Brent Lillibridge has won a couple of games with his defense this season. Tonight, he lost one.
His nonchalance in center field allowed Troy Tulowitzki -- who has OK speed and was running on the 3-2, two-out pitch -- to score from first on Ty Wigginton's bloop single to give the Rockies their first walk-off victory of the year.
It was indefensible for two reasons. For one, Lillibridge entered the game for Alex Rios, who had dropped a rather routine running catch a half-inning after his own indifference on a pop-up near the first-base line.
But Lillibridge might have given Colorado third-base coach Rich Dauer the idea to send Tulowitzki earlier in the game, when Lillibridge charged a ball at 80 percent with the speedier Eric Young making his way to third. When Lillibridge did it for a second time, Dauer waved Tulowitzki home, and he slid in as an irate A.J. Pierzynski received the throw to the first-base side of home plate.
That was the fingernail on a gigantic middle finger to the pitching staff, which held the Rockies to two runs over the first 12 innings, and didn't even get the courtesy of a threat from its lineup.
The White Sox offense died in the fifth when Jason Hammel seemed intent on giving them the game. After Rios' lame effort on the pop-up started the inning, an unlikely series of events unfolded:
- A single by Gordon Beckham.
- A four-pitch walk to Gavin Floyd.
- An RBI double by Juan Pierre.
- Brent Morel's second walk of the season.
That loaded the bases for Carlos Quentin, and Quentin got himself a favorable 2-1 count. And all he could do with it was hit a tailor-made double-play ball to Troy Tulowitzki. The White Sox failed to advance a runner to second for the rest of the game, hanging Floyd and the bullpen out to dry in the process.
Floyd gave up a number of hard-hit balls, but he still turned in quality results with seven innings of two-run baseball. The bullpen was even better.
First came Chris Sale, who faced the minimum over two innings. He allowed an infield single to Charlie Blackmon, but picked him off. Matt Thornton overpowered the Rockies in the 10th, and when he allowed a bloop single to start the 11th, Jesse Crain picked him up by retiring three straight.
Even Will Ohman had a signature moment. He came on with a runner on second and one out (thanks to Jim Tracy for not sending Blackmon on A.J. Pierzynski's arm, opting for the bunt instead), facing Jason Giambi. He retired him with a groundout to first, intentionally walked Carlos Gonzalez, and then struck out right-handed Chris Nelson to escape the jam.
Ohman even recorded two outs in the 14th, but thanks to Lillibridge's lackadaisical effort, he still was stuck with the loss. At least he can understand Thornton's pain better.