Saturday's game was perfect. Today's game was far from it. The White Sox lost an early lead thanks to poor pitching, poor defense and poor decisions, but all the missteps just happened to set up their first comeback victory of the year.
Maybe the Sox should bottle up some Safeco Field dirt and ship it back home. They're 19-3 against the Mariners since 2010, and winners of eight straight in Seattle.
Alex Rios was the driving force today, going 3-for-4 with three RBI. He delivered two of the game's biggest hits, including the kind of stand-up triple to the right-center gap that you picture when you hear or read the words, "stand-up triple to the right-center gap." That drove in two runs to tie the game at 4, and Kosuke Fukudome's first pitch sac fly to center allowed the Sox to re-take the lead.
Rios then padded it in the eighth with the third straight hit of the inning off reliever Tom Wilhelmsen. Paul Konerko drilled a double to left (and he should've been thrown out by Casper Wells, because Konerko didn't slide and overran the bag by a half-step). A.J. Pierzynski followed with a bloop single to left, and Rios got the hands in and muscled a single the same way to stretch the lead to 6-4. Fukudome followed Rios' lead once again, pulling a single through the right side for one more RBI himself.
That gave the White Sox bullpen a lead it wouldn't let go. That wasn't the case with the first cushion the offense provided the pitching.
The Sox scored the game's first two runs in the third, when Brent Lillibridge scored from first on Alexei Ramirez's double down the line. Dunn drove Ramirez home with a single to right off Kevin Millwood, against whom Dunn has a history of hitting well.
Seattle answered right back with two in the bottom half, tagging Danks for three straight two-out hits to tie the game at 3. After Fukudome was thrown out at home by Ichiro Suzuki to keep the Sox from scoring in the fourth (Joe McEwing's first unsuccessful aggressive call), the Mariners added two more thanks to some poor execution all around.
Miguel Olivo (batting .125) and Casper Wells led off with singles. Ninth-hitting Brendan Ryan showed bunt, but Danks and the Sox didn't want to take the out. Instead, Danks got cute and tried to pick off the trailing runner at first. Adam Dunn was completely unaware of the plan, and Danks' throw sailed over Dunn's head as Dunn anticipated a pitch heading home. Olivo scored, Wells made it to third, and Danks compounded the problem by walking Ryan.
Danks struck out Chone Figgins to get a foothold, and Dustin Ackley followed with a soft grounder to the right side. Once again, the Sox did not take the sure out. Instead, Gordon Beckham wheeled around and tried to get the runner at second for reasons undetermined. The Sox had no shot at a double play, and because Beckham's throw pulled Ramirez well off the bag, Danks still found himself in a jam as another run crossed the plate to give the Mariners a 4-2 lead. Danks was able to stop the damage there, getting a groundout and a strikeout to end the inning.
The Sox were equally shaky on the basepaths. Besides the aforementioned ugly Konerko double and Fukudome out at home, Dunn was cut down at the plate on a chopper to short. He ran on contact, and didn't appear to see the throw coming home until it was too late to try knocking the ball out of Jesus Monero's mitt. Instead, he had to settle for a leap and half-kick, which didn't dislodge the ball. That was the third and final of the Sox's unsuccessful/questionable baserunning decisions.
Much like the way Dunn picked up Brent Morel against Baltimore, Rios came through to pick up Dunn. He split the gap with his picturesque line drive to drive in two runs, and the Sox regained control of the game. Danks pitched around a leadoff walk in the sixth, and he, Addison Reed, Matt Thornton and Hector Santiago retired 12 of the last 13 Mariners to end the game.
- Brent Lillibridge stole two bases on Olivo. He's 5-for-5 on the season.
- The Sox are 6-for-8 in throwing out basestealers, as A.J. Pierzynski bobbled the ball on an exchange from mitt to hand. He also allowed a passed ball on strike three to allow a runner to reach.