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Marlins 5, White Sox 4 : Wild game appropriately ends in bewilderment

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I'm starting to think that the blocked plate rule only applies when the White Sox are on defense

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
For a game that could have been a casual walk in the pitcher duel park, the final 2016 showdown between the Chicago White Sox and Miami Marlins, was far from a simple Sunday affair.

The White Sox came hot out of the gates against a pitcher who has been lights-out dealing since the All-Star break.
Adam Eaton took Tom Koehler deep on the first pitch of the game - a right field foul pole home run. Tyler Saladino didn't have the same luck with the two pitches he saw, but Melky Cabrera (one-for-nine in the first two games of the series) put a sweet swing on a 2-0 pitch, and soared a double into the gap in right-center. Jose Abreu managed to get his bat on an outside pitch and dropped the ball into right field, which brought home Melky and gave the Sox a 2-0 lead to start the game.

Chris Sale started his workday with a strikeout of Ichiro Suzuki, then got some big help from the defense. Martin Prado hit a bloop to shallow right, which Saladino caught over his shoulder. Christian Yelich hit a sharp liner down the first base line, and Abreu beautifully snagged it just over the foul line past first base, and tossed it to Sale to end the inning.

After a silent Sox offense in the top of two, Marcell Ozuna led off the Marlins second inning with a double to the left field warning track. Chris Johnson followed with a single, putting fish at the corners with no out. From there, Sale got a lil nasty. He struck out Robert Andino with a relaxed inside slider, then put away Jeff Mathis with a fastball. Neither batter made it past ball one in eleven total pitches. Saladino ended the Marlins threat by tracking down another over-the-shoulder ball hit to shallow right field.

Both pitchers found respective grooves and rolled through the third and fourth innings. Koehler made quick work of the Sox in the top half of the fifth, but in the bottom of the inning, Sale hit some bumps, allowing three consecutive singles to Andino, Mathis and Adeiny Hechavarria. Koehler came to bat with the bases loaded, and hit a hard liner up the middle which ricocheted off of Sale's ankle, high over the head of Anderson at short. By the time the ball was under control, two runs had crossed the plate.

The situation worsened when Ichiro predictably laid down a bunt. He wasn't able to leg it out for a single, but newly-to-third Hechavarria took advantage of the abandoned plate, and easily headed home for the go-ahead run. A winded Koehler was stranded at second, which he probably appreciated after his exhausting (and successful) efforts to give himself run support.

Koehler returned to the mound and quickly gave up a single to Saladino - his first hit of the game. Melky lined out to center, and Abreu came to the plate to battle outside pitches. Meanwhile, Saladino created quite the distraction on the basepaths, drawing three pick-off attempts from Koehler. He finally stole second with Abreu at bat -- which proved rather useful when Abreu sliced a ball down the left field line. Marlins' third baseman Prado was unable to field the ball, which was fair over the bag before rolling into foul territory, and allowed Saladino to easily score from second to tie the game at three.

Mike Dunn replaced Koehler in the seventh, but the Sox offense didn't muster much against a fresh arm.
Sale continued working in the bottom half, pushing a hundred pitches as he took the mound. A challenged call stayed in favor of the Marlins, and Hechavarria was safely into first to start the inning.

One sacrifice bunt later, another replay review occurred when Ichiro suggested he was hit (on the hand) by what shoulda/woulda been strike three/out two. But the crew chief awarded Ichiro first base, and Sale pressed on beyond the hundred-pitch mark, and then gave up a well-hit single to right that scored Hechavarria from second. That was the end of the rope for Sale, who departed at 110 pitches (75 strikes) in 6.2 innings, five earned runs on eight hits, with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Jacob Turner replaced Sale, and his first opponent, Ozuna, singled on an infield hit, fielded by Tim Anderson. Timmy released it spinning toward first, but Abreu was unable to get control of the one-hopper. He did, however, quickly fire the ball to third base, where Frazier tagged Prado pushing it on his way to third. The inning ended there, but not before Ichiro had crossed home plate to give the Marlins the 5-3 lead -- a runner that probably should not have been on base at all.

In the top of the ninth, Anderson launched the sixth pitch from Fernando Rodney deep to the Sox bullpen in left field, shortening the Marlins lead to one. Omar Narvaez singled to left before Justin Morneau, pinch-hitting in the pitcher's slot, was gotten good on a high fastball from Rodney.

But Eaton kept the Sox alive, roping one to right field, thereby moving the pinch-running Carlos Sanchez to second base. Saladino's last stand was a well-hit single to Yelich in left. But the tying run in Sanchez was called out at home plate, despite Marlins' catcher Mathis blocking the plate in advance of receiving the throw from Yelich. After a quick crew review, the game ended there, with the Marlins avoiding the sweep by one crazy run. I think the umps just wanted to go home.

Sox have an off day tomorrow to think about what they've done, and resume play in Cleveland on Tuesday behind the long-qursed Jose Quintana.