The Mariners designated former closer Fernando Rodney for assignment after tonight's game, but they weren't any better off avoiding him beforehand. Carson Smith blew a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning, and Danny Farquhar lost it in the 10th as the White Sox pulled off one of their classic victories in Seattle.
Robin Ventura, whose management of this game was suspect through eight innings, saw all of his moves pay off over the last two. Avisail Garcia led off the ninth inning with a single, and J.B. Shuck, pinch-hitting for Trayce Thompson, drew a walk. Alexei Ramirez then shot a single through the middle to score Garcia to make it a 3-2 game.
Carlos Sanchez then bunted both runners over, and up came Adam LaRoche to pinch-hit for Tyler Flowers. That move worked well enough -- he hit a bouncer to first base, but since the corners weren't pinched in, Logan Morrison didn't have time to get Shuck at home, and instead had to settle for stepping on first. Adam Eaton had a chance to put the ox ahead, but he flied out to right to leave the game tied.
Nate Jones kept it that way, pitching around a leadoff walk and a sac bunt by striking out both Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz. He picked up the win, and David Robertson the save with a 1-2-3 10th, courtesy of a crooked number by the Sox offense in between.
Farquhar started that inning by walking Tyler Saladino, who advanced to third on Jose Abreu's double to right center (the play at second was a close one). Lloyd McClendon then called for the bases-loading intentional walk to Melky Cabrera, which backfired when Farquhar unintentionally walked Garcia on four pitches to bring home the go-ahead run.
A pitching change to Edgar Olmos didn't stop the bleeding, even after he started by getting a forceout at home on a Shuc bouncer. A passed ball by Mike Zunino scored the second run, an error by Robinson Cano on a Ramirez chopper reloaded the bases, and Sanchez beat out a potential 6-4-3 ball for the third run. Robinson only needed one, cutting through Seattle's 4-5-6 with just 12 pitches.
Up until the ninth, it had the makings of a quiet 2015 White Sox loss. Trayce Thompson put the Sox ahead with a laser homer to left in the second, but the Sox couldn't get anything else off Vidal Nuno. Meanwhile, Carlos Rodon gave way during a three-run sixth, as Nelson Cruz, Cano and Franklin Gutierrez jumped on him for a double, Sanchez "error" and a two-run double to take the lead. They added one more on a double play, and that looked like plenty.
The Sox somehow avoided a bigger deficit, even though Ventura managed pretty fast and loose. He let Rodon face Cruz for a fourth time with two outs and a runner on first (Cruz bounced out to second). Then he called for Dan Jennings with no backup in the bullpen for the eighth, which seemed perilous after Cano and Gutierrrez led off with singles. Then McClenson did Ventura a favor by using Austin Jackson to bunt (he popped out), and Jennings retired lefties Morrison and Brad Miller to get out unscathed.
It was far from a masterpiece, but it was the kind of victory that distinguishes the Sox from the bottom tier, and makes Mariners fans loathe visitors from Chicago.
*Sanchez's error was a tough charging play, but it meant that two of Rodon's three runs were unearned.
*It was an uneven performance for Rodon (eight strikeouts over seven innings, but four walks), but after a couple of gems against the Angels, it's a good-looking letdown.
*Eaton drew boos for the second half of the game after drawing an unclear HBP off his hand in the fifth. The replays at Safeco Field didn't show anything that could overturn it, but it didn't look like it could do enough damage to warrant Eaton's reaction.
*Before Saladino drew the key walk, he went 0-for-4 with five stranded in the second spot. He still doesn't belong there.
*Thompson continues to be an asset against lefties (2-for-3 with a homer), and Flowers reached base all three times (a single and two walks).