With a difficult AL East road trip coming up and no off days in between, the White Sox needed a more comfortable kind of victory to give rest to the back end of their bullpen.
Chris Sale was up to the task, and his teammates would eventually join him.
Sale had all his pitches working, and used them to strike out 11 A's over 6 2/3 innings, and his fine work paid off when the White Sox knocked Bartolo Colon out of the game with five-run sixth.
For the second straight game, Jonny Gomes tied the game with a homer on a hittable off-speed pitch. This time, it was a changeup, and it knotted the game at 1.
Sox hitters, who seemed like they had a feel for Colon's pitches throughout the game, found a massive answer.
Initially, it took the form of a bloop by Alex Rios and a blast by A.J. Pierzynski, whose 23rd homer of the year was his first true opposite-field shot since September 16, 2010.
The boys didn't stop then. Two batters later, Dayan Viciedo rifled a ball down the right-field line for a double. Dewayne Wise, making his first start with the Sox this year, muscled a single into short center to make it 4-1. Rey Olmedo came through with his first palpable hit, which moved Wise to third. Yoenis Cespdes' throw to that base hit Wise's hand (over his helmet), and it got away far enough for Olmedo to take second.
With first base open, Colon intentionally walked Alejandro De Aza to challenge Gordon Beckham. This time, Beckham stepped up with a two-run single through the hole on the left side, giving the Sox a 6-1 lead and some sorely needed breathing room.
And when Sale gave up a solo homer to Adam Rosales in the seventh, Pierzynski found a way to get it back -- and if you didn't see the way he got it back, you wouldn't believe it.
Pierzynski led off with a single, and took off for second while Alexei Ramirez hit a grounder to the left side. Rosales and shortstop Cliff Pennington (who had two throwing errors earlier in the game) collided like Ben-Hurt chariots while converging on the grounder, with Pennington fielding it and making the throw once getting some separation.
With both infielders on the left side running towards first, Pierzynski kept running to third, since nobody was covering it. Catcher Derek Norris noticed well after Pierzynski was going to make it, but he kept running to third, because, hey, better late than never.
Pierzynski rounded third, and then pulled up a little to assess the situation. He noticed two things:
- Norris just passed him going to the other way to man third base.
- Nobody was covering home.
Evan Scribner, the pitcher, had his back to the plate, which meant that Pierzynski only had to win a foot race with first baseman Chris Carter, who had the ball. He won that race easily. The Sox took a 7-2 lead, and the run was charged to "fielder's indifference." Which is a funny way of saying "incompetence."
The Sox allowed a couple of solo homers -- one off Sale, one off Addison Reed -- but neither mattered, unless you're concerned about Sale's ERA rising from 2.59 to 2.60. Either way, his record improved to 14-3.
- The White Sox finished a nine-game homestand 5-4, winning two of three series.
- Sale slid awkwardly while trying to field a Cliff Pennington infield single, perhaps slightly twisting his ankle. He composed himself to strike out Jemile Weeks and strand two runners.
- Joe McEwing took a chance that Pennington had a third bad throw in him, trying to score Gordon Beckham from first on a line drive to the gap. Cespedes cut the ball off nicely and made a good throw to Pennington, who made a better throw home to get Beckham easily.
- Adam Dunn delivered the first run with a first-pitch sac fly, but didn't homer during the homestand.