Twice already this season, Marcus Semien had provided his White Sox teammates with a late-inning, dramatic go-ahead home runs, and twice he has been denied by uncooperative teammates coming out of the bullpen and blowing the lead he provided. Deferred but not denied, Semien gave it one more try Wednesday night.
With the White Sox down 4-2 in the seventh and one out away from blowing their third big scoring opportunity of the night, Semien lifted a towering fly ball off an Ian Krol fastball that plopped down a few feet past the fence in left for a decisive grand slam. The rookie's blast redeemed Jordan Danks, who struck out with the bases loaded in front of Semien, Dayan Viciedo, who was doubled off of third to end a fourth inning threat when he ran on contact on a Alejandro De Aza line-drive, and Leury Garcia, who was thrown out trying to steal third base with Jose Abreu up in the third.
Closer of the Moment Matt Lindstrom came awfully close to spoiling Semien's shining moment once more in the ninth. The only at-bat he threw one of his good sinkers in resulted in a leadoff single from Victor Martinez, and then things got worse. Lindstrom escaped with a save only after allowing two warning-track flyballs, walking Austin Jackson on four pitches and when Alex Aliva's scorching line drive found Jose Abreu's glove to end it. Fully-functioning Matt Lindstrom is probably not a great closer candidate. Whatever this mess is probably doesn't deserve to be above Brandon Webb on the food chain.
Semien's big blast also made a winner out of Andre Rienzo, who looked set to have a yeoman effort spoiled by one bad stretch in the fourth. Rienzo gamely took the ball into the seventh despite lacking his big overhand curve all night (6.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3K, HR), but allowed J.D. Martinez to tie the game with a two-run single after getting ahead of him 1-2, before wasting two overthrown curves and grooving a cutter on 3-2. He compounded his mistake in the next at-bat with a first-pitch get-me-over that Austin Jackson took out to left to give the Tigers a quick 4-2 lead.
The Sox initially took a 2-0 lead in the first off another Jose Abreu bomb to dead center field. Abreu's second bomb over 420 feet in as many days covered up a three-strikeout night. Tigers starter Drew Smyly struck out seven over six innings, but had trouble putting away Paul Konerko (3-4, 2B) and Leury Garcia (2-4, 2B, SB, CS). Needless to say, some shred of offense from either one could be a boon to the Sox' already surprisingly consistent attack.
Speaking of boons, Ronald Belisario got four outs for his third-straight scoreless appearance, and Scott Downs struck out Alex Avila with a big hook while serving in a LOOGY role. Useful work from White Sox relievers is becoming easier to find.
Team Record: 11-11
Next game is Thursday afternoon in Detroit at 12:08pm at CSN Chicago
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