In a game featuring two balks and two ejections, a lot of people at U.S. Cellular Field were on edge tonight.
Obviously that means that David Robertson was obligated to load the bases with one out and a one-run lead in the ninth inning in order to see this thing all the way through.
He fulfilled both of his duties then, escalating the tension to 11 before striking out Edwin Encarnacion and jamming Michael Saunders into a game-ending popout.
As a result, Todd Frazier gets to go home the hero, coming through with a big two-out single in the seventh inning. He recorded the game-winning RBI with his first two-hit game in a month and a day.
The ninth inning took just about as long as a scoreless half-inning can. First, Darwin Barney tried to reach on a foul tip with one out, although he spoiled it by taking forever to take off. He gave it a shot when the ball caromed toward the third-base dugout, and he was correct to, as no call was made and neither Alex Avila nor Robertson had any chance of making the play. Robin Ventura asked for Gabe Morales to get help, and after an umpire conference, the call was reversed. Out came John Gibbons to argue the call, and he was promptly ejected.
If Gibbons was trying to ice Robertson by dragging out his protest, it might’ve worked. Robertson walked Barney, gave up a single to Ezequiel Carrera, then an infield base hit to Josh Donaldson. Tyler Saladino took the shot off his body, and his diving attempt to tag Barney at third was ruled too late. A review showed that he might’ve tagged Barney in time, but it wasn’t conclusive.
That loaded the bases for Encarnacion, and he and Robertson conspired to load the count before he swung through a cutter for strike three. Saunders wasn’t much for suspense, popping out on the first pitch.
So the Sox are back to .500, and they’re hoping Frazier is back on track. He played first for Jose Abreu, who is still sore from the HBP he took to the upper leg in Boston, and the change of scenery did him good. He collected two hits for the first time since May 23, and the second was huge -- not just because he drove in the decisive run, but because he bailed out Tim Anderson.
Anderson’s baserunning was close to being the story of this game. First, for better. His speed may have caused Donaldson to not get low enough on his bouncer toward third base, and the Gold Glover ended up whiffing on it for a "double." Then Anderson took third on Eaton’s routine flyout to left, as Ryan Goins didn’t get in good throwing position.
Then Melky Cabrera hit a high chopper to first, so high that Encarnacion had to make a leaping, tumbling play to corral it. Anderson never broke for home, and Cabrera looked a little miffed after returning to the dugout following the 3-unassisted. Fortunately, Frazier found a 1-1 Jesse Chavez fastball to his liking and smoked it through the left side for the go-ahead run.
Nate Jones ended up picking up the win for pitching a scoreless seventh, and Zach Duke followed with a zero in the eighth. The White Sox bullpen contributed 3⅓ scoreless innings overall in relief of Carlos Rodon, whose night ended on a frustrating note.
Rodon took the mound in the sixth looking like he had the stuff to power through it, but he plunked Michael Saunders to start the inning. He struck out Russell Martin, but during his battle with Troy Tulowitzki, Angel Hernandez called a balk on Rodon for not coming to a set, even though it looked like there was a brief moment of hesitation. Don Cooper was ejected for protesting it.
That put Saunders in scoring position, and he tagged up on a flyout to center for the second out. Kevin Pillar then hit a grounder to the right side, and while Frazier made a diving stop, Pillar was able to beat the toss to the base, or at least Rodon’s efforts to find it after making the throw.
The run erased the Sox’ first lead of the game, which Melky Cabrera provided with a solo shot off Aaron Sanchez. He went 3-for-4 against his former team, and the one out he made should’ve been a productive one.
*Brett Lawrie had three hits against his former team as well.
*Frazier’s single was the Sox’ lone hit in 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position. He also swiped second, giving him more steals on the season (six) than doubles (five).
*Saunders and Pillar teamed up for the Jays’ first run in the second inning, with Saunders doubling and coming around on a bloop single.