4 outs away. Freddy Garcia was only 4 outs away from throwing a Perfect Game Wednesday afternoon in SoCal. I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around that one.
Since his opening start of the season, I've been ragging on Garcia and his inability to throw a pitch over 90 MPH, so the fact that Garcia was so close to a perfect game is hard for me to comprehend. I would have been less surprised to be talking about Pablo Ozuna competing with Scott Podsednik for the AL homerun title right now.
Amazingly, Freddy's near perfect game may not have been the most unlikely event by a Sox player to take place on Wednesday. That title falls to Paul Konerko, who scored from first base on a double -- Earlier this season, he failed to score from second on a double -- and later had an infield single. I don't think Konerko will ever display speed like he did on the field today.
I can't really give much insight into how Freddy was able to pull off such a feat. Once again, my superstitions got the better of me. I didn't really feel like watching Freddy blow another game, so I tried to occupy myself during his first two innings. After seeing that he made it through the first six batters without allowing a baserunner, I decided that I should continue to only pay attention when the Sox were at bat.
The one thing I can say for sure about Garcia's outing is that he was consistently ahead of hitters -- I was still listening. I had to know when to tune back in, after all.
After seeing a replay of the pitch that ended his bid for perfection, I'm fairy confident in saying that Garcia's no-hit bid was actually hindered by the perfect game. With a 3-2 count, Garcia didn't want to throw anything out of the zone to Adam Kennedy, the result was a belt-high changeup(?) out over the plate. Had Garcia already allowed a baserunner prior to facing Kennedy, he may have been more willing to go with some breaking stuff that fell out of the zone.
The offense finally put together a competent performance, pounding out 15 hits against the Joe Saunders and the Angels. They're still in the middle of a homerun drought that currently stands at 38 innings, but they were able to string hits together and push runs across in 3 consecutive innings. Prior to scoring 1 in the second, they had scored in only 3 of their previous 31 innings of baseball.
The offense was not without it's faults however. Tadahito Iguchi made two different boneheaded baserunning errors. Once turning a sure 1-out triple into a lazy stand-up double, but the more inexcusable blunder came on a 2-out Paul Konerko single. Iguchi was on second, and should have scored easily on a ball lifted into the right-center field gap by Konerko, but Iguchi rounded third and slowed to a jog, eventually stopping completely when the ball reached the cut-off man. The ball started to be passed around the infield, and then into the catcher before Iguchi started jogging slowly back to third base. The whole ordeal caused Hawk to deliciously yell, "What in the hell are you doing, Tadahito?!" for what might be my favorite Hawk quote of the year.