Injuries pressed the White Sox into calling up a 29-year-old rookie to make his debut against a Cy Young winner backed by the league's most airtight defense.
As expected, Scott Carroll outdueled David Price, thanks in large part to a four-error inning by the Rays.
Through five innings, Price posted zeroes while Carroll's own shutout bid was undermined by another Dayan Viciedo lapse in right field. But one inning later, Viciedo redeemed himself by foiling Ben Zobrist's attempt to stretch a leadoff single into a double, which began a sudden and hilarious turning of tables.
After depriving the Rays of a leadoff man in the top of the seventh, Zobrist allowed Gordon Beckham to reach on his error in the bottom of the inning. Adam Eaton followed with an infield single that Yunel Escobar couldn't field cleanly, and that brought Marcus Semien to the plate for a bunt situation.
Semien's struggled with bunting this year, and this one wasn't textbook either -- kind of like a 60-degree wedge -- but it plopped down and stuck about 30 feet from the plate. Price fielded it, spun and fired well wide of first, and into right field. Beckham scored, and while Wil Myers bobbled it and took his time throwing it in, Eaton scored all the way from first, too.
After relying on the Rays' charity for their first two runs, Jose Abreu took full responsibility for the next two, crushing a Price changeup through the wind and into the left-field seats for a 4-1 lead. Viciedo kept the rally alive with a double, and two batters later, he scored when Yunel Escobar fielded an Alexei Ramirez grounder and bounced the throw into the camera well, the fourth error and the fifth run.
The Sox batted around that inning, and they did it again in the eighth, tacking on four more with a Semien RBI double, an Abreu two-run single, and a run-scoring hit by Ramirez.
That was more than enough for Carroll, who really couldn't have pitched any better in his debut. He allowed just six hits and two walks over 7⅓ innings, striking out three and inducing three double plays. He worked over Evan Longoria something fierce, getting a strikeout and two double plays in three at-bats.
The Sox didn't want him getting a big head about it, so they put a couple runs on his bill. With two outs in the fifth, Dayan Viciedo whiffed on a routine shallow flyball, allowing an unearned run to score all the way from first.
At least Carroll's ERA was still 0.00 -- until the eighth, anyway. Carroll departed to a standing ovation from 22,000 fans -- including healthy contingent of Carroll's family and friends -- after a one-out single. In came Daniel Webb, who issued a walk to his first hitter to push the inherited run into scoring position. Webb rebounded with a flyout, but a two-out single allowed Carroll's runner to cross the plate.
Still, Carroll gave the Sox what they most needed (an efficient start) from a very unlikely source. Those endorsements should start rolling in now.
*The top of the order -- Eaton, Semien and Abreu -- went 7-for-16 with six runs scored and five RBIs.