Just like in 2005, the White Sox won Game 4 at Minute Maid Field. Unlike 2005, there were no champagne celebrations. Instead: relief, as the Sox snapped a four-game losing streak and avoided an unseemly sweep by the overtly rebuilding Houston Astros.
It didn't come easy -- they only scored in one inning, they needed the Astros' help to post the crooked number, and they needed the best of the bullpen was needed to preserve it. That's nothing new.
Bud Norris looked unimpressive all night, especially with his slider command. He hung plenty of them, but it didn't come back to bite him until the sixth inning. Even then, defense contributed more to his collapse than his pitching.
He survived his worst pitches. After Alejandro De Aza singled to start the inning, Alexei Ramirez lined out to left, and Alex Rios followed with a screaming knuckler right to Brandon Barnes in center.
When the Sox switched to soft stuff, the Astros defense didn't know what to do with it. First, they didn't put the shift on for Adam Dunn, and he poked a single through where the shortstop usually plays to put runners on the corners. Paul Konerko followed with a weak grounder back through the box -- and between Norris' legs. He couldn't get the glove down in time, and Ronny Cedeno couldn't make a play on it, either. De Aza scored to make it 2-1.
Up came Conor Gillaspie, and he hit a grounder to the right side. Carlos Pena and Jose Altuve both pursued it, with Altuve flagging it in short right field. He turned and made a nice, firm throw to Norris, who was covering first. But Norris whiffed on it, and that "single" loaded the bases for Dayan Viciedo.
Viciedo had already been robbed by Barnes at Tal's Hill in center earlier in the series. This time, Viciedo challenged him again, and he hit it a little farther, Barnes couldn't get there, and Viciedo tripled to clear the bases, giving the Sox a 4-2 lead.
That got Jose Quintana off the hook. Quintana didn't pitch poorly, but inefficiency killed him. He used up 104 pitches over 4⅔ innings -- and that included a pair of 1-2-3 innings. Nate Jones had to finish the fifth, and he ended up picking up the victory.
Quintana allowed five hits and three walks while striking out five, but Jason Castro, who provided the decisive runs on Sunday, did the only damage off Quintana.
He followed up a Jose Altuve single with a blasted double to left-center on a hit-and-run that scored Altuve. De Aza had the option of calling for a ground rule in left center, as the ball stuck between the padding and the chain link fence. Dayan Viciedo raised his arms, but De Aza pulled the ball out, and Altuve's run was uncontested.
Two innings later, Castro knocked in Altuve with another double to double Houston's lead to 2-0.
Sure enough, Castro had a chance to play wrecking ball once again in the seventh. Jones gave up a pair of singles to start the inning, bringing Castro to the plate with runners on the corners. Robin Ventura called for Matt Thornton, who allowed a two-run homer to Castro on Sunday.
Thornton avenged it this time. He got ahead 0-2, and executed perfectly afterward. He threw one fastball slightly high and away for a ball, then came back with a perfectly located slider that Castro swung over for the strikeout. That was the only batter Thornton faced, but the situation was transferred into even better hands with Jesse Crain. He struck out J.D. Martinez while Altuve stole second, then got Chris Carter to swing through a slider to end the threat.
Crain pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, tying the franchise record for most consecutive scoreless appearances with 27. Addison Reed followed suit in the ninth for his 20th save.
- Hector Gimenez had a rough night, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and allowing three steals in three attempts. Two were due to bad throws, including one that was way off on the second-base side for an error.
- A 4-2 game lasted three hours and 33 minutes.