There just aren’t many normal wins for the Chicago White Sox this season.
After a stirring rally from four runs, then five runs, down, only to lose the tie and knot the game back up in the ninth, Ricky’s Boys stitched together a lunatic fringe of a 12th inning to win, 12-8.
The White Sox put themselves in a position to put up a crooked number in extras thusly: Tim Anderson led off and got on via Scooter Gennett error and stole second. Matt Davidson walked, and hometown hero Adam Engel’s sacrifice bunt turned into an error, loading the bases, as Engel snapped the ball out of Gennett’s glove covering first (somehow, that error was charged on the throw, to third sacker Eugenio Suarez).
After an Omar Narváez line out to first, Yoán Moncada broke the dam with a sharp triple to the right field corner:
Yolmer Sánchez chased that three-bagger with one of his own, his league-leading ninth, on a ball that right fielder Brandon Dixon pulled back into the field of play from over the wall.
As you might imagine in a game filled with comebacks, things didn’t start out nearly so swimmingly for the Sox.
We got another bitter dose of bad Lucas Giolito tonight, as the Cincinnati Reds jumped out to a 4-0 lead after four batters, on a pair of two-run home runs. The flagging righty lasted five innings, coughing up eight hits and three walks, leading to seven earned runs and a game score of ... 12. Giolito’s ERA now stands at 6.93.
Down 4-0 in an eyelash, this bitter and sardonic tweet from the home office inadvertently told the tale of the rest of the game:
Ah, the old 4-0 first inning gut-punch on Independence Day Eve.— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) July 3, 2018
Good test of the White Sox's RBDQ and TWTW factors, I guess.
It took until the sixth inning, down 7-2, before the White Sox started to pile on the RBDQ and TWTW points, but pile them on Chicago did.
Avisaíl García led off by taking a 2-0 slider into the upper deck, trimming the Cincy lead to 7-3. Daniel Palka, who had already halved a Reds lead earlier in the game with a two-run shot, chased Avi’s clout with another of his own, cutting the lead to 7-4.
A Davidson double and Engel ground out shaved the lead down to 7-6 by the end of the sixth.
The White Sox dogged Cincinnati for a tying run in the eighth, when pinch-hitter Leury García golfed a two-strike fastball right off his knee, for an RBI single to center, knotting the game.
Unfortunately, if you are reading closely, you recognize that the game was then in the eighth inning. In the previous three contests, the White Sox had allowed 14 runs in stanza ocho.
Jace Fry took the hill to face down Chicago’s eighth inning demons, and faltered due to some tough breaks, and bad luck of his own making.
Speedster Billy Hamilton led off, and dinked a single to right to cause immediate panic. Reds skipper Jim Riggleman elected to do the White Sox a favor by bunting Hamilton over to second — a guy who can snatch your pants off while you’re reaching down to button them, and you sac him over?
Anyway, with Hamilton dancing off of second and one out, the White Sox had him picked off.
Or, rather, Tim Anderson had Hamilton picked off:
But, because Fry elected not to glance back at second base, the second out of the inning turned into a steal of third base. TA was much displeased:
But then, it was Anderson’s turn to wear the goat horns.
On an admittedly difficult play, Gennett grounded sharply to Anderson, drawn in to protect against any easy runs. Anderson did the smart thing by fielding the ball cleanly and freezing Hamilton — but then failed to run at him (Sánchez was near enough at third to force a rundown) and, worse, double-clutched on his throw to first, in an apparent desire to smoke a 100 mph assist on the out and make it easier to retire Hamilton at home for a double play.
With Hamilton borderline hotdogging at third, leaning hard toward the plate, there was no question he was heading home, sprinting into an out or not. But by the time Davidson could fire the ball home to Kevan Smith, Hamilton snuck around him with a savvy hand swipe of the plate; at best, the play was a tie. After review, Cincinnati led, 8-7.
What should have been a quick top of the ninth, and yet another demoralizing loss, was staved off by Avisaíl, who with one out hit his second upper-deck shot of the game, sending the game to extras.
The easy heroes of 12-run and 15-hit attack came on offense, of course: Moncada and Avisaíl with three hits apiece, Palka, Anderson and Smith with pairs of hits to boot.
But the oft-maligned White Sox bullpen has to get an award as well: seven innings, two hits, one run, two walks and 12 strikeouts spread out among Xavier Cedeño, Bruce Rondón, Fry, Joakim Soria and Hector Santiago. Santiago was particularly otherworldly, earning his third win of the season by striking out six in two innings, only letting up for a single walk as he tore through the Redlegs.
The bullpens, stretched to their limits tonight, may not declare their independence tomorrow, as the suddenly-hittable Dylan Covey takes on Sal Romano, of the 5.30 ERA Romanos. The Pale Hose actually stand a fair chance at stringing together a winning streak in the middle of this 10-game, double-march through Texas, hellscape of a road trip.