Angels 7, White Sox 5: Defense kicks game away from offense

USA TODAY Sports

Comebacks are hard enough already, aren't they?

What passes for a valiant effort by the offense -- not to mention a good comeback by Dylan Axelrod, too -- was undone by the defense.

The Sox had dug Dylan Axelrod out of a 5-1 hole with a four-run fourth, and Axelrod dusted himself off well enough to start the seventh.

And it looked like it started well when he got Hank Conger to hit a nubber to the left side. But it had a lot of spin on it, and Conor Gillaspie ended up over-ranging to his left. He booted it, Conger reached, Ventura pulled Axelrod, and after Matt Lindstrom started with a strikeout, the inning began to unravel.

J.B. Shuck bounced a single through the right side (oh, to have a first baseman with a little range) to put runners on the corners, and Mike Trout did some first-to-thirding on his own with a first-pitch single to right-center, giving the Angels a 6-5 lead.

The defense tacked on the second run when Tyler Flowers mishandled Lindstrom's fastball. Flowers did a good job to retrieve it in a hurry, but Lindstrom didn't see that he needed to cover the plate quickly enough, and the speedy Shuck slid in for the seventh run.

So an unearned run was enough to send Axelrod to 0-3 on the season. He didn't have a good night, as the Angels ambushed him for four runs in the third when he he got too repetitive with fastballs and sliders on the outer half of the plate. But he did salvage his evening by changing up his look. He went to more curveballs and changeups through his last three innings, and had a lot of success with it.

Alas, the White Sox offense shut down at the same time. That's actually disappointing, because based on their effort in the fourth inning, they looked capable of forming an attack.

It started with the middle of the order. Alex Rios started the inning with a double to right-center off Barry Enright, and Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko followed with walks. Gillaspie struck out looking after a 10-pitch at-bat, but the Wild PItch Offense assured the Sox wouldn't leave the inning empty-handed.

Then Dayan Viciedo assured the Sox would score more by drilling a double to the left-center gap to narrow the lead to 5-4. Viciedo moved to third on Alexei Ramirez's grounder to the right side, and then Flowers came through with a single to right to tie the game.

But after collecting six hits through the first four innings, the Sox could only get three guys on base the rest of the way, via a single and two walks. At least one was Viciedo's first of the season. Not a bad first game back for him, but the team effort is still lacking.

Bullet points:

  • Alejandro De Aza led off with a homer for the second straight game.
  • De Aza also committed an error when he failed to come up cleanly with Albert Pujols' "double," which allowed a second run to score in the third inning.
  • Rios made a nice running catch on the warning track in the right-center gap.
  • At 117 plate appearances, Jeff Keppinger is within striking distance of Brent Morel's franchise-long season-starting walkess streak.
  • Time of game: A dirge-like three hours and 35 minutes, all in 40-degree weather.

Record: 14-18 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights

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