For four innings, the White Sox wandered around not knowing they were dead. They trudged into the 14th inning despite the disastrous waste of Jose Quintana's 7.2 shutout innings and the grand fortune of a two-run outburst in the eighth inning against the best starter in the league, and that they were being blatantly outplayed and outhit nearly three-to-one by the Mariners.
It was only an absurd error of Ronald Belisario botching a pitchout on Michael Saunders in the 14th that took the game out of purgatory. The typically dreadful Brad Miller drilled a ground-rule double to left-center to put the M's up 3-2 in the top of the 14th, and led to the end of a four-hour, 38-minute game that had lost it's magic after the umpteenth bullpen meltdown, and a ninth-inning Sox rally put on the shoulders of Paul Konerko that ended limply. Adam Eaton did one make snazzy, crazy catch in the 11th, though.
When did you realize the starters would not be giving up any runs in this game? For me, it was when Jose Quintana blazed through the first two innings with four strikeouts with plain evidence that another lefty-packed Mariners offense was not picking up his fastball anything close to the way they needed to. Felix Hernandez's dominance was more of a given, as he is Felix.
Somehow, someway, the White Sox No. 2 guy managed to out-flash the presumptive 2014 AL Cy Young, racking up a season-high 10 strikeouts, often by just painting the corners with a tailing 92 mph fastball. While Quintana dazzled, Hernandez slyly took a one-hitter in the eighth. Before the clear tiring that precipitated his disastrous eighth inning, Hernandez was touching 95, and threw a 90 mph changeup to Jose Abreu in the first inning that fell off a cliff, through the Earth's crust, through levels of slate and limestone until it melted in the Earth's core. He was tough, man, real tough. He struck out eight and allowed four baserunnrers through eight innings.
As Steve Stone noted minutes before the whole thing exploded, Hernandez seemed to have lost just a touch of zip when he came out for the eighth. The fallout came when The King's 3-2 challenge fastball to Conor Gillaspie went flying into the right-center gap for a leadoff triple, and was immediately followed by a jamshot double by Dayan Viciedo to put the Sox ahead. Pinch-runner Moises Sierra would score on a Tyler Flowers sacrifice fly only after somehow ducking being tagged out on his way to third on a truly bizarre play on an Alejandro De Aza grounder. We'd think about it more if it had wound up being the deciding run.
Instead, Robin Ventura's attempt to play matchups with Eric Surkamp against Robinson Cano led to Zach Putnam trying to pitch over a leadoff walk. But the splitter wasn't missing any bats Saturday afternoon, Corey Hart followed with a single, Kyle Seager moved Cano to third on a hard lineout to right, and another deep flyout to center from Mike Zunino put the Mariners a run away with two out.
Putnam got Morrison to put one on the ground to the first base side, but the hot shot deflected off the outstretched glove of Jose Abreu (whose hitting streak also died Saturday), and ricocheted away from Gordon Beckham as he raced to the right. The game-tying single through the middle from Michael Saunders left less room for pondering what could have been. That the bullpen managed to string together four scoreless innings after this seems kind of obnoxious now.
Team Record: 41-47
Next Game: Sunday at 1:10pm vs. Seattle on CSN
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