In his major-league debut, Andre Rienzo completed seven innings, gave up no earned runs, and came away with nothing to show for it.
Congratulations, kid, you're officially a starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. Just be grateful you didn't get the loss.
Rienzo held up remarkably well, overcoming a comically disastrous fifth inning in which three runs scored without the ball leaving the infield, to complete seven, handing a one-run lead to the bullpen.
Two consecutive hanging breaking balls by two separate relievers changed the game.
The first was Donnie Veal, who is the White Sox's No. 1 lefty reliever by default. With one out in the eighth inning and the White Sox leading 4-3, he allowed an Asdrubal Cabrera single past a diving Jeff Keppinger. Had Keppinger been playing at a normal position, it'd likely have been a routine out. But he was playing no doubles, and it got past him to his left.
The rest of the inning was on the pitchers. Veal hung a full-count breaking ball to Carlos Santana, who drove a liner to left-center. Alejandro De Aza cut if off and kept runners on the corners. Terry Francona called for Ryan Raburn, and Robin Ventura countered with Matt Lindstrom.
That was the right move. Lindstrom just didn't execute. On a 1-1 count, Lindstrom hung a slider to Raburn, who smoked it back through the middle, driving in both runs to give Cleveland a 5-4 lead. Lonnie Chisenhall followed with a single on another unimpressive pitch, and Yan Gomes scored two more when he smashed a decent pitch -- 97 mph fastball, low and away -- to the right-center gap, giving Cleveland a 7-4 lead.
Despite the pleasant events over the first seven innings, the White Sox have now lost eight of nine.
The White Sox gave Rienzo a quick 3-0 lead, scoring two runs on a crushed Adam Dunn double in the first inning, and Josh Phegley lining a first-pitch fastball to center for an RBI single in the second. That gave Rienzo an early cushion, and he handled it well.
His pitching warrants a separate post, so I'll keep this to the details. He got through the first three innings allowing just a pair of singles -- and one was erased by a lineout double play -- and struck out the side on 11 pitches in the fourth.
His control and general White Sox luck conspired against him in the fifth. He should've been able to erase a leadoff walk with a double-play ball, but John Hirshbeck screened Alexei Ramirez when the ball kicked off the mound. Ramirez couldn't pick it up to the last minute, and could only manage to knock it down, resulting in a cruel E6.
Rienzo responded with an incredible pitch on a full count to Jason Giambi for the first out, but gave up a single to Lonnie Chisenhall to load the bases. Then he walked Gomes on four pitches for the game's first run, and even that wasn't the most painful incident of the inning.
The next batter, Michael Bourn, hit a grounder to first. Dunn tried starting a 3-6-1, but Rienzo couldn't find the bag as the throw came in. His foot went behind it, and Bourn stepped on his heel. Rienzo fell to the ground, and by the time he recovered, two runs scored to tie the game. Throw in a blown third-strike call to Nick Swisher that led to a single, and the game threw a lot of crap at him over the duration of three outs.
But the offense looked favorably upn him afterward, regaining the lead in the sixth. After Keppinger grounded into a 5-4-3 double play with runners on first and second and nobody out, Dayan Viciedo picked him up with a laser rocket off Jason Kipnis' glove, driving in the go-ahead run.
Rienzo held that lead for the next two innings, and without drama. He retired seven of the last eight batters he faced to wrap up a nice night's work. His teammates weren't able to bring it home for him, and if he sticks around after the trade deadline, that's something he'll have to get used to.