If it seems like the game finds the White Sox' weaker hitters more often than usual this year, it's probably the lack of extra-base hits. When stringing together multiple good at-bats only results in the bases loaded, the delay is eventually going to thrust a lesser player into the spotlight.
Today, it was Carlos Sanchez. The Sox built one of their tedious threats in the 10th inning off Joba Chamberlain. Melky Cabrera walked with one out, and Avisail Garcia was clipped by a pitch. An Alexei Ramirez strikeout put it in pinch-hitting J.B. Shuck's hands, and Shuck's infield single to short passed the buck to Sanchez.
Sanchez entered the game hitting .159/.207/.204, but with one walk-off hit to his name, he at least proved that he doesn't completely cave in these situations.
And now he has two such hits. Chamberlain threw a 1-2 slider, and Sanchez roped a liner into right field that rolled all the way to the wall for a bases-clearing triple and an 8-5 lead.
It turned out to be an even bigger hit than it looked, because David Robertson needed all three of those runs. He struck out J.D. Martinez to start the 10th,and just like the Sox, the Tigers slowly mounted a response. Andrew Romine singled, Anthony Gose walked and Jose Iglesias singled to bring the winning run to the plate in the form of Bryan Holiday.
Holiday didn't score himself, but he did knock in two with a single through the left side, cutting the Sox lead to 8-7. Robertson bounced back to strike out Ian Kinsler, but the Tigers succeeded in getting Miguel Cabrera to the plate, which looked highly unlikely at the start of the frame.
And Robin Ventura called for the intentional walk to load the bases.
You don't see that too often -- walking an intentional hitter in the 10th inning so that the winning run moves into scoring position. By choice, Robertson now had the tying run 90 feet away, and the game was over if Holiday came around.
But Ventura wanted to see Robertson go after Josh Wilson, who had pinch-run for Victor Martinez in the ninth. Robertosn rose to the challenge. He threw four cutters to Wilson, and he swung through three of them to bring this game to a merciful end.
Bullet point recap:
*Sanchez also had a great game in the field, starting two double plays, turning another, and throwing a runner out at home on a contact play.
*Gordon Beckham started at short for Alexei Ramirez, and he slickly started the double play that Sanchez turned, picking a one-hop rocket on his backhand side.
*Adam Eaton led off the game with a solo shot on the second pitch.
*Avisail Garcia and Adam LaRoche couldn't get the ball out of the park, but they each hit big doubles to center over the head of Rajai Davis, whose routes weren't sparkling. LaRoche's was a two-run, two-out double on a 3-0 pitch.
*Tyler Flowers also added an RBI single in the second inning to help the Sox retake the lead.
*Carlos Rodon could've been worse: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K on 104 pitches, and he allowed a pair of homers, too. Ian Kinsler took him deep in the first inning, and J.D. Martinez did so in the fifth. He forced the Sox offense to keep tacking on runs, but...
*Alfredo Simon's own struggles continued. After holding the Sox to one run over eight innings his last time out, the Sox stung him for five over 6⅓ this time. His ERA has risen a full run over his last two outings (2.58 on June 14 to 3.57 today).