In the opener of this series, the White Sox lost a Chris Sale start.
Tonight, the Rangers dropped a Yu Darvish start.
The Sox couldn't hang the actual "L" on Darvish, but Hector Santiago battled him to a draw, and when it turned over to the bullpens, the Sox found the big hit first.
With one out in the ninth, Avisail Garcia sliced a single to right off Tanner Scheppers. Two batters later, Dayan Viciedo moved him to third with a successful hit-and-run up the middle. That brought Josh Phegley to the plate, and after taking a fastball strike and another one out of the zone, Phegley saw a third consecutive fastball for what might be the first time in weeks. He jumped on it, hammering a liner to left for the walk-off single, bringing a triumphant end to the first Civil Rights Game held at U.S. Cellular Field.
Up until that point, the Sox offense seemed to be playing Follow the Leader.
When Alex Rios hit a two-run homer off Santiago in the top of the sixth, Adam Dunn took Darvish out to left to tie the game in the bottom of the inning.
When the Rangers failed to cash in a second-and-third, one-out situation in the top of the seventh, the Sox couldn't convert a first-and-third, one-out situation in the bottom of the inning.
And when Donnie Veal retired the Rangers in order in the top of the eighth, Neal Cotts returned the favor to his former club in the other half.
Nate Jones ended up getting the win for pitching around sketchy HBP call, as he combined with Veal and Matt Lindstrom to throw 2⅔ solid innings.
Santiago was effectively wild over his 6⅓ innings, allowing just the two runs on the Rios two-run shot in the sixth inning. He flirted with danger on a few occasions, plunking three batters on top of five hits and three walks, but he never paid for wildness.
He pulled off a pretty nifty trick in the first inning, facing the minimum while allowing a hit and a walk. Leonys Martin led off with a single, but was erased with a slick 6-4-3 double play. With two outs, Santiago walked Ian Kinsler, and then picked him off to end the inning.
Darvish, on the other hand, seemed impossible to solve, striking out 11 over his seven innings with his variety of breaking stuff. But the Sox had to figure him out twice for it to count once. In the fourth, Paul Konerko hit a single through the left side with Alexei Ramirez on second. Ramirez headed for home, but Hunter Wendelstedt said he didn't make it. Ramirez slid into A.J. Pierzynski's foot while Pierzynski caught Craig Gentry's throw, and Pierzynski slapped the tag on him while Ramirez's other foot and leg were over the plate. It looked like Ramirez still got his foot in, but the call kept the game scoreless.
Nevertheless, the Sox were able to crack Darvish in the sixth. With two outs, Dunn found an outer-half fastball to his liking and went with it to left for a two-run shot to tie the game. Dunn now has 29 homers and 76 RBI on the year, and he could probably sit out the rest of the season and maintain his team lead for each category.
*Among Santiago's HBP victims? Pierzynski, who took a fastball to his back.
*Pierzynski was 1-for-3 with the HBP and the run scored. He also threw out Alejandro De Aza on a first-inning steal attempt and blocked Ramirez at the plate. Oddly enough, his pitch-calling may have been the weakness. Unless he really struggles catching Scheppers' slider, he might regret calling all fastballs for Phegley.
*The Rangers suffered a couple of ankle injuries. Darvish pitched through a tweaked ankle to finish the seventh, and Leonys Martin might have sprained his during a collision in the outfield, though it looked worse than that in real time.
*The Civil Rights Game seemed to go swimmingly. It was a pleasure hearing from Minnie Minoso, Hank Aaron, Kenny Williams, Frank Robinson, Sharon Robinson, Willie Horton, and Larry Doby Jr. during the MLB Network broadcast.