For the late-night Twitter crowd, Kevin Goldstein (formerly of Baseball Prospectus, now with the Astros) coined the hashtag "#weirdbaseball" for any game that runs past midnight in its time zone. They're usually (but not always) extra-innings affairs, where position players or starters could pitch in relief, or other crazy gambles suddenly look appealing. Ice cream is involved.
Based on the events of a five-run ninth inning, "weird baseball" may be the White Sox' default setting. Either that, or:
This is what happens when you get the #WhiteSox offense wet after midnight— Ken (@TCBullfrog) July 2, 2015
Three rain delays over the course of the first two innings pushed this game into the next day. They wouldn't have minded a fourth after Melky Cabrera hit a solo shot in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning, but Jose Quintana went six strong innings, and four relievers combined to post zeroes over the last four innings to take both games in St. Louis, against all odds.
Surprisingly, David Robertson was not one of those relievers. He wasn't necessary after the Cardinals turned into the White Sox.
It's not like the White Sox were perfect, but their flaws weren't fatal. Adam Eaton turned a one-out single into a triple when he was caught in between diving and pulling up, and literally did the in-between thing (he slipped). Quintana pitched around it. Avisail Garcia was picked off shortly after the clock struck 12. That runner didn't matter. Eaton and Cabrera collided in left center, but Eaton held on.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, couldn't recover from their mistakes.
The Sox started the ninth by scoring on their volition. Alexei Ramirez greeted Seth Maness with a single to center, and Tyler Flowers followed with his third homer in as many games to give his pitchers a rare multi-run lead. Carlos Sanchez kept it going with a double over first base, and Adam LaRoche came off the bench to force a pitching change to LOOGY Randy Choate.
Choate faced two batters. He plunked both of them to load the bases.
In came Marcus Hatley for his MLB debut, and nothing says "welcome to the big leagues" like facing Jose Abreu with the bases loaded. Abreu shot a single through the left side to make it a 5-1 game.
Then the defense behind Hatley turned decidedly minor-league. Melky Cabrera hit a grounder right at Kolten Wong, but he bobbled the ball and could only get the out at first, so LaRoche scored. Then Avisail Garcia hit a groundout to short. Eaton held his ground, but Abreu took off for third.
Classic TOOTBLAN, right? Not so much, because the throw to third base to get Eaton glanced off Matt Carpenter's glove and into left field, allowing Eaton to score. Gordon Beckham struck out for the second time in as many at-bats to close the explosion/implosion, and Scott Carroll pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the sweep.
Quintana came away with a rare win, and a rare win throwing fewer than 100 pitches. He was pinch-hit for after finishing the sixth with 94. He looked strong, especially under the circumstances. After allowed a first-inning run -- possibly due to said inning interrupted by the second rain delay -- he shut down St. Louis' offense afterward, allowing just six hits while striking out eight without issuing a walk.
The question was whether run support would show up against John Lackey before the game became official.
Flowers, who grounded into a double play to kill a second-inning rally, started one in the fifth with a single. He moved to second on Sanchez's groundout (with his massive frame blocking a good throw to second). After Quintana struck out, Eaton came through with a single to center to tie the game.
One inning later, Cabrera stayed on a Lackey slider below the zone and golfed it into the bullpen beyond the right field wall for his third homer of the year. It's so much better when he doesn't bunt.