The White Sox ended their seven-game losing streak in an improbable fashion, with Hector Noesi outpitching Corey Kluber.
One could argue that Noesi didn't have to pitch to Jose Abreu with runners in scoring position, and that made the difference. Then again, Kluber didn't have to pitch to Abreu with runners in scoring position, either.
Kluber didn't want to throw Abreu a strike either time. Hell, he definitely didn't throw him a strike the second time. It just didn't matter, because Abreu sent both sliders back from whence they came. Throw in a run with the two RBI singles, and Abreu factored into all the scoring during his 3-for-4 night. A strong seven innings by Noesi and effective-enough work by Javy Guerra and Zach Putnam allowed Abreu's heroics to hold up.
Noesi set the pace in the pitchers' duel after the third inning, but a Lonnie Chisenhall solo shot just over the fence in right tied the game at 2 in the seventh.
Kluber came out to start the bottom of the seventh on 103 pitches, and his 104th went into right field on a Carlos Sanchez single. Adam Eaton followed with a bad-break ground-rule double that would've scored Sanchez had it not hopped over the fence. The Sox still had three shots to bring in the go-ahead run, but Alexei Ramirez faltered with a 5-2 fielder's choice that resulted in an out at home, and withstood a Rule 7.13 challenge despite looking awfully similar to the Tyler Flowers play.
Up came Abreu, and since Kluber struck him out in the previous at-bat with bad sliders out of the zone, he tried the same strategy. Kluber started Abreu with six straight sliders, all out of the zone, and he had a full count to show for it. Kluber then tried a seventh low-and-away slider, but it just wasn't as low-and-away as the others. While it still would've been ball four, it probably looked like a relative strike to Abreu, and he bounced it back through the middle to bring in the go-ahead run.
Terry Francona went to a lefty, Robin Ventura went to Paul Konerko, and it resulted in another 5-2 putout at home to keep the score 3-2, but Guerra pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and got the first two outs of the ninth. He left two on for Putnam after a leadoff single and a two-out HBP, but Putnam got Chris Dickerson to fly out to left to end the game.
The Eaton-Abreu combination also paid off in the third. After Roberto Perez and Michael Bourn strung together two-out hits off Noesi for the game's first run, Eaton started a response rally with a one-out triple. Ramirez smashed a liner to first for the second out, and Abreu came up in an obvious pitch-around situation.
Kluber missed with two fastballs, but he made a good pitch on a third heater to get back in the count. Kluber remained careful, switching to the slider for ball three. He then tried another slider, but this one hung over the middle of the plate, and Abreu rifled it to center to tie the game. After flashing the bat, Abreu then showed off his wheels by scoring from first on Adam Dunn's crushed double to center on another mistake pitch (a low fastball after success with high heat earlier in the count).
The Sox definitely owned the time of possession battle, because Noesi pounded the strike zone with outstanding results over his seven innings. He threw 67 of his 99 pitches for strikes, allowing just six hits and a walk while striking out five. Kluber definitely had to work harder, but he eventually found his slider and retired 10 of 11 after that ugly sequence in the third.
He just couldn't get past Abreu when he chose to. And with the Indians dropping a Kluber-Noesi matchup while Seattle and Detroit both lost, they might be wishing they chose differently.