This ugly marathon of a game tested a couple of Hawk Harrelson truisms, and if you're generous, he batted .500 on the day.
The Houston Astros violated Hawk Harrelson's First Rule of Baseball ("catch the baseball"), committing three errors and making more mistakes than that. The White Sox played error-free ball, but it didn't benefit them.
However, if you think baseball is a Battle of the Bullpens, then that's where the Astros maintained an edge. Daniel Webb's disastrous four-double, four-run seventh put the game out of reach after the Sox scrambled to tie the game the inning before. The Houston bullpen answered by retiring 10 of the last 11 to avoid the sweep.
So, bullpens, right?
Not really, because the White Sox tied the game off the Astros' bullpen during their three-run sixth. Jose Veras inherited a runner on first and one out, and promptly gave up an RBI double and an RBI single. Jose Altuve then let Dayan Viciedo's hard grounder roll between the wickets to tie the game. The White Sox bullpen cracked for four runs, but the Astros' pen allowed three itself.
Which brings us to the starters. John Danks, who had worked so hard to lower his ERA below 4.00, rocketed back over that line by allowing seven runs on 12 hits -- including a pair of homers -- for his worst start since the last time he faced Houston.
John Danks this season: 2 GS vs #Astros: 14.00 ERA, 22 H, 14 ER in 9.0 IP, 5 HR 10 GS in between: 2.69 ERA, 61 H, 20 ER in 67.0 IP, 6 HR— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 20, 2014
Jarred Cosart didn't pitch so well himself, but he avoided the kind of big hits that Danks surrendered. He allowed seven singles and four walks leading to four runs, but here's how those four runs scored:
- Adam Dunn groundout
- Jon Singleton error (two runs)
- Alejandro De Aza groundout
The Sox didn't score on a hit until the sixth, when Alexei Ramirez lined a double into the left-field corner to score Adrian Nieto. Jose Abreu followed with an RBI single, but the Altuve error meant that five of the seven runs came on moral victories for the pitcher.
Houston's porous defense allowed Danks to wriggle out of a loss, which is why it feels like a "bad bullpen game." Instead, that ignominy went to Webb, who suffered first from poor execution (two misses, two doubles), and then from bad luck (shank double and bloop double) during his four-run seventh. He didn't deserve to wear it to the extent that he did, but he didn't pitch well.
At least Taylor Thompson can take a strong debut home. He entered the game in relief of Danks with one out in the fifth, and although he gave up a bloop single to score an inherited run, he ended the inning with a double play, then proceeded to pitch a scoreless fifth, which included his first two strikeouts.
*Adam Eaton had a nice game at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two walks and a stolen base. He did have a couple of slow reads in the outfield -- his makeup speed allowed him to catch a potential extra-base hit over his head in right center, but he couldn't catch the final blooper Webb allowed in the seventh because his first step in was quite delayed.
*Ramirez made a great ranging play to his left to take a single away from Carlos Corporan, and Gordon Beckham turned two under duress in the first. The Sox really did outglove the Astros, but to no avail.