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Indians 3, White Sox 2: Throwing games away

Matt Thornton's errant pickoff throw sets table for decisive single in eighth inning

Pictured: Two White Sox who did what they could
Pictured: Two White Sox who did what they could
Brian Kersey

The White Sox offense is giving the pitching staff no margin for error, so why a pitcher would commit an error while clinging to a one-run lead is beyond me.

But that's exactly what Matt Thornton did in the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second (infield single and a walk, naturally and naturally) and one out, Thornton tried to get cute by throwing to pick off Drew Stubbs at second. Ramirez snuck behind Stubbs, but Thornton threw low and behind his receiver, and it bounced beneath Stubbs and into center field, allowing both runners to advance.

Thornton came back to strike out Jason Kipnis, but when he tried a first-pitch fastball to Asdrubal Cabrera, Cabrera lined it right back to center field in front of Jordan Danks to drive in what turned out to be the tying and winning runs.

It was even a bigger kick in the pants than usual because in the bottom of the seventh, the Sox killed their own rally with cold-blooded efficiency. Hector Gimenez reached when Justin Masterson nailed him in the shin with a breaking ball. He had to leave the game, and Blake Tekotte came in to run. Masterson then threw four out of the zone to Danks.

Two pitches later, the inning was over. Alejandro De Aza showed bunt, but pulled it back when Masterson's pitch tailed well outside. Tekotte took a generous secondary lead, and Carlos Santana fired to second for the pickoff. On his next pitch, De Aza grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. The insurance runs the Sox desperately needed were off the board.

The Sox did mount an attempt at a game-tying rally in the ninth when Conor Gillaspie singled with one out. But Alexei Ramirez popped out and Tyler Flowers grounded out, and the Sox sealed their fourth consecutive loss.

Gillaspie continues to be one of the bright spots. Prior to his single, he tied the game in the second with a solo shot off Masterson, his first in a Sox uniform (and Masterson's first homer allowed in 2013). He also drew a walk and made a nice leaping grab to rob Mark Reynolds of a single or double.

Gimenez can also claim a nice night, at least before the shinburger. His first hit of the year was an RBI double over the head of Michael Brantley in left, which gave the Sox a 2-1 lead. He'd get Brantley again in another way, gunning him down on a steal attempt to end the fifth inning.

But Dylan Axelrod wins the "silver lining" award, as he turned in another six solid innings against a team that beat him up. He survived a rocky first few innings, which featured a lot of deep counts and a lot of time between pitches. But Axelrod, for all his struggles commanding his slider, didn't give in and throw hangers. He eventually got everything in working order, and he finished his night retiring nine of the last 10 he faced. He impressed with his strikeouts, throwing Carlos Santana a pair of swing-and-miss curves starting with a 3-1 count, and winning an 11-pitch battle with Cabrera as the second-to-last batter of his evening. He still doesn't have a win to show for his hard work, though, because the Sox committed the mistakes Axelrod failed to make when he was in the game.

Record: 7-12 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights