Good enough pitching, good enough hitting and sound managing pulls the White Sox back within one game of the Tigers.
Through and through, this was a cobbled-together win.
Robin Ventura had to get creative with his bullpen after taking whatever Gavin Floyd could give him through five innings. The offense still couldn't deliver a true knockout punch, but finally showed the ability to string together some hits. The collaborative effort, combined with assistance from the Minnesota Twins, was good enough to cut the Tigers' lead in the AL Central down to just one game with five to go.
Alex Rios helped tie the hodgepodge attack together. He took Jeremy Hellickson deep to lead off the fourth inning, giving the Sox a 2-1 lead. He nearly did it again in the seventh, but had to settle for a double just short of the wall in left. A.J. Pierzynski moved him to third with a flyout, and after Dayan Viciedo struck out, Alexei Ramirez came to the rescue with a single to left to stretch it to 3-1.
(And preceding his offensive contributions, Rios made a nice running catch in the right field corner with runners on first and second in the second inning, keeping the Sox within striking distance at 1-0.)
Robin Ventura got the Sox to the finish line with some unorthodox pitching selections. He had to pull Floyd after five because of pitch count. He had thrown 105 pitches, with five walks and roughly, I dunno, 37 full counts.
This time, Ventura used his major-league relievers. Jesse Crain came into the game in the sixth inning, and pitched so well that he almost completed the eighth. His breaking ball never looked better, and he used it for four strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings. He nearly completed three innings, but he plunked Evan Longoria on a 0-1 pitch with two outs in the eighth.
Ventura then went to Matt Thornton to face Luke Scott. Joe Maddon countered with Sean Rodriguez. Thornton didn't make Rodriguez swing, issuing a five-pitch walk. Ventura went back to the bullpen for Nate Jones, and he got Jeff Keppinger to ground out to third to end the threat.
In the ninth, Ventura used Donnie Veal for the first out (a beautiful strikeout of Ben Francisco), and Addison Reed for the final two and his 29th save. We saw plenty of machinations for a single win, but nobody's complaining.
- You can also give an assist to the cool evening, which kept two Tampa Bay warning-track flies from leaving the yard. Usually the White Sox are the ones that get dragged down by dropping temperatures.
- Joe McEwing held up Adam Dunn when he could have scored from first on Paul Konerko's sliced single down the right field line. Dunn had rounded third before Joyce had full control of the ball, and his throw was well off the plate.
- The White Sox went just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, but both hits scored a run. Kevin Youkilis got the scoring started with an opposite-field single to drive in Gordon Beckham