It says something about the state of both teams that the White Sox ended up on the wrong side of three late-inning bad breaks ... and still beat the Royals.
To sweep them.
In a game started by James Shields.
Conor Gillaspie led off the 12th by golfing an 0-1 Luke Hochevar curveball just out of the reach of a leaping Justin Maxwell. His 11th home run of the season put the Sox ahead, and because it bounced back onto the field, it thoroughly confused Hawk Harrelson into a delightful call:
Way back! Maxwell at the wall, jumps … What is it? You can put it-no! Safe? You can put it on the board or what? Anyway, he’s coming around, you can put it on the boooooooard, yes!
That was the first break the Sox caught in several tries, and Addison Reed made it hold up. He pitched around a leadoff walk and stolen base to finish the inning with a strikeout, lineout and flyout for his sixth save in as many games. The last pitcher to enjoy a run like that? Eric Gagne in 2003.
The Sox may have stomped out the embers of Kansas City's playoff hopes in the process. If the Royals couldn't win this one -- with their best pitcher on the mound and two calls going their way late -- it's hard to see them rallying from this.
After all, the Sox lost an out in spectacular fashion in three consecutive innings. In the eighth, Alex Gordon robbed Alexei Ramirez of extra bases with a terrific diving catch in left.
In the ninth, Jordan Danks' bullet caught Greg Holland and ricocheted back toward Salvador Perez, who "threw out" Danks to end the inning. The replay showed that Danks was safe by the slimmest of margins, and while it cost the Sox a runners-on-the-corners situation, it was a call that truly could've gone either way. D.J. Reyburn deserved some benefit of the doubt..
Not so much the next inning, though. Alejandro De Aza should've reached on a swinging strikeout when the slider bounced to the backstop, but Reyburn legitimately blew the call to rob the Sox of a leadoff man aboard.
In the 11th, the White Sox gave the Royals a golden opportunity when David Purcey started the inning with a walk and a plunking. Purcey did retire Eric Hosmer with a flyout to shallow center, but he still left a mess for Jake Petricka to clean up in his major-league debut.
Petricka needed to only face one batter to escape the inning. He retired Salvador Perez with a 6-4-3 double play, and when Gillaspie put the Sox ahead in the top of the 12th, Petricka fell in line for his first MLB victory -- and he only needed five pitches to do it.
This is an even tougher loss for the Royals to swallow since they held a 3-0 lead at one point.
Jose Quintana threw a classic Gavin Floyd start -- he faced the minimum in six of his seven innings, but allowed thee runs in the other one. The first four Royals reached in the fifth inning on a walk and three singles, and a pair of sacrifice flies put them ahead 3-0.
The White Sox began battling back against Shields in the sixth. Jordan Danks doubled to start the inning, moved to third on Gordon Beckham's single two batters later, and scored on Alexei Ramirez's base hit. Adam Dunn moved Beckham to third when he beat out a double play, and the hustle mattered. It kept the inning alive for Dayan Viciedo, who dropped a single to shallow center to cut the Royals' lead to 3-2.
They tied it up one inning later. Gillaspie led off the seventh with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored when Josh Phegley's grounder down the first base line hit the bag and bounced into foul territory for an RBI double.
A strong effort by the White Sox bullpen -- Matt Lindstrom, Donnie Veal and Nate Jones got the game into extra innings -- set the stage for Petricka and Reed's fun items of trivia. And thanks to Andre Rienzo's first win on Wednesday night, this fun fact came out of the game as well:
#WhiteSox get wins in back to back games by pitchers born on June 5, 1988 (Rienzo & Petricka)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 23, 2013
Record: 52-74 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights