Alex Rios might be Comeback Player of the Year at the end of the season. For now, he'll have to settle for Comeback Player of the Game.
His season of redemption continued tonight with a trio of timely hits. He put the first run on the board with a single through the left side off Zack Greinke. He stopped the Angels' streak of unanswered run with a solo shot to left, cutting the Angels lead 6-5.
And with a runner aboard and one out in the 10th inning, Rios jumped on a David Carpenter fastball and dropped it into the first row just left of center, and just over the outstretched glove of a leaping Mike Trout, giving the White Sox a thrilling victory.
In the process, he also redeemed Philip Humber, who put his teammates and some 32,000 fans through a torturous first five innings thanks to inability to record the third out. The Angels scored all six of their runs with two down, and increasingly frustrating fashion.
First inning: Mark Trumbo singles the opposite way to score Torii Hunter to give the Angels a 1-0 lead.
Second inning: Humber walks ninth-hitting Chris Iannetta to bring potential MVP Mike Trout to the plate. Trout promptly rips a 425-foot blast that nearly reaches the concourse in left.
Third inning: Humber issues back-to-back walks with two outs, and then gives up back-to-back singles to Howie Kendrick and Maicier Izturis. The Angels take a 5-4 lead.
Sixth inning: With two outs and a 2-2 count, Humber hangs a curveball to Albert Pujols, and Pujols did what he normally does to hanging curves.
Robin Ventura pulled Humber after that pitch, and it certainly seemed like the Sox had the wind taken out of their sails after an early assault on Greinke.
Kenny Williams did all he could to acquire Greinke before the deadline, but it turned out he didn't have the prospects. His hitters did everything they could to console him.
The first three batters loaded the bases with two singles and a walk. Paul Konerko hit a bouncer to third, and Alberto Callaspo came home to start a 5-2-3 double play. But the combination of a good slide by Alejandro De Aza and an inside route taken by Konerko forced the catcher Iannetta to take a couple steps to get a throw off, and it was late.
Mike Scioscia came out to argue that Konerko should have called out. It took several minutes, and ended with him lodging a formal protest. It couldn't have helped Greinke, who had to stand around and wait it out. Rios greeted him with a single to left to tie the game, and it could have been a 2-1 lead if it weren't for the toughness of Iannetta. Mark Trumbo made an accurate but slightly high throw home, forcing Iannetta to leave his feet as Dunn came rumbling in. Dunn lowered the boom like he would on a receiver over the middle, knocking Iannetta flat on his back -- but Iannetta held onto the ball for the second out.
Fortunately, A.J. Pierzynski made it kind of pointless by jumping on a 1-1 pitch and hitting his career-high 19th homer 420 feet to right center.
The other runs would be harder to come by. Rios hit his first homer of the game in the sixth inning, and they manufactured a run in the seventh. Alexei Ramirez led off by getting down and picking a breaking ball off the dirt for a single. Gordon Beckham bunted him to second, and Ramirez then came around to score on an opposite-field ground-rule double by De Aza.
An outstanding effort by the bullpen gave the Sox offense time to regroup. Nate Jones finished the sixth, completed the seventh, and Jesse Crain, Brett Myers and Matt Thornton each took an inning. All of them went unscored upon, and Thornton picked up the win after walking a tightrope. He faced Pujols with runners on the corners and two outs, and got the future Hall of Famer to tap back to the mound to end the threat.
- Beckham started a sensational 4-6-3 double play in the seventh inning with a great pick and an even better throw, helping Jones get his footing after the first two batters reached.
- The White Sox are now a season-best 11 games over .500.
- They're also 5-5 in extra-inning games.