The White Sox got shutout for just the second time this season, but that story will take a backseat to the fiasco that developed over the course of the game.
First a brief recap of the actual baseball on the field: The Sox led off the top of the third with 2 straight hits, putting runners at second and third with nobody out. That was pretty much the high point of the game for the Sox. After that, Tadahito Iguchi, Jim Thome, and Paul Konekro failed to get even a single of those runners in, the Sox managed just 2 more hits on the night, and Vazquez allowed four 2-out runs in the bottom half of the inning.
The real story of the night was the bizarre dust-up between Vincente Padilla and A.J. Pierzynski. To my knowledge, there is zero history between these two. (Comcast supposedly took a look back through their careers, and was only able to find a Pierzysnki HR, but he didn't appear to do anything that would draw Padillia's ire.) Leading off the second inning, Padilla hit Pierzynski with an inside fastball. He and AJ seemed to jaw a bit, and home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi hand delivered the ball back to Padilla. It seemed intentional, but it also seemed like things were resolved at that point, or at least that would be the last of the fireworks we'd see between the two. Leading off the 4th inning, Padilla again hit Pierzynski with an inside fastball, causing Cuzzi to immediately issue both benches warnings.
Of course, it didn't just end there. In the 7th inning Ozzie Guillen called on Sean Tracey, who I compared to Rick Vaughn last time out, giving him plausible deniablity when Tracey beaned Hank Blalock leading off the inning. Problem. Tracey, didn't hit him. He tried to hit Blalock. Twice. But that wasn't enough for Ozzie. When Tracey induced a groundout on a third inside pitch -- he was probably trying to hit Blalock for the third time. It almost looked like Blalock took a self-preservation swing. -- Ozzie sprung from the bullpen and immediately pulled Tracey in favor of Agustin Montero.
The Comcast cameras didn't show it, but Ozzie then proceeded to dress down Tracey in plain sight of cameras in the dugout. Thumbs down to Comcast for sanitizing the wrong part of their broadcast -- I could clearly hear swearing coming from the Sox pen when AJ was hit the second time, but they failed to show the developing story when Ozzie choose wrong the occasion to teach a young kid a lesson.
Guillen gets an even bigger thumbs down from me. Why bother playing the beanball game tonight? After the warnings are issued, you're subjecting yourself to an automatic two game suspension, and a 3-6 game suspension for your pitcher, depending on their usual pitching role. You have a history with William Nathaniel Showalter; I understand that. And, there's no doubt in my mind that Showalter had something to do with the second AJ HBP. Wednesday was not the night to settle the score, not after warnings had been issued.
What I didn't understand, is why Guillen ripped into Tracey for failing in his attempt to hit Blalock, yet nothing was made of Montero's inability to avoid the Rangers' bats. Montero wasn't hitting anyone, but they were hitting him. There's somebody to direct some anger at.
Thumbs down for Phil Cuzzi allowing Vincente Padilla to stay in the game after clearly headhunting. Padilla and Cuzzi get a pass for the first beaning, because there didn't appear to be a documented history between the two. After the second beaning however, Cuzzi dropped the ball. That's not the situation for warnings. That situation calls for an automatic ejection.
Before somebody tries to bring up that Padilla had yet to be warned, so he couldn't be thrown out, I have to point out that ejections are completely at the umpire's discretion. We've seen Mark Buerhle's 6-or-more-innings-a-start streak come to an end on an ejection without a warning. Cuzzi may not have known the history between those two entering the game, and could have denied that the first was unintentional, but all of those arguments were removed when the second pitch Pierzynski saw was also right at him.
While I'm handing out 'thumbs down' I have to mention Hawk. He burst a blood vessel in the second when AJ was hit, then went overboard in the 4th. He went so far as to say that if he was still playing, he'd be waiting for Padilla outside the clubhouse after the game. Keep your head, old man. Keep your head.
Hawk failed to point out that A.J. didn't exactly 'protect' himself with spikes-high takeout slides when he had the opportunity. Joe Crede, who struck out immediately following both beanings, did, however. In Crede's case though, I doubt it was noticed, thanks to the 8-0 score in the ninth inning when he did it.