Five pitches into this game, Andre Rienzo allowed up a double, committed two errors on a bunt, and gave up a sac fly to center that scored a run from second.
As early 2-0 deficits go, it was as ominous as the forecast. The White Sox offense has showed an ability to erase early leads, but could Rienzo settle down on his end?
Yes and yes. The bats tied the game early off Jake Odorizzi and posted two more crooked numbers, while Rienzo and Tyler Flowers figured out Plan B and shook the Rays off early-count fastballs. Throw in some high-quality bridge work by Zach Putnam and a scoreless inning from Matt Lindstrom, and this game had everything a White Sox fan would want to see -- at least after the first inning.
Alejandro De Aza made it a new game with a two-run homer in the second. And when Rienzo gave up an RBI double to David DeJesus in the top of the fourth, the offense had his back once again. Dayan Viciedo led off with a walk and scored on Alexei Ramirez's triple. After a De Aza groundout and a Flowers strikeout threatened to leave the go-ahead run at third, Marcus Semien delivered another one of his patented big hits, a double toward the line in left.
The Sox never trailed again, but they did lead harder. They tacked on a couple of crucial insurance runs in the sixth with a rally that started after De Aza was picked off for the second out. Flowers kept the inning alive with an infield single (BABIP!), Semien walked, and Adam Eaton chased them both home with a double to the warning track in left.
All the while, Rienzo stabilized. He didn't record a 1-2-3 inning all night, but he didn't get into serious trouble, either. Once the Sox gave him a second lead, he never jeopardized it, as the Rays could only reach base once there were two outs. Some scoff at the definition of a quality start, but when somebody like Rienzo does it (6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) with this kind of offense backing him, the Sox have to be satisfied.
And Sox fans were satisfied as Jose Abreu added yet another April RBI to his account, bouncing a run-scoring single through the middle in the eighth to cap a satisfying evening. Much like the on-and-off rain during the later innings, the dark skies at the beginning of Rienzo's night weren't much to worry about.
*The White Sox scored seven runs, and it could have been eight had Matt Joyce not made an incredible catch in left-center to double off Abreu at second to end the fifth. Abreu committed to home thinking the ball was going to drop in, and he wasn't wrong for doing so.
*Multi-hit list: Eaton, Abreu, Adam Dunn, Ramirez, Flowers.
*Putnam threw 17 out of 25 pitches for strikes over his two innings, and Lindstrom poured in 10 strikes out of 11 to close it out.