Even though the Baltimore Orioles haven't won even 70 games in any of the last five seasons, they've found ways to bring the White Sox down to their level.
Tonight was no different. The White Sox held a 4-1 lead in the eighth inning. The Orioles eliminated it with three solo homers -- one off Jesse Crain and two off Hector Santiago, including Adam Jones' game-tying shot with two outs.
It only got worse from there. Zach Stewart started the 10th by allowing what looked like another solo homer off the bat of Mark Reynolds. But the soaring fly ran out of steam at the center field warning track, where Alejandro De Aza was waiting for it.
Not that he caught it. The ball missed his glove and rolled away from De Aza for a leadoff triple. Reynolds then scored on a double off that wall that Brent Lillibridge couldn't catch (a much tougher play -- he was running full speed, arriving at the wall at the same time the ball got there).
The laff riot didn't stop there. Robert Andino reached on an infield single to load the bases. Nolan Reimold singled to left to make it 6-4. J.J. Hardy pushed a bunt to first, and where Paul Konerko could see that Zach Stewart wasn't covering first, but couldn't see that Gordon Beckham was already there.
And just when Stewart seemed to limit the damage by getting a fielder's choice at home and a strikeout, Matt Wieters turned on a 3-2 pitch and sent it over the right field wall for a grand slam.
After tonight's disheartening loss, the White Sox are 19-23 against the Orioles since 2007.
The thing is, the Orioles didn't play particularly well. Before the 10th-inning explosion, they were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. They struck out 15 times, in part due to Lance Barrett's very large strike zone.
And their defense seemed to give the Sox a lead they could take home with them, starting in the sixth inning.
With the game tied at 1, De Aza led off with a single, and Brent Morel moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. The Orioles were kind enough to give Morel his life back with Chris Davis' error, putting two on with no out for the middle of the order.
Adam Dunn couldn't do anything, even with a 3-0 count (watched a pitch in his zone, fouled off another strike, swung over a good curve). Paul Konerko, on the other hand, lined Jake Arrieta's 1-2 fastball into the right field corner.
One inning later, Dayan Viciedo led off with a single. Pinch-running Lillibridge stole second, then popped up and ran to third when Wieters' throw bounced into center field. That gave the Sox three chances at getting an "insurance" run home, and De Aza succeeded when Reimold caught his pop-up in the first row of the stands along the left field line, giving Lillibridge an easy trot to make it a 4-1 game.
It was all so simple then.
- Phil Humber had an un-Humber line to start the season: 5 1/3 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 115 pitches. When taken together, all of those totals are strange.
- The White Sox were 2-for-2 stealing bases, and taking an extra base on a throwing error. Alex Rios also moved to third after his steal attempt.
- The Sox struck out 11 times, including a silver sombrero for Dunn.
- It seems like Barrett decided to restore the size of the plate for one batter -- Reimold in the ninth. Santiago threw what looked like four strikes (especially based on the evening's zone), and thought he'd rung up Reimold on fourth one. But that doesn't excuse two solo homers in one inning.
- Don Cooper was ejected for arguing the call on the way back from his fifth mound visit of the night.
Record: 5-4 | Box score | Play-by-play