill in some gaps, why would any Sox fan want to relive them for a third time? (At least before a certain book comes out?)
So instead, let's take a good hard look at some of the season's signature victories, starting with eight worth remembering from the first half. Click the date for the recap, and all the other links for the corresponding video.
A pair of late-game heroics gives Robin Ventura his first victory as a manager. First, Alex Rios takes a 1-2 fastball by Joe Nathan over the center field fence for a go-ahead solo shot. In the bottom of the ninth, Alexei Ramirez helps preserve the lead with a sliding over-the-shoulder catch.
A kid from Nacogdoches, Texas, throws an incredibly sneaky perfect game at Safeco Field. In fact, Humber retires the Mariners in such a matter-of-fact fashion that the game lacks any kind of signature moment until the last pitch of the game, when Brian Runge decided that Brendan Ryan did not hold up on his borderline checked swing. A.J. Pierzynski threw to first as Ryan was caught between arguing and running, and Humber made history.
Trailing 2-1 in the ninth inning, Alejandro De Aza singles off Jose Valverde, steals second, then moves to third on a bunt. Adam Dunn comes up with a fly ball -- a really, really, really long one -- that nearly reaches Comerica Park's second deck for a go-ahead homer. Robin Ventura then abides by matchups in the ninth, resulting in Addison Reed's first career save. That this one follows a Detroit walk-off on Hector Santiago the day before makes it even sweeter. (Suggested by MelidoPerez)
Jeff Samardzija inserts himself in crosstown lore when he drills Paul Konerko in the face with a splitter that "got away." Konerko had homered off Samardzija in his first at-bat, but he wouldn't be around after the second. His teammates have his back. Humber throws behind Bryan LaHair to trigger the warnings, and then Gordon Beckham defends his Baseball Dad by taking Samardzija deep for the winning run. (Beckham also spears David DeJesus on a play at second, knocking him off the bag while tagging him to give Dayan Viciedo an outfield assist.)
Jose Quintana would have better start than this one. In fact, he made history by throwing three outings of eight innings and zero runs without winning any of them. This game is just an ordinary quality start, but it packs plenty of significance. Quintana picks up his first win, and he does it the first time John Danks' spot in the rotation turns up without Danks in it.
By fanning 15 Rays, Chris Sale comes within one strikeout of the White Sox single-game record held by Jack Harshman. More importantly, Sale picks up the victory over another highly lauded, hard-throwing young lefty, Matt Moore. It's one of the best pitching duels of the season, and the Sox end up on the right side of it thanks to Adam Dunn's ungodly two-run homer. Hawk Harrelson's call is tremendous:
With the White Sox trailing 3-1 in the ninth, Dayan Viciedo hits a three-run homer off David Robertson to give the Sox the lead. But the home run was made possible because Yankee LOOGY Clay Rapada tossed a potential double-play ball into center field.
The White Sox offense puts together its most productive day since 2006 against Roy Oswalt and the Texas Rangers. Also, the 17-run margin gives the Sox their most lopsided victory in 56 years. Among the offensive heroes, A.J. Pierzynski offers a rebuttal to Ron Washington's argument for leaving him off the All-Star team with a three-run homer. Chris Sale has a nice, easy night amid the carnage.
Alejandro De Aza and Kevin Youkilis team up to win this one in the 10th inning with two of the toughest at-bats of the season. De Aza nearly kills himself with a foul ball off his knee on an 0-1 pitch by Mike Adams, but gets back in the box and draws an eight-pitch walk. Up comes Youkilis, who begins his at-bat with five straight foul balls. When Adams throws one that Youkilis doesn't have to swing at, De Aza swipes second. That turns out to be huge, because on the ninth pitch of the battle, Youkilis lines a single to left to end it.