Mark down the fourth inning of this game as the clubhouse leader for "Most Fun Inning of the Year." The White Sox had scored seven in an inning before -- the ninth inning on April 20 against current White Sox starter Hector Noesi -- but that outburst was largely ceremonial. This one meant more.
Brandon McCarthy started the game by retiring the first nine batters. He ended his night by letting nine of the next 10 batters reach base. Alejandro De Aza kicked off the inning with an extended at-bat, smacking the eighth pitch for a double. It seemed like the next nine batters saw eight pitches total by comparison, especially given the way the rally continued:
- Gordon Beckham: Second-pitch line-drive RBI single.
- Conor Gillaspie: Second-pitch line-drive RBI single.
- Jose Abreu: First-pitch line-drive RBI single.
Adam Dunn struck out on five pitches, but Dayan Viciedo bounced a single through the right side on the fifth pitch to load the bases for Alexei Ramirez. McCarthy missed with a fastball and two curves to paint himself into a corner. He threw a get-me-over fastball to avoid walking in the run, and Ramirez jumped on it, sending it into the White Sox bullpen to give the Sox a 6-2 lead.
And they weren't done, as three straight singles by Moises Sierra (second pitch), Tyler Flowers (first pitch) and De Aza (second pitch) stretched the lead to 7-2 and forced McCarthy out of the game. Ten White Sox batters saw just 32 pitches and turned them into seven runs, and it'd be more than enough to get the Sox back over .500.
Andre Rienzo did what he had to do, allowing three runs over 5⅔ innings. He put the Sox in a 2-0 hole in the third inning when a fastball that was supposed to be inside drifted over the plate, and Gerardo Parra crushed it for a two-run homer. Once armed with a huge lead, though, he didn't do anything to jeopardize it. He just couldn't quite get to quality start territory, running out of gas with two two-out walks in the sixth, which prompted Robin Ventura to call for Zach Putnam.
Putnam retired all five batters he faced -- although only four counted, because Ramirez dropped a routine pop-up. That turned out to be the only baserunner the White Sox bullpen allowed, as Ronald Belisario and Matt Lindstrom closed it out with zero dramatics.
The White Sox offense also eased up a little, but they tacked on two more runs with solo shots. Abreu gave the Sox a second homer on a 3-0 count, teeing off on a fastball and sending it to Thome Country in the center field greenery 442 feet away. Flowers teed off on an equally fat pitch (a first-pitch Joe Thatcher get-me-over slider) for his second homer of the season to lead off the eighth.
*Ramirez's grand slam was his first since April 25, 2009. He hit his first five grand slams over a period of five baseball months, then needed five years to hit his sixth.
*On the flip side, he also committed two errors on routine plays. Besides the dropped pop-up, he also threw low and wide after gloving a grounder to his right. He had more time to get a firmer plant foot.
*But he made up for it by legging out a triple. He really had a night.