But with the veteran core of the bullpen reduced to a fraction of its former self, we may see a lot of real thud finishes like tonight. This one ended with a Jason Giambi walk-off homer against Ramon Troncoso, who shouldn't be pitching in the ninth inning of a tie game under any normal circumstances.
Then again, while Troncoso is an easy target, it's hard to fault him or the pitching staff, which gave up only three runs (on four hits) to a talented offense. Troncoso pitched a 1-2-3 eighth himself before Giambi took him deep.
And the pitching staff -- especially John Danks -- could have allowed more.
Danks limited the damage to one run in the second inning despite some awful defense behind him. It started with a leadoff E5 that could've easily been an E1 -- Conor Gillaspie made an off-balance throw that was low, but a better first basemen might've been able to pick it cleanly off the turf.
Gillaspie was more at fault for what happened with Ryan Raburn. Raburn hit a rocket to third that deflected off the heel of Gillaspie's glove and into foul territory. That's understandable, but Gillaspie's lack of hustle gave the Indians the idea to take an extra base. So Danks had runners on second and third with nobody out.
Then he had a runner on third and one out when Carlos Santana hit a sac fly, and Dayan Viciedo airmailed the cutoff man, allowing Raburn to take third. Danks then walked Mark Reynolds, but he escaped the inning by getting a soft lineout and a routine flyout to end the inning.
Danks also did a good job of minimizing the bleeding in the sixth, although that was more his own doing. After the Sox had give him a 2-1 lead, he walked the first two batters, and Jason Kipnis dropped a bunt single in front of a mixed-up Gillaspie (not a banner day for him defensively) to load the bases with nobody out.
One run scored on a potential double-play ball that only netted one out. Alexei Ramirez snagged a hot shot, then flipped to second from his back. But the flip pulled Gordon Beckham off second, so his throw to first was the only one that counted in a 6-4-3 putout. Danks responded by fielding a comebacker for the second out, and getting Santana to ground out to short to keep it tied.
Unfortunately for Danks and the pitching staff, the White Sox's two-run sixth was their only scoring frame. It was a nice effort, too, with Alex Rios and Dunn hitting back-to-back doubles with two outs, then Paul Konerko cashing in Dunn with a single past Asdrubal Cabrera up the middle to give Danks a 2-1 lead.
They couldn't capitalize on either of their late-inning threats. In the eighth, Ramirez reached on an error by pitcher Cody Allen, then caught another break when D.J. Reyburn erroneously ruled him safe on a steal in which he was clearly out. Rios moved him to third with a flyout to right, but Rich Hill struck out Dunn on a full-count fastball to preserve the tie.
In the ninth, the Cleveland outfield gave the Sox an opportunity, and then took it away. Raburn -- who made a nice catch on a deep drive by Gillaspie earlier in the game -- played a blistered Viciedo single into a hilarious triple with two outs. Beckham followed by jumping on Chris Perez's 1-0 fastball and crushing it to left. He didn't hit it high enough, though, and Michael Brantley ran it down in left to set up Giambi's heroics.
- Steve Stone made the trip to Cleveland, but left the booth during the first half of the game. He's had some problems.
- The White Sox outhit the Indians 6-4.
- Both of Ramirez's steals were sketchy at best, really.