With White Sox hitters griping about the strike zone and a bloop single driving in Cleveland's first run, this had the makings of a very frustrating Memorial Day.
Then one swing on a hanger by Dayan Viciedo gave the afternoon a holiday feeling. Jose Quintana outpitched Tomlin, the White Sox outdefended the Tribe, and they shook off a disappointing end to the Yankees series in fine fashion.
The Sox trailed 1-0 in the third when Marcus Semien hit a firm bouncer to third. Lonnie Chisenhall couldn't figure out which hop to play, and backing up proved to be the wrong choice. It glanced off his glove, and Semien reached on an error to extend the inning. Conor Gillaspie followed with a single to right, and up came Viciedo.
He took two strikes, watched one in the dirt, and then fouled off a hittable cutter up in the zone. He didn't have much time to lament the wasted opportunity, because one pitch later, Tomlin left a curve floating belly-high. Viciedo turned, burned, and crushed it over the wall in left, about 20 rows deep, giving the Sox a 3-1 lead.
The game held there until the sixth, when a leadoff walk by Quintana turned into a run on Ryan Raburn's RBI single to right. But Moises Sierra showed off his laser rocket arm by gunning down Raburn at second. It didn't look like Alexei Ramirez placed the tag in time, but the initial ruling was an out, and the replay held up somehow.
By the time the Indians could rally again, the White Sox offense found a way to distance itself, and Gillaspie led the way. His leadoff double in the sixth turned into a two-run inning, as Alexei Ramirez and Alejandro De Aza delivered a pair of RBI singles to extend the lead to 5-2. One inning later, Gillaspie drove in Semien with a laced double to left-center, his third two-bagger and fourth hit of the game.
That provided a little bit of extra comfort when the Indians loaded the bases against Zach Putnam, but Scott Downs struck out David Murphy with a questionable 1-2 sinker (looked low), and got through the ninth to seal the deal. While he pitched with a four-run lead, entering the game with the tying run at the plate allowed him to record the save.
That low strike balanced out a lopsided strike zone early in the game. Ron Kulpa gave the righty Tomlin a generous corner on his arm side, and Quintana's left-handedness couldn't work the corner the same way. This made the backdoor breaking balls and cutter unhittable for lefties. A freeze frame at the end of the fourth inning:
Adam Dunn expressed discontent with a called strike three, and Alejandro De Aza would've been thrown out after arguing a third strike if Tyler Flowers didn't intervene. Flowers might've paid the price for De Aza's protestations, as Kulpa ejected Flowers immediately after a strike three when Flowers discarded the bat in disgust. Flowers was in Kulpa's face, as angry as you'll see him. Given what he'd seen behind the plate, his frustration was understandable. The first White Sox player ejection follows the first manager ejection of the year on Sunday.
Still, that bat toss wasn't even Flowers' most notable throw of the game. How about this catch in the first row?
*Along with the throw from right field, Sierra made a fine diving catch on Yan Gomes' sinking liner.
*Semien committed an error at second when he fumbled the exchange on a roller, but he made two rangy plays to his right to atone for it.