The way this game started brought to mind the Fenway Flop of 2007, when the White Sox not only suffered a four-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox, but allowed 10 or more runs every game. Boston outscored Chicago 46-7, and that was when an awful season scraped the bottom.
Tonight, Hector Santiago failed to finish the fourth while throwing more than 100 pitches, and the White Sox trailed 4-0 before even scoring a hit off Ryan Dempster. Six years ago, that would've been enough to cause a cave-in, but this team has a little more pride. And talent. Definitely more talent.
As it turned out, the bullpen held Boston scoreless over the final 4⅓ innings, and the offense came within 90 feet of tying it up. They never could scrape that final run across, but if you're looking for moral victories, this one has some meat to it.
Especially since Avisail Garcia homered again.
The White Sox trailed 4-1 when Garcia came to the plate against Dempster to lead off the seventh. On a 1-1 count, Dempster threw Garcia a high slider on the outer half of the plate, and Garcia took it the other way. It could best be described as a "swat" -- he elevated his hands, barreled it up, and just smacked it to the center-field side of the Boston bullpen in right field to cut the Red Sox's lead to two.
Dayan Viciedo chased Dempster with a one-out single, and John Farrell called on Junichi Tazawa to finish the seventh. He didn't do it cleanly. Josh Phegley lined out to left for the second out, but Alejandro De Aza's bullet to right couldn't be caught. It rattled around the corner, and Viciedo scored from first on De Aza's RBI triple to narrow the gap to 4-3. Gordon Beckham had a chance to tie it up, but he hit a flyout to deep center to end the inning, and the White Sox couldn't muster another threat, as Koji Uehara showed why opponents are only hitting .142 off him with a four-out save.
It could've been worse. Santiago threw the shortest White Sox start since Dylan Axelrod lasted only five outs into his July 5 start, and those two are the only White Sox pitchers to throw 100 pitches without finishing four innings. He threw just 52 of his 101 pitches for strikes, walking five btters and plunking another on top of five hits. He also allowed a pair of stolen bases, which made innings seem even longer. His night ended with David Ortiz snapping a 0-for-23 streak on a full-count fastball for a two-run single for a 4-0 lead.
The front line of the White Sox bullpen kept the game within reach. Jake Petricka finished the inining and worked an drama-free fifth, and David Purcey survived wildness (the ol' walk after an intentional walk) to throw two scoreless innings himself. Matt Lindstrom capped off the excellent night of relief work with a scoreless eighth.
*Paul Konerko ran into an out in the fifth inning when he misread a grounder to the left side and got caught between third and home, but Garcia advanced into scoring position on the play, and Viciedo erased the miscue with an RBI single.
*This game only lasted three hours and nine minutes, when the first four innings suggested a marathon.