Simply disgusted with the White Sox's scoreless ten innings last night, Alejandro De Aza began today's game with a line drive home run to right. Hawk giggled. And Jake Peavy took the mound for his first start since April 26 with a lead under his belt.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Mets' Lucas Duda answered with his own leadoff blast to the upper deck in right field; and when Peavy walked Mike Baxter an out later, the feelings of doom and gloom lingered ever-so-slightly ... and ever-so-temporarily.
The next batter, Ike Davis, hit a ball to deep center field and Dewayne Wise tracked it down at a dead sprint to the wall. Wise caught it at the 408-foot marker, collided with the padding, and got the ball to the infield where Baxter was hustling back to first base. Baxter made it back safely, but Peavy's inning ended with the next at-bat and a sigh of relief on a Ruben Tejada groundout to Alexei Ramirez.
The top of the third put the Sox ahead by the largest lead they've possessed over a particularly painful week, since they posted three runs in the seventh inning against Texas on May 1. In the five games played since then, the Sox scored exactly ten runs total and were shut out twice. Therefore, the three-run rally in the third was especially enjoyable for offense-deprived Sox fans.
Peavy led off the inning and grounded out. Then De Aza somewhat amusingly followed his first-inning homer with a bunt single to third, and Alexei kept the line moving with his own single to second. Alex Rios gave the Sox the lead again with a lined double to center field. And then today's clean-up hitter, Conor Gillaspie, followed that with a two-run double of his own (via a pop-up that fell in a perfect spot in shallow center between a trio of approaching Mets).
From there, Peavy coasted along, enjoying the rarely seen offensive cushion. Despite a leadoff walk to David Wright in the bottom of the fourth, he faced the minimum number of Mets over the next three innings. Alexei helped him clean up that walk by starting a double play on a fantastically fielded ball.
Meanwhile, the Sox offense continued to pester Mets pitching. De Aza led off the fifth with his third hit of the night and stole second, which prompted catcher John Buck to make a terrible throw in an attempt to catch him. De Aza advanced to third on the error, and unfortunately that's where he still stood three outs later.
The Sox put together a little rally after two outs in the top of the seventh. Consecutive singles from Rios and Gillaspie culminated with an RBI single for Paul Konerko, which gave the Sox a 5-1 lead.
Mets starting pitcher Jeremy Hefner left the game scuffed after six innings. But the timing of his exit was closer-related to his spot in the lineup than his pitch count of 94. Peavy wasn't too far behind him despite the scales being generously tipped in his favor. He finished after 6⅔ innings, 114 pitches and a four-run lead that Matt Thornton carried into the eighth inning.
However, once he got there, the Mets managed to get an (unearned) run back on consecutive singles of their own. Tejada scored from first on a Justin Turner line drive down the right-field line, which Rios bobbled in the corner. Turner would have advanced to second on Rios' error, but he knee-buckled and face-planted while rounding first base.
It ultimately didn't matter because Jesse Crain took the mound after that play. Despite a two-out walk to Wright, he retired the side entirely on strikeouts.
In the top of the ninth, Rios atoned for his error by sending a solo shot deep to left field and extending the Sox lead to 6-2. This run proved all too meaningful come the bottom of the ninth, when Addison Reed fashioned himself a save situation after a couple more solid Mets hits (the first, a Baxter triple that got past a diving Jordan Danks in center) scored another run.
Tejada scored Baxter on a single, then took second on defensive indifference. Turner followed his lead exactly and suddenly the Mets had two men in scoring position with two outs, and the tying run at the plate in Juan Lagares.
Reed handled the situation with grace and struck out Lagares to end the ballgame.
Of particular noteworthiness:
- Eight of the Mets' final nine outs were strikeouts. Sox pitching combined to throw a total of twelve Ks, and continued their season of (oft-wasted) excellence.
- Gillaspie, in his first game on clean-up duties, went 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBI. In other words, Gillaspie proved that he's clearly clean-uppier than Adam Dunn (who coincidentally(?) sat this one out).
- De Aza and Rios both went 3-for-5 and combined for five of the six total runs. Ramirez was the only other White Sox to cross home plate tonight.
- The Sox are heading home to start a three-game series against the Angels on Friday.