Trailing by 1 1/2 games with seven remaining, Jake Peavy took the mound knowing this could be the defining moment of his White Sox career.
He did just about everything he could against a red-hot Tampa Bay offense, limiting the Rays to two runs on four hits and a walk over 7 1/3 innings. He made a couple mistakes -- a leadoff double by Ben Zobrist came around to score on a couple of productive flyouts, and the count beat him on a 3-1 fastball to Luke Scott, resulting in a solo homer.
Otherwise, he minimized the game. The Rays went hitless with runners in scoring position, but they only had two at-bats. The only real jam he encountered came with two outs in the second, when Scott first-to-thirded Jeff Keppinger on a single to put runners on the corners. Peavy bounced back by striking out Matt Joyce.
And after the Scott homer, Peavy retired the next 10 batters he faced. His night ended after 118 pitches with a walk to pinch-hitting Sam Fuld, and he didn't want to give Robin Ventura the ball. He looked like a man possessed, but finally in a good way. He did everything he could, and he wanted to finish the job. That was every bit the bulldog performance the Sox had expected from Peavy, and often mocked him for failing to deliver.
Unfortunately, his signature performance was overshadowed by the defining moment of the White Sox season. If Hawk Harrelson wasn't sick before this game started, he would have fallen ill during.
James Shields entered this game on some kind of hot streak, going 7-2 with a 2.04 ERA over his last 10 starts (75 innings).
That guy wasn't around tonight. Shields pitched a horrible game. He was all over the place, allowing six hits, four walks and two hit batters over 6 1/3 innings. He twice loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth and fifth innings.
The White Sox scored two whole runs -- one when Shields hit Dayan Viciedo in the stomach, and another on a first-pitch Paul Konerko 6-4-3 double play.
As painful as it might be, let's see how those innings failed.
Fourth inning: After loading the bases on two walks and a single (the only hit out of eight at-bats with runners in scoring position), A.J. Pierzynski chased a slider to start his at-bat and never recovered for a K. Viciedo took one in the stomach to tie the game, but Alexei Ramirez popped out to short (check-swing fouling off a 2-0 slider that was low before that). Gordon Beckham finally made first contact, but right at Desmond Jennings for the third out.
Fifth inning: After loading the bases with a single, HBP and a walk, Paul Konerko rolled over an outer-half fastball for a run-scoring double play. Alex Rios then struck out swinging to kill the rally.
The Sox stranded a runner on second in the sixth and seventh innings, but they saved their most frustrating work for the eighth.
Pierzynski shot a single to left off Joel Peralta to lead off the inning. He was replaced by Jordan Danks. Likewise, Dewayne Wise pinch-hit for Viciedo. Both failed at their primary tasks.
Wise fouled off one bunt attempt, then pulled the bat back on a strike at the top of the knees. I don't think he should have been bunting to begin with, but that put him in a hole that he couldn't escape, striking out on a fastball up and out of the zone.
Alexei Ramirez followed with a flyball to center on a hit and run. Danks passed second, located the ball, and then headed back to first ... without touching second. The Rays caught him and stepped on the bag for the double play. So the pinch-hitter botched his bunt attempt, and the pinch-runner forgot to touch a base. That's how Ventura drew it up.
So at that point, it was just a matter of when the Rays would score. Evan Longoria answered that question when he hammered a Brett Myers rolling curve over the left-center wall to give the Rays a 3-2 lead. Fernando Rodney made it more interesting than he usually does, but struck out Adam Dunn with a 3-2 changeup to end the game.
The White Sox are now 2-8 in their last 10 games, and two games out of first. The White Sox's magic number was as low as nine; Detroit's is now five.
- Eight White Sox hits, eight singles.
- Peavy has thrown 211 innings with a 3.37 ERA. He is 11-12, and games like this one explain it.