Tyler Flowers puts the Sox ahead for good.
Today, they had a few things in their favor. They scored first. Gavin Floyd left after two innings with a sore elbow. They regained the lead as the rain started to intensify.
In fact, it rained hard enough for Jim Joyce to call out the grounds crew three batters into the bottom of the seventh -- but only to apply drying compound to the infield dirt. It interrupted a decent rhythm -- Kevin Millwood started by getting Alex Rios to pop out to catcher John Jaso, who had to shield his face with his catcher's mitt to track the ball in the rain. But then Millwood walked Jordan Danks, setting the table for Tyler Flowers.
After a six-minute delay, with the rain still coming down, Millwood retook the mound. On his second pitch, the backup catcher who hit the game-tying homer on Saturday put the Sox ahead with a no-doubt, two-run blast over the first wall of shrubbery in center field.
After a Rey Olmedo single, Eric Wedge made a pitching change. After a Dewayne Wise single, Wedge made another pitching change. And after Stephen Pryor took all his warmup pitches, Joyce finally called for the tarp. That decision angered Wedge -- if Pryor wasn't going to pitch, why was he allowed to take warmup tosses? -- but it didn't have any implications. After two rain delays of one hour and 51 minutes apiece, the game was called.
Nate Jones picked up his seventh victory of the season, and his second in as many days. On Saturday, he had to throw a single pitch. Today, he had to work a little harder.
He inherited runners on the corners from Hector Santiago (attempting a fifth inning of relief) and nobody out, and his fastball overpowered the bottom of the Seattle order. He jammed Casper Wells into a shallow pop-out to right for the first out. Brendan Ryan tried a push bunt safety squeeze that rolled foul (good decision by Paul Konerko), before he broke his bat and popped out to second.
He mostly stayed away from Dustin Ackley, loading the bases with a walk. That brought Trayvon Robinson to the plate, and Jones dropped a changeup that froze Robinson for strike three (actually, Robinson thought it was high). Jones stranded both runners.
Santiago deserved Jones' effort, because he picked up for Floyd after two innings and put together a two-headed quality start. Wells made him pay by taking a get-me-over screwball over the wall in left, which gave Seattle a 3-2 lead, but he pitched well otherwise (three hits and a walk over four innings).
Until Flowers' homer, the Sox lacked a power punch. Instead, they relied on the kindness of Seattle's sloppy defense to put runs on the board.
The Mariners looked like they were used to playing under a roof in such conditions. In the second, Ryan botched the most routine of choppers off the bat of Alex Rios with one out. Rios then stole second (Jaso fumbled the exchange) and moved to third when Ryan whiffed on his bare-handed attempt. Jordan Danks delivered a sac fly to tie the game at 1.
In the third inning, Kevin Youkilis hit a line drive to right that was falling in front of Wells. Had Wells pulled up, it would have meant runners on first and second and one out. But Wells dove, the ball got past him, and Youkilis had an RBI triple for a 2-1 lead. The Sox were taking their cuts otherwise, and even when adding in their successful seventh-inning hacks, they saw only 85 pitches over 6 2/3 innings. Then you see just how well Flowers timed his home run, and nobody can complain.
- Contrary to Seattle's flawed defense, Olmedo made four tough plays at second base -- a generous neighborhood call allowed him to make a tough turn at second, and then he tacked on a diving catch to his right, a diving stab-and-throw to his left, and a tricky backpedaling catch on Ryan's broken-bat flare.
- Ramirez also made a fine throw from the hole after ranging to his right.
- After angrily intercepting Robin Ventura during Saturday's ejection, Joyce made his displeasure known again with Dewayne Wise, who got into a brief argument with home plate umpire Jim Reynolds. Reynolds didn't like Wise's helmet flip after a called strike three. They talked it out with no ejection, but while Wise went to center, Joyce got in his face for some reason.
- The White Sox are 24-4 against Seattle since 2010.