With Jake Peavy suffering from back spasms, Hector Santiago joined the rotation a day earlier than expected. The White Sox didn't suffer much of a drop-off in the rotation. Better yet, Tyler Flowers made up the difference by providing a big net positive in the catcher-production department.
Flowers' big swing on Justin Grimm's big, fat hanging curveball provided all the runs the Sox would score, and Santiago and the bullpen had enough in the tank make it hold up. The result: The Sox's first series victory since April 5-7 against Seattle.
If Santiago's rebirth as a starter began in earnest tonight, he'll have hit the ground running. Adrian Beltre's solo shot in the second inning as the only damage allowed by Santiago, who allowed just a double, two walks and a hit batsman while striking out six.
The only real jam he created was the one he left for the bullpen. After Flowers gave him a 3-1 lead with a two-out blast in the top of the sixth, Santiago got in trouble in the bottom of the inning, allowing the double to Ian Kinsler and a walk to Elvis Andrus with one out. Robin Ventura came out to get Santiago, who had thrown a season-high 92 pitches, and replaced him with Matt Lindstrom.
That's when the bullpen went to inefficient, yet effective, work. Lindstrom started his night by walking Lance Berkman to load the bases, but after throwing a pair of sliders to get ahead of Adrian Beltre 0-2, Beltre chopped a third one to third base. Conor Gillaspie fired to second, and Adam Dunn dug out Jeff Keppinger's low throw for the inning-ending double play.
Every successive inning started with the pitcher allowing the tying run to come to the plate.
Seventh: Lindstrom walked Nelson Cruz, but Matt Thornton retired the next three, going flyout-strikeout-flyout.
Eighth: Jesse Crain gave up a leadoff single to Leonys Martin, but after a pair of flyouts and a two-out walk to Berkman, he struck out Beltre with a big curve to end the threat.
Ninth: Reed walked Cruz to bring Pierzynski to the plate as the tying run. Reed plunked Pierzynski the night before, but he came back from 2-0 to strike him out this time. Tyler Flowers, taking a page out of the Pierzynski playbook, doubled up his predecessor by calling for a pair of changeups, and Reed executed them perfectly.
David Murphy was the trap hitter, and sure enough, Reed walked him. Finally, he was able to shut down the Rangers' offense for good, striking out Mitch Moreland and Martin to record his 10th save of the season in 12 White Sox winners.
Pierzynski went 0-for-4 in his first game against the White Sox since 2004. Flowers only went 1-for-4, but his one was satisfying, as it capped off a two-out rally. After Grimm set down Dunn and Paul Konerko, Conor Gillaspie poked a single through the middle to keep the inning alive. Ramirez fought off a 1-2 fastball for a soft single to left to bring Flowers to the plate, and he smashed the first pitch he saw well over the wall in left, just inside the foul pole.
The Sox needed that, because poor baserunning set up another frustrating blown rally in the third.
De Aza led off with a single, moved to second on Alex Rios' walk, and advanced to third on Dunn's bloop single. The problem was that he held up before reaching third, and began to retreat when he thought Jeff Baker had a shot. What he didn't see was that Joe McEwing was windmilling him home, and the ball was shallow enough to drop well in front of Baker. De Aza only made it to third, and he stayed there. Konerko struck out on three pitches, and Gillaspie followed suit on four. The Sox ended up stranding nine, but given the way this season has gone, an ugly win is beautiful for now.
- At 44 degrees, it was the third-coldest first pitch in history for a Rangers home game.
- Casper Wells made his first memorable play with the Sox, running down a shallow fly, then making an on-target throw to first to double up Moreland, who almost dislocated Dunn's patella with his butt with his awkward slide attempt back.
- The Sox handed the Rangers their first series loss of the season.