With the 2014 season behind us, I found it apt to take a look back at some of the more significant individual moments of the campaign, for better or worse.
Fun! Jose Abreu says hello
Jose Abreu showed some impressive flashes during his first week in MLB, including a 4-RBI effort against Minnesota in the third game of the season. But White Sox fans didn't get to witness the power display he'd put on for the better part of the season until April 8 when he blasted his first two home runs in a 15-3 rout of Colorado.
Even then, it was hard to imagine what was to come for the powerful slugger's rookie campaign.
Ugly: Don't do that, Avisail
One day after Abreu's coming-out party, another presumably prominent member of the White Sox's future did a big, sad bad. When Avisail Garcia fractured his wrist while diving for a fly ball in the team's April 9 loss to Colorado, it wasn't so much a blow to the White Sox's hope for success in 2014 as it was an unfortunate delay in a player they hope will be a big part in future success.
Things turned out not as badly as they could've been, thankfully. Garcia made his return much earlier than expected and played pretty much every day down the stretch in August and September. The return on him is still TBD.
Ugly: Leury takes the bump
Usually if a position player enters the game as a reliever it's because A) his team is losing by 10+ runs, or B) the game is in the, I don't know, 16th or 17th inning (or later).
Neither was the case on April 16 when Robin Ventura was forced to turn to utility infielder Leury Garcia to take the mound in the 14th inning against the Boston Red Sox. Thanks, in part, to burning through four relievers over the course of four batters (Scott Downs and Jake Petricka faced one batter each), Ventura was out of options when the game was tied at 4 in the 14th inning and poor Daniel Webb had thrown 59 pitches over three innings.
Things went about as poorly as one might expect, as Garcia walked a pair (White Sox pitchers walked 15 on that night), and gave up two earned runs as the White Sox lost 6-4.
Ugly: Felipe Paulino is not a thing anymore
Remember Felipe Paulino? I kind of don't. White Sox fans knew they were getting a lottery chip of sorts when the team gave him a $4 million contract (with a $4 million team option and $250,000 buy-out thank god) and a spot in the rotation.
After a mostly-miserable first three starts with the team, there were already people wondering how much longer Paulino would be able to stick around. Then came an April 18 start in Texas in which Paulino put up this beauty: 3.2IP, 13H, 10ER, 3BB, 3K.
That start, of course, was his final for the White Sox. He was placed on the DL after the game and when he returned, spent the rest of the time in the minors.
Fun! ABREU SMASH
My personal favorite moment from the 2014 season may or may not have to do with the fact that it was the last White Sox game I saw in person before moving to Texas. Nonetheless, Abreu's walk-off slam against Tampa Bay on April 25 was a sight to behold. A bizarre game that saw Paul Konerko get into a shouting match with Grant Balfour moments before the slam and also doubled as Erik Johnson's final start of the season (Bonus "ugly" moment there), Abreu provided arguably the highlight of the season with this:
That was the second of two homers for Abreu that night, and also gave him a rookie record nine home runs for the month of April.
Fun! Sale at his finest
As continuously fantastic as Sale was in 2014, there wasn't really a "defining" game for his season. But I'll go ahead and take his June 1 outing against the San Diego Padres if we're looking for Sale's best overall performance of the season.
No, the Padres aren't exactly offensive juggernauts and yes, he had games with more strikeouts, but June 1 seemed like the day he was most capable of throwing a no-hitter. The only two hits he allowed were a home run and single back-to-back in the fifth inning. The other 27 guys who came to the plate that day stood no chance.
Ugly: Trout slams Sale
Sale's very next start, June 7 against the LA Angels of A, appeared to be equally fine. That was, until the 8th inning. Sale had been cruising along through seven innings, only allowing four Angels base runners. He ran into trouble in the 8th, however, as the first four Angels reached base (one on an error by Alexei Ramirez). Up stepped Mike Trout and, well, you know the rest.
Ventura's decision to leave Sale in to face Trout was controversial, and for what it's worth, Nick Schaefer wrote a great piece the day after the game explaining why it was undoubtedly the wrong one.
Fun! That time they destroyed Joakim Soria
This one is kind of random, but one of the my favorite games of the season was on July 29 when the White Sox actually gave Jose Quintana some run support (in a game where he wasn't at his sharpest).
The White Sox and Tigers played to a 2-2 tie through six innings on that day, with both Quintana and Anibal Sanchez laboring. The White Sox, however, broke through in the 7th when Tyler Flowers singled, Rajai Davis erred and Conor Gillaspie came home to make it 3-2, sending Sanchez to the showers.
On came Joakim Soria, who had been one of the most dominant relievers of the season up to that point, and was recently acquired from Texas, with two men on and nobody out. Six of the next seven batters reached base, including a bases-loaded double by Alexei Ramirez and back-to-back homers by Abreu and Adam Dunn. When all was said and done, Soria had allowed four earned runs (and two of Sanchez's inherited runners), and six hits while recording just one out. The White Sox won, 11-4.
BONUS: Gives Me All The Feels: Paul Konerko's goodbye
Thanks for the memories, Paulie.