It's possible that in all of our glad-handing and celebrating of how Chris Sale had cheated death and fate in skirting through six innings of two-run ball in Baltimore with perhaps the worst stuff he's ever trotted out, we forgot that in this game, death has nine innings to act, and that baseball is a team sport.
Ronald Belisario certainly didn't feel guided by grit, and surely wish he had the opportunity to cover up his mistakes with some resilience in the later innings. While Sale slipped out of the debts his missed spots rang up time and again, Belisario had the first bad slider he threw to Chris Davis blasted to the moon for a walk-off 6-4 loss in Baltimore.
Two long balls off the relief corps (Zach Putnam gave up a solo shot to backup catcher Caleb Joseph in the eighth) made up for the at least two meatballs that stayed in the yard for Sale, and blew all of the 4-2 lead he miraculously turned over after six innings.
Jose Abreu was robbed more than anyone. His hot shot that Manny Machado kept in the infield with a dive pushed across the first Sox run in the third. He tied the game in the sixth a booming blast to dead center off Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen--his 22nd of the season. And he flicked a flare RBI double into the corner in the seventh, for what seemed like an unnecessary insurance run. Since half the fun of this season is watching Abreu pile on absurdities, it wasn't all for naught.
Abreu and Gillaspie, who dropped a gork shot double down the left field line and in front of Nelson Cruz to drive in the go-ahead run in the sixth, provided the heavy lifting to make Sale's goofy work stand up.
As for the ace, he gave up a bullet two-run shot to Adam Jones to start the game in a 2-0 hole, and in doing so pretty much clued everyone in on a night of throwing 2 mph slower than he'd probably like, and placing everything 4-5 inches higher. Sale gave up a hit in every inning, 11 in all through his six frames (which felt like hours) of labor.
In the third, he reached back for some heat on the outside edge to strike out Delmon Young and J.J. Hardy and strand runners on the corners. In the fourth, he led off the inning with two crisp singles, plunked the bases loaded after a sacrificed bunt, was saved by Moises Sierra's powerful if wayward arm on a fly to right, and struck out Adam Jones to escape again. In the fifth, he managed to one-up the difficulty once more, allowing three-straight singles into the 5.5 hole (how Cruz didn't score on the third one, who knows. It felt scripted). Facing bases loaded with no outs, Sale still got Machado to tap into a forceout to home, followed by an easy double play ball from Jonathan Schoop.
Sale came out for the sixth, since he was obviously cruising, gave up a leadoff single, induced another double play, and finished his night with a 405-foot out to center. It was one of his smoother innings. Now that we have time to breathe again, what in good hell was that? This is two-straight outings where Sale has grinded through without his best stuff, and this one could have easily been a six-run night.
Thanks to the pen, it became one anyway.
Team Record: 35-42
Next Game: Friday at 6:05 p.m. CT at Baltimore on WCIU
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