The Oakland A's lead the majors with 13 walk-off victories this season. Tonight, they experienced a game-ending home run from the other side.
And it was Jordan Danks of all people doing the damage, teeing off on a first-pitch Pat Neshek fastball and crushing it well over the Bullpen Sports Bar for his first big-league homer, and a thrilling walk-off victory.
The Sox scored all their runs via the solo homer, but nobody's complaining tonight. Before Danks, A.J. Pierzynski, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo all took Brandon McCarthy deep, erasing a 3-0 hole that Gavin Floyd dug through two innings.
McCarthy, making his first appearance at U.S. Cellular Field since the Sox traded him in December of 2006, showed that the gopher ball problems still haunted him. He entered the game having allowed 14 homers over 69 2/3 innings at The Cell. Now you can make that 17 over 75 2/3 innings. McCarthy was pretty good at keeping the bases clear when he faltered (10 solo homers out of those original 14), and certainly that carried over, too, but the Sox were able to do enough damage to get Floyd off the hook.
Floyd, as is the case in his recent starts, was a mess in the early going. He walked Coco Crisp to start the game, who advanced to second, stole third while Floyd was sleeping, and scored on a groundout for a quick 1-0 lead, without the benefit of a hit.
The second was even uglier, with Chris Carter hitting a ringing double, and Brandon Moss doing him two bases better with a two-run shot. Floyd gave up another double, but he stranded Derek Norris at third. He'd do the same to every other baserunner allowed, as his breaking pitches started to actually do something.
His best sequence of the game was probably against Brandon Inge, whom he finished off with a knee-buckling curve for a strike, then a curve in the dirt for a feeble swinging strike three. He couldn't have timed it better, for Inge whiffed with the bases loaded.
After Floyd settled down, the bullpen didn't let him down. Floyd left after giving up an infield single to start the seventh, but Robin Ventura put the pieces together. He used Leyson Septimo as a LOOGY -- strikeout. Jesse Crain came on to pitch the rest of the seventh -- two strikeouts.
Matt Thornton pitched an easy 1-2-3 eighth, just like old times, and Brett Myers survived a couple of unimpressive breaking balls to get out of the ninth unscored upon, too. He picked up the win to improve to 1-1 with the White Sox.
Both benches were warned after exchanging HBPs. Floyd hit Yoenis Cespedes with a 92 mph fastball around thshoulder in the fifth, and McCarthy retaliated with one on Pierzynski's elbow pad with two outs in the sixth. It was the second consecutive pitch thrown inside, and Pierzynski stared him down on the way to first. The game completed without incident.