Robin Ventura has been reluctant to use Leyson Septimo in anything resembling an important situation. With four pitches, Septimo proved Ventura correct. Now, the question is whether Septimo will pitch in another game for the Sox this year.
With one out and nobody on in the 11th inning, Ventura called on Septimo to face Kelly Johnson for a classic LOOGY situation. Septimo walked him on four pitches, none of them even causing home plate umpire Brian Knight to flinch.
That was it for Septimo, but the damage was done. Nate Jones came in, and gave up an opposite-field single to Edwin Encarnacion to put runners on the corners. Jones then went full to David Cooper, getting two swinging strikes on off-speed pitches. Jones bet that Cooper was sitting fastball, but Cooper adjusted to a get-me-overish slider, and roped it into right field, where it short-hopped Alex Rios and brought the winning run home.
Usually, reliever wins and losses feel arbitrary. This one didn't, because a four-pitch walk isn't even giving anybody a chance to do something.
Then again, the Sox weren't going to score anyway. They struck out 16 times over 11 innings, and at an increasing frequency as the game turned over into extra innings. Steve Delabar struck out four in the 10th -- the first time any pitcher had done it during free baseball. Then he struck out two more in the 11th. There were sad swings aplenty from the start, as the Sox seemed to have problems picking up breaking balls.
The only guy who didn't have a problem: Adam Dunn, who generated all the offense with two impressive solo homers. The first was remarkable for its distance; at 469 feet, it was the longest White Sox homer since Jim Thome on June 4, 2008.
The second homer was more routine in size, but not its timing. He went the other way on Casey Janssen's first-pitch fastball and tied the game at 2. Too bad nothing else worked. Even when they reached base, they were 1-for-3 in trying to steal. Dunn was one of two White Sox to avoid striking out, which is weird.
At least Jake Peavy didn't throw his fourth eight-inning complete game this year. Dunn got him off the hook, so Peavy settled for a hard-working no-decision. He allowed just two runs on five hits and two walks over eight innings, even without a reliable slider. The lack of a breaking ball did result in two HBPs and 124 pitches.
His teammates had his back in terms of defense. Alex Rios erased a single when he made an outstanding throw from right to get Cooper at second, and Tyler Flowers prevented a bad situation from getting worse when he came up with a late Rios throw home on an RBI single, fired to second and started an inning-ending 9-2-6-4-2-5-1-5 pickle (there was a runner on third, which complicated matters).
Gordon Beckham made a great play on a grounder hit toward second, turning a hit-and-run into a 4-3 double play. And Peavy also pitched in with a fine play of his own, fielding a swinging bunt and firing to second in time for the out, which kept a leadoff walk from advancing into scoring position.
Flowers was 1-for-2 behind the plate when speedy rookie Anthony Gose tested him. Sure, Mark Wegner made the incorrect call on each attempt, but ... Mark Wegner.
- Usually the White Sox are the ones called for batter's interference on stolen base attempts, but this time, Rajai Davis was called out for holding his bat in front of Flowers after his swing while Flowers threw to second, almost like a tollgate. Oddly enough, Flowers' throw was terrific, but Wegner blew the call at second. There'd be a makeup call in store later, when the Sox correctly called a pitchout.
- After a shaky outing on Saturday, Brett Myers returned to dominant form, striking out two batters over a 13-pitch 1-2-3 inning.
- Dunn's two solo shots resulted in his 999th and 1,000th career RBI.