The White Sox spent five innings handstakingly constructing a multiple-run lead piece by piece.
One swing of the bat ruined all their hard work.
This isn't supposed to happen with Chris Sale on the mound. Then again, Conor Gillaspie's bid for a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth isn't supposed to be pulled back by Josh Reddick, breaking Hawk Harrelson's stretching heart for the second straight night.
This White Sox team went from getting beaten predictably and monotonously, to getting kicked in the nuts from every angle, and they're passing all the pain and nausea on to you at no discount.
They set this one up by putting together a decent effort against Jarrod Parker. After getting shut out five days ago, the Sox tacked on three single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Tyler Flowers hit a solo shot, Dayan Viciedo added a sac fly, and Alejandro De Aza followed suit for a 3-0 lead.
Sale had been cruising, allowing just two singles over the first five innings. You can probably guess what happened in the sixth, mainly because I gave it away in the headline.
Adam Rosales, Thursday night's hero, led off with a soft single. After a Coco Crisp strikeout, Jed Lowrie singled to left. De Aza, as he is wont to do, failed to corral the hop, giving Rosales an extra base and putting runners on the corners.
The red-hot Yoenis Cespedes came up. Sale threw a first-pitch changeup that crossed the plate at the knees, but it was ruled a ball. Another ball required a mound visit, and after a mound visit, he pitched around Cespedes to load the bases.
That brought the go-ahead run to the plate, and he would indeed put Oakland ahead. Josh Donaldson took a 1-1, 95-mph fastball the other way and put it into the Bullpen Sports Bar. It didn't seem like a sure homer off the bat, but it looked like one on the scoreboard. The A's led 4-3, and that's where it stayed.
Not for a lack of chances. The Sox created a golden opportunity for themselves in the eighth when Tyler Flowers led off with a single and De Aza walked. Casper Wells pinch-ran for Flowers, but he wouldn't get an opportunity to run.
Substitute manager Don Cooper called for Alexei Ramirez to bunt, so of course he popped it up. Alex Rios got a chance to swing away, but he too popped it up to the right side for the infield fly rule. That left it up to Adam Dunn, and while he hit it really high, it wasn't far enough, landing in Crisp's glove well short of the fence in center for the third out. After returning from commercial:
Hawk Harrelson: "For a team that really has a pretty good offensive club, this has been the most inept I've ever seen an offense."— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) June 8, 2013
But the ninth was even crueler, because after Dayan Viciedo swung haplessly through Grant Balfour's challenge fastballs for a strikeout, Gillaspie turned on one to right. It looked good off the bat, but not good enough for a REDDICKDUDDNMOOOOOOO.
No, Reddick moo'ed all right, setting up right in front of the wall and perfectly timing his leap to bring it back. One night after the wind knocked down a potential Dunn walk-off, Balfour's bacon was saved once again, and he proceeded to save the game by getting Gordon Beckham to fly out to center.
*Flowers had three hits, tying a career high.
*Sale threw 7⅓ innings and 118 pitches, one short of a season high. He turned into Pissed Sale after the slam, touching 97 with a fastball.
*Ramon Troncoso made his White Sox debut and gave the Sox a scoreless ninth inning, allowing a hit and striking out two.