R.A. Dickey is no stranger to slow starts, and after six easy innings against the White Sox, he's probably clear from his usual early woes. Now he has to worry about neck and back stiffness that forced his exit after just 64 pitches.
The Sox probably wished he needed to leave a little earlier, as the Sox dropped the last game of a 10-game road trip to finish 3-7. They did show a little life after Dickey left, but it wasn't enough to bail out Chris Sale, who didn't deserve to allow three runs (two earned) over seven innings judging from his stuff alone.
Sale was, however, part of the extracurricular issues surrounding the run-prevention part of the game.
Rajai Davis led off with a single, stole second, stole third and scored on Edwin Encarnacion's single. He didn't hold Davis particularly close on the swipe of second, but since he struck out Melky Cabrera with the pitch, his attention to the hitter paid off. The swipe of third was due to negligence, and Davis' baserunning gave the Blue Jays a quick 1-0 lead.
Likewise, Sale put speed on the bases when he hung onto a slider and hit Emilio Bonifacio in the back quad to put him on base. He then had Bonifacio breaking the wrong way on a pickoff attempt, but he threw it wide, allowing Bonifacio to reach third.
Adam Dunn compounded the issue two batters later when he booted a Munenori Kawasaki grounder while playing in. He could have had a shot at home if he came up with it cleanly, but he botched the easy part of play, allowing the run to score. Then Davis won a nine-pitch battle by doubling to the gap to score Kawasaki.
Then Sale picked Davis off second. Bah.
Sale had his liveliest stuff of the season otherwise, allowing just four hits and a walk (along with the HBP) over seven innings. Perhaps Rogers Centre had a hot gun, but he topped out at 97, and his average two-seamer ran 94 mph. He was definitely using it more than normal, throwing 52 fastballs to 23 sliders (the weak part of his arsenal tonight).
But he couldn't hold up against Dickey, whose knuckleball baffled Sox hitters from the start. The Sox didn't get their first baserunner until Alex Rios singled with two outs in the fourth. Paul Konerko reached with a walk, but Adam Dunn struck out to kill that threat.
The Sox finally got on the board in the eighth, as Tyler Flowers turned around an Aaron Loup fastball and launched an opposite-field double off the wall to score Alexei Ramirez. But while they scored their first run, they lost the services of Dayan Viciedo, who strained his left oblique on one of his vicious swings, forcing him to leave the game. Jordan Danks took over with two strikes and finished the K.
Loup ended up stranding Flowers at second to end the eighth, and Casey Janssen -- thanks to yet another generous off-the-corner call on a 2-0 pitch to the first batter he faced, Jeff Keppinger -- ended up recording a 1-2-3 inning.
- Ramirez made an incredible charging, barehanded play to throw out Kawasaki and save Sale a run in the second.
- Dunn went 0-for-3, and finished the 10-game road trip with one hit in 33 at-bats (36 PA).