The White Sox were so lousy today that even their best moments came with strings attached.
For instance, trailing 4-0 in the sixth inning, Melky Cabrera followed a Jose Abreu single by pulling the first ball in the air by a Sox hitter all day. It split the right-center gap and Abreu scored from first easily on the double. But ... Cabrera tried stretching into a triple, and he was cut down by a successful relay.
Likewise, in the eighth inning, Chris Davis was robbed of a homer for the second straight day. This time, it was J.B. Shuck making the leaping grab in left, and Davis could only wave the white towel from the dugout afterward. But ... it still counted as a sacrifice fly.
The Orioles didn't have this problem. They received plenty of breaks and created enough of their own to steer well clear of a sweep.
Perhaps this game would have taken a different track if Conor Gillaspie fielded Nolan Reimold's chopper in the first inning. Carlos Rodon struck out Manny Machado on three pitches to start the game, and Reimold hit the fourth pitch harmlessly to the left side. But Gillaspie booted the short hop, then made matters by throwing wide and into the stands for the double error. Adam Jones drove in Reimold on a slider out of the zone for an unearned run and a 1-0 lead, the Orioles' first of the series. They never came close to trailing in this one.
Rodon's start was kind of a beautiful mess. He struck out seven over five innings, but he also gave up four hits (one homer) and four walks. He threw 102 pitches, but 18 of those were swinging strikes.
The fifth inning was a trip by itself. Rodon walked Machado to start the inning, then let him steal second and third before he could record the first out. Not that it mattered, because Rodon struck out Reimold, Jones and Davis to sneak out of the inning while keeping the deficit at 2-0. He also threw a 99-mph fastball that inning, and required a mound visit from Herm Schneider and Robin Ventura, apparently about a developing blister.
Rodon wasn't so lucky in the sixth inning. Steve Pearce and Jimmy Parades started the inning with singles to show Rodon the door. In came Daniel Webb, who got a pair of infield flies before locking horns with Caleb Joseph in a full count. It extended to a 10th pitch, which was a fastball off the corner that Joseph knocked into the right-center gap to score two and put the game out of reach.
Rodon gave up four runs (three earned), and all scored on pitches outside the strike zone. So between that, the Gillaspie error, and the blister, I don't know if there's a whole lot you can take away from this start.
He certainly showed better than his teammates, who had one more hit (five) than error (four) on the day. Besides Gillaspie's double-error, Dan Jennings bounced a throw to second, and Carlos Sanchez lost control of a grounder that should've been an easy 4-3 double play, both of which occurred during an ugly four-run seventh.
Speaking of the seventh, here's a confusing sequence: After Webb allowed the first two batters to reach, Ventura let him face the lefty Davis, even with Dan Jennings warm. Davis singled to make it a 5-1 game and put runners on the corners. Webb stayed in for the righty Pearce, and he hit a tailor-made double play ball. Or it would've been, if the infield weren't in.
Those two at-bats are incongruous to me. If you're playing for every run, OK. If you're trying to conserve relievers instead of angling for a comeback that doesn't look likely, OK. But to concede the matchup to Davis, then not concede the run to get ouf of the inning quicker, seems like the worst of both worlds. Throw in Gillaspie trying to bunt with two outs -- a problem Cabrera also has -- and those are the types of things that make it easier to implicate the coaching staff along with the players.
Along the same lines, Alexei Ramirez was thrown out trying to steal second, so the White Sox removed two of their eighth baserunners themselves.