Through seven innings, today's game was on the course for a sleepy 2-0 White Sox shutout.
Then Zach Putnam threw a flat, fat splitter to Manny Machado, a few things happened, and while the Sox still ended up with their fourth straight victory, this one was anything but boring.
Machado crushed Putnam's splitter over the White Sox bullpen to tie the game at 2. Of course, it happened right after Jeff Samardzija threw 7⅔ beautiful innings and Robin Ventura lifted him responsibly, but we know nothing is easy this season.
The homer might have taken the air out of U.S. Cellular Field, but it put a charge into the proceedings.
Suddenly, the White Sox offense looked competent. Gordon Beckham led off with a walk, Alexei Ramirez bunted him to second, and when Buck Showalter went to righty-killing Darren O'Day, Ventura went to lefty J.B. Shuck. The Sox prevailed in the matchup war, as Shuck pulled a double down the right-field line to give the Sox a 3-2 lead.
David Robertson took over in the ninth, and after retiring Adam Jones on one pitch, he left a low cutter to Chris Davis on a 1-0 count. Davis looked like he got all of it, but it didn't have a whole lot of backspin, thank goodness. Avisail Garcia was already playing deep, so he made it back to the fence quickly and had plenty of time to align himself along the fence and give it his best shot.
And his best shot ended up saving the game.
Now we know Avi Garcia can do this. pic.twitter.com/kL57v2EJrj— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) July 4, 2015
Let's see it again:
This is how it felt in real-time. pic.twitter.com/xy67dp5JI4— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) July 4, 2015
Robertson, probably having peed a little, applauded Garcia, then made work easier on everybody by striking out Matt Wieters to end the game.
The Sox picked up their fourth straight win, although they're still not inspiring a ton of confidence when it comes to the offense.
Through seven innings, the White Sox had 10 hits (three for extra bases) and walk ... but only two runs. The first inning hinted at problems to come when they needed two singles to score Jose Abreu from second, and sure enough, the Sox went hitless in their next eight opportunities with runners in scoring position. Garcia grounded into a 4-6-3 double play with runners on the corners in the third, and Adam Eaton went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, including one in the sixth after Carlos Sanchez made it all the way to third after a one-out strikeout (Wieters' throw sailed down the right field line).
The Sox did manage to tack on another run in the fifth. Jose Abreu led off with a triple to right center, and Melky Cabrera cashed him in with a sac fly.
That looked like it could be enough for Samardzija, who didn't allow a hit until a two-out single by Ryan Flaherty in the sixth inning. His location was outstanding on all his pitches, resulting in nine strikeouts to just three singles and two walks.
The Orioles did manage to touch him the third time through the order. Jimmy Paredes led off the seventh with a single, and moved to second on a single by Davis for Baltimore's first runner in scoring position. Samardzija came back by striking out Wieters on a changeup so nasty that Wieters threw the bat toward the mound in a vain attempt to extend to the pitch.
Samardzija did make it harder on himself by spiking a 1-2 splitter to Chris Parmalee, which allowed both runners to move up 90 feet. But he corrected his release point and fanned Parmalee to end the threat. His day ended after Flaherty drew a seven-pitch walk to extend the eighth inning, and that ended up being the only run on Samardzija's tab thanks to the homer allowed by Putnam.
*Besides Garcia's catch, Sanchez took a single away from Jones with a backhand stab and throw on the other side of second.
*Samardzija lost his perfect game bid on the very first batter, but the walk to Machado was erased by a nice 5-4-3 started by Conor Gillaspie.