This game was all about the pitchers. That is, until the ninth inning as a throwing error by Xander Bogaerts allowed Alexei Ramirez to score, capping off a pitcher's duel with a White Sox 2-1 victory.
The bottom of the ninth started off in a familiar fashion for the White Sox. Alejando De Aza walked to lead off the inning but was caught stealing easily on a good throw by A.J. Pierzynski. Ramirez followed that up with a single and then Eaton walked. With men on first and second and two outs Marcus Semien came to the plate and hit what appeared to be a routine ground ball to the Red Sox shortstop. However, in the game of baseball what seems routine isn't always so Bogaerts made a low throw that Mike Carp was unable to handle at first base. It was a full count before the Semien grounder, which prompted Robin to send the runners on the pitch allowing Alexei to score easily on the error to win the game.
Erik Johnson took a huge step forward from his past two outings as he dominated the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox's lineup. Johnson channeled his inner-Mark Buehrle as he consistently painted the corners of the strike zone with his 90 mph fastball. In addition to his fastball he had his other three pitches working as well. As a result he came away with nine strikeouts — a career high — and only two walks against this potent lineup.
Recent concerns about Johnson's velocity were irrelevant in this matchup. In six starts last year Johnson averaged 92 mph on his fastball but thus far this year he is averaging only 89.3 mph. While he still wasn't lighting up the radar gun as he topped out at around 92 mph, his command was excellent, which made additional velocity unnecessary. Another major concern going into the season was Johnson's lack of strikeouts. Johnson only had six combined in his first two starts but he looked much more like the strikeout pitcher he was in the White Sox minor leagues with nine this evening.
Jake Peavy looked like he was not going to be long for this game after the second inning. While he only gave up one run on a solo homer by Adam Dunn, his pitch count was at 52 by the end of the inning. Unfortunately for the White Sox, Peavy started dealing after his early struggles. He ended up striking out eight hitters over six innings of work. He was, however, uncharacteristically wild as he walked four batters for which the White Sox were unable to make him pay. Aside from the home run he allowed to Dunn in the second and the home run that Daniel Nava hit off of Erik Johnson in the fourth there wasn't much offense to speak off due to some fantastic pitching by both teams.
- Alexei Ramirez extends his hitting streak to 14-games, which is one game behind Frank Thomas for the most consecutive games with a hit to start the season.
- Dunn continues his hot start to the season as he didn't create any outs in this game. Dunn walked twice and hit a homer boosting his triple slash line to .294/.468/.618.
- Scott Downs had an uneventful outing after giving up three earned runs over 1.2 innings prior to this evening. Downs and the rest of the bullpen gave up no runs and only walked one batter while striking out three after Johnson left the game.
- Viciedo continues to hit well with a double and a single. He is now hitting .333/.395/.455 on the young season.
- Part of the reason for pitching dominance in this game was due to home plate umpire Marvin Hudson's huge strike zone. He was calling strikes on a lot of pitches away that seemed to be out of the strike zone.
- This game took forever given that it was 1-1 until the bottom of the ninth. The game time was 3 hours and 37 minutes.
Team Record: 8-6
The next game is tomorrow, 4/16/14, against the Boston Red Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. The start time is 7:10 p.m. and residents of the Chicagoland area can watch on WCIU.