It had been a while, but an unremarkable fly ball to left field in late innings once again caused a whole lot of problems.
Justin Smoak led off the 10th with a high pop fly off Sergio Santos. Very high. So high, in fact, that somebody should have gotten to the ball in plenty of time.
Neither Juan Pierre nor Brent Morel did, and both are getting the blame. Morel went where few third basemen go -- in medium left field -- but he was tracking the pop-up off the bat, and nobody seemed to be calling him off. That's because Pierre acted like it wasn't his ball, slowing up twice, even though he had about 15 to 20 yards left to close.
Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone blamed Pierre for not calling off Morel. Bill Melton said after the game that it wasn't Morel's ball. I'm inclined to side with the former, because Pierre wasn't even close to establishing position. A lot of traffic accidents are caused when a person with the right of way can't make decisive action, and Pierre was in-between before he even checked to see where anybody else was.
Sure enough, a collision ensued. Pierre made a late dive attempt and missed, Morel went tumbling over him, and both rolling a few times as Smoak pulled into second with a leadoff double. A walk and a Miguel Olivo double later, the Mariners had a 6-4 lead, and a suicide squeeze was the icing on their cake.
The misadventure in left soured what was otherwise a satisfying effort, especially from the White Sox offense. After getting stymied by Jason Vargas and his changeup for the first six innings -- Carlos Quentin's first-inning homer was the only damage -- they were able to close the gap after Seattle opened up a 3-1 lead in the sixth.
They struck some two-out magic in the seventh, with Brent Lillibridge, Ramon Castro and Gordon Beckham all singling with two outs to make it a one-run ballgame. Seattle got that run back when Olivo homered off Jesse Crain on Crain's first pitch of the night, forcing the Sox to find two runs. They did, because Jamey Wright followed Crain's lead and served up a homer to the first man he faced, Quentin again.
That got Gavin Floyd off the hook. Floyd pitched OK, but he ran out of gas in the sixth. Staked to a 1-0 lead, he started the inning by allowing back-to-back singles. The Mariners tied it up on a Brendan Ryan fielder's choice, but when Floyd followed up by striking out Olivo, it appeared he was going to limit the damage. But then he walked Carlos Peguero with two outs, and on a 1-2 count to Franklin Gutierrez, he threw a rolling curve, and Gutierrez smacked it for a two-run double.