It was just a few days ago that the White Sox blew a six-run lead in the ninth inning. Giving up a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth -- even after Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza stung Cleveland closer Chris Perez for solo shots in the top of the inning -- is merely a more ordinary kind of amazingly awful.
So when Jason Giambi turned on a low and inside Addison Reed slider and golfed it well over the wall in right field for a walk-off shot, it shouldn't have surprised anybody. Not only did it hand the Sox their 13th consecutive loss to the Indians (the longest losing streak to any opponent in franchise history), but it was the second time Giambi took Reed deep this year. It pretty much had to happen, especially after a grounder to the right side
scooted under skipped over a ranging Gordon Beckham's glove to put the tying run aboard, allowing Giambi to come to the plate in the first place.
That didn't mean it didn't sting. The Sox had just forced a rare blown save, and immediately. Perez started his ninth by trying to sneak a 1-1 fastball past Viciedo up and on the outer half. Viciedo went with the pitch, hitting a high fly that cleared the fence to tie the game. Perez rebounded with a couple of strikeouts, but, like Reed, he found the third out too difficult to record. De Aza turned on a first-pitch fastball and bounced it on the concrete surface behind the wall -- and Matt Carson's outstretched glove -- to give the Sox the (briefest of) lead(s).
The Sox didn't much care for holding leads tonight, though. Or maybe just ones provided by De Aza.
In the seventh, Ubaldo Jimenez left men on first and second with two outs for Cody Allen. De Aza watched two fastballs out of the zone, then lined a third fastball to left for an RBI single. Hector Santiago then took the mound for his seventh inning of work, and gave up a game-tying solo shot to Michael Brantley on the first pitch.
Santiago gave up a single and a sac bunt before yielding the floor to Nate Jones, who couldn't shake his struggles. He got Nick Swisher to fly out for the second out, but he hung a slider to Jason Kipnis, who knocked a single to left to give the Indians a 3-2 lead.
If nothing else, Viciedo and De Aza helped get Santiago off the hook. He pitched better than his final line indicated -- 6⅓ IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR. He threw more strikes, and overcame a 20-pitch-per-inning average over the first three innings to finish six with 98. The subsequent pitches were problematic, but he gave the Sox a nice start to finish his season.
*The pair of homers in the ninth extended the game long enough for Gillaspie to get plunked by Mark Rzepczynski. Not only was it Gillaspie's first HBP, but it was the first time a White Sox hitter was drilled since Aug. 20. The 33-game streak is the longest without an HBP since World War II, as plunkeveryone noted in his FanPost.
*Josh Phegley drew two walks for the first time in his career, and both by Jimenez. Fun fact: Jimenez is the only pitcher to walk Viciedo three times in his career.
*Adam Dunn went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. He has now struck out 53 times over his last 104 at-bats.