Charmed life turned hard knock for the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, coughing up a five-run lead and snatching defeat from victory in an 8-7, walk-off loss at the hands of fellow rebuilders, the Cincinnati Reds.
José Ruiz took the loss, taking over in the ninth with a 7-5 lead and able to retire just one Red in a three-hit, three-run outing. Cliff Pennington led off the inning with a single, and Cincy knotted the score 7-7 on a home run to left by Brandon Dixon. Alex Blandino then singled, and after Ruiz was extended the dignity of retiring one batter (Shed Long), he was pulled from the game. Brian Clark entered with the winning run on third, and one out.
Clark punched out Darnell Sweeney, but with two down, Chadwick Tromp singled to left for the game-winner.
Luck for the White Sox pitchers, who had been playing hopscotch through a minefield all game, finally had run out.
Reynaldo Lopez played fast and loose through a two-inning display of bravura. He escaped a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the first with only a sacrifice fly’s worth of damage, a rather extreme and immediate example of using spring training to practice pitching out of the stretch. By his second inning, Lopez realized it would not be wise to have his first, two-inning spring outing be interrupted by a hook, and dismissed Cincy more directly. Final line: two innings, one earned run, one hit, two walks, two Ks.
Next up was Dane Dunning, who sliced through the Reds like a Dane Ax: two innings, two hits and a walk.
The third leg of the Pale Hose’s talented starting trio, Alec Hansen, came on in the fifth. On the plus side, Hansen whiffed überhitter Joey Votto. On the minus, his allotted pitches for the day ran out before he could get through two frames, with a treys-wild final line of three earned runs, three hits and three Ks in 1 2⁄3 innings. However, Hansen’s two runs in the fifth inning came home when Nicky Delmonico and Leury Garcia Alphonse-and-Gastoned Devin Morasco’s fly ball for a two-run, ground-rule double.
All told, give Hansen a mulligan on a pitching line that, sans defensive skittishness, seemed pretty swell.
Offensively, the White Sox broke the game open in the fourth inning, beginning with Jose Rondón tripling in Yolmer Sanchez (Rondón’s second triple in six spring games). Omar Navarez then tapped in Rondón with a safety. After a Garcia walk and Tim Anderson whiff, Delmonico plated two more with a double to center.
The offensive juggernaut — Pale Hose batsmen are now hitting at a .298 clip, fourth-best in baseball — racked up double-figure hits once more, securing 12. Garcia and Delmonico led the way with two hits apiece.
The White Sox attempt to get another winning streak rolling on Friday, taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers at a sold-out Camelback Ranch. Miguel Gonzalez gets his first start of the spring for the Sox.