Thanks to some recent franchise luck, the White Sox 5-4 loss suffered late, late, late on what always seems like a dark night in Oakland, was only the team's sixth-consecutive defeat in Oakland Coliseum.
A three-run ninth inning rally kickstarted by Jose Abreu's 14th home run off starter Jesse Chavez made a nailbiter out of things. An Adam Dunn walk and an errant Josh Reddick dive that turned a Dayan Viciedo liner into a double put two runners in scoring position, and the Sox plated both of them on an Alexei Ramirez single and a Paul Konerko sac fly. By that time, the A's had sucked out all the fun, removed Jim Johnson and had Sean Doolittle reel off three-straight outs to end the brief escape from their typical Oakland malaise.
Oakland is not one of America's ritzier metropolises. The fans, are few, but dedicated, such that their loopy and tongue-in-cheek heckling is audible throughout the frequent silences in the broadcast, and the frustrated profanity of Sox players is unmistakable. You could even hear John Danks curse as he gave up a go-ahead fifth inning two-run home run to Josh Donaldson; the 2013 MVP finalist posed after he put the A's up 3-1 by whipping a low-and-in cutter that both lacked perfect placement and the old velocity that would have covered up the mistake.
The place is like a dream.
One of those dreams where you keep falling while someone slow and otherwise easily escaped chases. The A's are a good team with an offense that did sufficient damage to Danks' array of high changeups and unimpressive cutters, and jumped all over some more Brandon Webb wildness in the seventh and eighth (he's been secretly way too wild to think about giving more responsibilities) to stake the A's to a 5-1 lead entering the ninth
In Oakland, every liner hangs and glides into outfielders' gloves, every long fly ball scrapes across the top of the sky and every A's fill-in arm takes the game into the seventh. The Sox are a weakened version of themselves, even when they are already pretty bad. In this case, the fill-in arm laying waste to them was rail-thin 30 year-old right-hander Jesse Chavez, who has been getting his first crack at a major league rotation this season.
Featuring a big, looping slider and 3% body fat, Chavez retired 10 batters in a row at one point and breezed through his first eight innings in 90 pitches, on a Sox hitting night only Merrill Hess could love until the ninth. The only marks against Chavez were two solo bombs from Cuba. Dayan Viciedo hit a second inning solo shot that was crushed beyond measure...and true to Oakland form, it barely cleared the right-center field wall. His night ended when Bob Melvin tried to extend him for a complete game, and he was promptly met by the reality of Jose Abreu, who clubbed his 14th to the opposite field in a stadium where he shouldn't be able to do that type of absurdity.
The White Sox one chance to break ahead came with the game still tied in the fifth, where an Adrian Nieto single and a Gordon Beckham walk, combined with a wild pitch put runners in scoring position for Conor Gillaspie with two out, whereupon he flipped a line drive to center that floated teasingly into the reach of Craig Gentry in center.
Leury Garcia got the start in center and at the leadoff slot Monday in a desperate effort to shake things up. He went 0-5 with one flyout to the warning track, made the game-ending out by whiffing on a fastball over his head and misplayed a Josh Reddick drive into an RBI triple. It was worth a try.
Daniel Webb came on in relief and solidified the closer position for Matt Lindstrom. He walked four, gave up two wild pitches and allowed a booming two-run double to Jed Lowrie in the seventh that wound up being the difference.. It was one of the 10 of 29 pitches he threw for strikes.
Danks wound with a quality start out of this mess, and struck out five over two walks. His curveball looked more useful than usual, but he lacked the pinpoint control to keep the Sox offense in rallying range.
Team Record: 19-21
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