With the returns of A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios, the hosting of the Civil Rights Game, and a first-place opponent whose games matter, the weekend brought an unusual amount of excitement to U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox rose to the challenge, taking two of three in a pretty crisp series.
Then the worst team in baseball followed, and tonight played out like a hangover. The Sox trailed by scores of 6-1 and 7-3, but came back to take an 8-7 lead before fumbling it in the late innings. You could say it was a contest between two proud teams that took a lot of pride in how bad they've been this year.
The play-by-play is rather inconsequential, because the story of this game was the stunning amount of wrong turns this game took. So let's itemize instead.
Andre Rienzo made mistakes. Rienzo gave up seven runs over six innings, but he was in line for the win at one point, which tells you how this game went. It was just one of those starts where his bad pitches were walloped. He gave up three homers, and a number of other hard-hit balls.
Alejandro De Aza made mistakes. He led off the bottom of the first with a double, moved to third on a flyout, then ran into an out when he broke home on a nubber to the mound, then couldn't get back to third, which prompted some classic De Aza grimacing. He was also charged with an error on a double to the gap that he didn't pick up cleanly, although it seemed like it would've been a triple regardless.
Avisail Garcia made mistakes. He charged a sinking line-drive single in order to make a strong throw home and ended up whiffing on it, resulting in two runs scoring on a two-base error. He also watched strike three with the bases loaded in the ninth to end the game after Jordan Lyles fell behind 3-0, although Lyles made a pretty tough pitch.
L.J. Hoes made a mistake. He should've ended the fifth inning by catching Gordon Beckham's drive on the warning track, but it clanked off his glove, and a run scored to narrow the gap to 6-3.
David Martinez made mistakes. He relieved Oberholtzer in the sixth and promptly allowed the first four batters to reach. In the middle of it all, he balked in the tying run.
Jake Petricka made a mistake. With a one-run lead, two outs and the tying run on second, Petricka hung a slider to Chris Carter, who laced it to center to tie the game at 8. Perhaps Petricka wanted to win his second career appearance, too, but Robin Ventura crushed that dream by calling for Donnie Veal to finish the inning.
Chris Carter made it a back-to-back job, but the pitch itself wasn't bad -- a fastball at the knees and on the outside corner. Pitch selection might've been the bigger issue, as Carter fanned hopelessly at a slider the pitch before. But Carter put a good swing on a good fastball and flipped it over the wall in right-center to make it 10-8. So as far as mistakes go, this one didn't register, relative to the many, many others.
- Adam Dunn hit his 30th homer of the year, after coming within a foot of going out to center earlier in the game.
- The Sox turned a 2-3-1 double play. With Brandon Barnes on third and one out in the second, Jonathan Villar hit a swinging bunt in front of the mound between Rienzo and Josh Phegley. Phegley picked it up and fired to first, and Barnes broke for home in an attempt to catch the Sox sleeping. Rienzo was ready for it, catching a good return throw by Paul Konerko, blocking the plate with his foot (enough of it at least) and slapping the tag on Barnes to escape the jam.