Baseball pretends to reward consistency, when really it punishes humanity. It doesn't truly drape players for being better most of the time, but rather hinges winners and losers on a single moment of vulnerability over a long night. The White Sox spent most of the night under Anibal Sanchez's heel begging for mercy, but when they broke through in the seventh, it was a torrent--four hits, three doubles and three decisive, two replay reviews and three bizarre runs--to key a surprising 3-1 victory in their series opener in Detroit.
Sanchez was under 70 pitches coming into the seventh, and was hardly at the end of his rope coming in. But Conor Gillaspie quickly rapped a leadoff double to right off him, and came around to erase his lead on a lazy fly ball to the right field corner from Jose Abreu. After working the count full and raising above his brief addictions to tailing change-ups, Abreu shanked a fly that dropped somewhere around the right field foul line, and bounced just beyond Torii Hunter's sliding reach before bounding into the stands. The initial ruling on the field that the ball was fair was critical, since replay was almost a complete wash as to whether it nicked the line.
The cheapness of that double was compensated for by Dayan Viciedo, who hit a bomb to center that leaves 20+ parks in the league, but short-hopped the wall at Comerica, far enough away from the action that Abreu scored despite badly misreading the play.
Baserunning only got weirder when Alexei Ramirez flipped a single to left in the next at-bat. Viciedo made a hard turn at third to test Rajai Davis' arm, pulled up when he looked like sure meat at the plate, and was still retreating when Davis' throw flew past Alex Avila and Sanchez. A quick carom to Sanchez turned it into a bang-bang play at the plate that was initially called an out by CB Bucknor. Since it was the seventh, the third replay of the night--despite an earlier challenge loss by Robin--showed Viciedo's foot lilting away from the tag as he bounced off the ground and away from Avila's reach.
Ventura is still 0-4 on challenges for the season, but replay gave the Sox two runs in the seventh, which was all they needed.
John Danks should be a lot worse. His fastball is now cutter-speed. He has to tamp his change down to a loopier high-70's offering, he has to throw his show-me curveball more and even with all his cash he can't buy a swing-and-miss. On Monday night, Danks had to rev it up just to hit 89 mph, his control was completely absent early on, and he walked three and only struck out one, giving him 13 walks and 14 strikeouts on the season.
He threw 6.1 innings of one-run ball against a very capable offense, dropped his ERA down to 2.88 on the season, and may not have a single above-average pitch at the moment. What a delightful sport.
A surprisingly taut bullpen effort was spearheaded by Ronald Belisario, who dragged his ERA back to single digits with five outs of Archetypal Belisario. He threw 15 of 18 pitches for strikes, the only thing he threw that didn't have sink on it was drilled for a single by Rajai Davis to put runners on the corners, and neutralized by the textbook double play ball he followed it up with.
Facing the bottom of the order, Lindstrom put the tying run on base and made everyone worried for a while like a jerk, and picked up his second save.
Team Record: 10-10
Next game is Tuesday at 6:08pm in Detroit on WCIU and MLB Network
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