Against the Seattle Mariners on August 28th, J.B. Shuck had the opportunity to be the hero for Chicago. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, down 2-0 with only one out, Shuck only could muster a weak ground ball to start a 5-2-3 double play ending the threat.
Six days later, he pulled through.
Shuck's two-run triple in the seventh gave Chicago the lead for good in a 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins. Alexei Ramirez started the rally with a leadoff single against Twins reliever Casey Fein, who then walked Geovany Soto, the next batter. With Carlos Sanchez coming to bat, the preferred call would be to swing away, but Sanchez instead laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Ramirez and Soto up 90 feet. Pinch-hitting for Tyler Saladino, Shuck smoked an 89-mph slider to the left-field gap for his second triple of 2015. He scored one batter later, as Adam Eaton hit a sacrifice fly to left field putting the White Sox ahead for good.
Before the seventh inning, this ballgame was a different story.
Chicago starting the scoring in the first inning thanks to a leadoff single by Eaton and a ground-rule double by Jose Abreu. Eaton scored on a soft grounder by Avisail Garcia, but that is all Chicago could push across home plate despite having runners in scoring position with no outs. To be fair, that's more offense than the White Sox generally create against Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson. Prior to today's game, the White Sox hitting splits against Gibson were .120/.151/.217 and only scored one run against him over 16 innings.
For the White Sox, it was Jeff Samardzija on the mound, who was horrible in the month of August. Today was about getting him back to July form, and it appeared was ready for a bounce-back performance heading to the third inning.
After striking out Trevor Plouffe for the second out, Samardzija had a tough battle against Kennys Vargas. Several close calls in the strike zone did not go Samardzija's way, and ultimately he walked Vargas to load the bases for Eddie Rosario. As Vargas jogged down to first base, White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper went for a mound visit as these were the moments that Samardzija tended to implode.
Sure enough, on a 1-0 fastball grooved down the middle of the plate, Rosairo crushed it for his first career grand slam, giving Minnesota the 4-1 lead.
To his credit, Samardzija held the Twins to just those four runs. While the final line isn't pretty (6⅓ IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO), he kept the Twins at bat and gave the offense a chance to catch up. Which, how 2015 has played out, has pretty much a hope and a prayer of happening.
Chicago chipped one run off the deficit in the fourth when Adam LaRoche's "Kansas City Special" in left field started the two-out rally. Gibson threw a wild pitch to Alexei Ramirez that that moved LaRoche to second, and then Ramirez capitalized with a single to center to score LaRoche.
In the sixth inning, Abreu hit his second double of the day (and his 30th of 2015) to lead it off. Gibson threw another wild pitch in the at-bat against Garcia which moved Abreu to third and again, the Sox took advantage of the pitching miscue as Garcia hit a sacrifice fly to left, making it 4-3. Gibson's stat line looks better than Samardzija's (6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO) but those two wild pitches really cut into his edge.
After Shuck's heroics, the Twins put together a rally in the bottom of the seventh. Samardzija left the game after Eduardo Escobar singled to right field. Dan Jennings was brought in to face Joe Mauer, but couldn't win the lefty-lefty battle as Mauer singled to center. Robin Ventura pulled Jennings in favor of Nate Jones, who gave up a towering blast to Miguel Sano that tied the game on Monday. Today the reverse happened, as Jones struck out Trevor Plouffe and Dannys Vargas, ending the threat.
David Robertson tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 28th save and improving Chicago's record against Minnesota to 5-11 in 2015.
- Jeff Samardzija's first win since July 28th against Boston.
- Samardzija has given up 24 home run's in 2015. His career high is 25 in 2013 and with 5 or 6 more starts left this season, good bet he's going to break that mark.
- Adam Eaton is hitting .315/.414/.452 in the second half of 2015.