The White Sox still have a home opener problem, but this one upset fans in a different form.
Unlike the previous three losses, which featured rather lifeless displays from the offense, this time they blew a four-run lead over the final two innings. That displeased whatever number of the 33,318 fans in attendance had endured the cold and snow, thinking it was all worth it for a rare winner in the first of 81 games at 35th and Shields.
Rick Renteria had who he wanted in there. Pitching on back-to-back days for the first time all year, Nate Jones and Joakim Soria were both touched up. Jones started with a 7-3 lead and brought the tying run to the plate. One run scored on a sac fly, and then he needed Yolmer Sanchez to make a nifty pick for a 5-3 double play.
Soria didn’t get that kind of defensive support. He made his own problems by giving up a two-run homer with one out, then allowing a single to continue the rally. But when Victor Martinez dinked a soft liner into left, Leury Garcia took an angle to make the catch, only to get caught in between. He neither gloved it nor blocked it, and Nick Castellanos scored all the way from first to tie the game at 7.
Gregory Infante took over in the 10th and picked up where he left off in Toronto, in that he might be the first reliever shuttled down to Charlotte. A single, walk and productive flyout put runners on the corners with one out, and Aaron Bummer couldn’t the miracle double play. He did get a grounder, but it was a jamshot to Yoan Moncada, and he could only get one out at second base.
And it wasn’t even one out, because Tim Anderson came off the bag thinking about a double play, but he didn’t even get the force. That out mattered, because Jeimer Candelario followed with a single to score a key insurance run.
The White Sox did get tying runs on base in the 10th. Omar Narvaez excelled in the role he was born to play, drawing a two-out walk against Shane Greene to keep the inning alive. Nicky Delmonico pinch hit, and got pinched by an inside pitch to bring Yoan Moncada to the plate. The hope was that Moncada could redeem himself after going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in regulation.
Instead, he finished the game 0-for-6 with four strikeouts.
It was a sad cap to what should’ve been a fun afternoon at the ol’ ballpark. The Sox scored all seven runs without the aid of a homer, but three of them with the aid of a Yolmer. Sanchez put the Sox ahead early with a two-run triple in the first, then came through with another RBI triple in the fifth. Matt Davidson helped set him up, going 2-for-3 with two walks and four runs scored a spot earlier in the order.
Even Tim Anderson got in the fun. He went 1-for-3, and he also drew two walks(!) and stole another run with his legs. He started the second with a single, stole second, took third on a groundout and scored on a very shallow Adam Engel sac fly.
The Sox also tacked on a run in the third (Leury Garcia RBI single) and two more in the fifth (Davidson RBI double, aforementioned Sanchez RBI triple). When Leury chased Davidson home from first with a two-out double in the seventh inning, it looked like they had all the runs they would need.
That meant James Shields looked in line for his second win. Shields had problems closing the doors on innings, giving up three runs over five innings when he could have pitched better. He did record his first strikeout of the season … against his final batter of the day. It wasn’t pretty, but he outpitched Jordan Zimmermann to accomplish today’s goal.
Danny Farquhar and Luis Avilan relieved him by striking out five over two perfect innings, so it looked like everything was in hand going into the late innings. Alas.
*I’m calling a TOOTBLAN on Sanchez because he got hung up between second and third when a throw home was cut off. He might’ve been trying to draw a throw to make sure Davidson scored, but it looked like Davidson was going to safe with room to spare, and so Sanchez ended the inning for no good reason.
*Jose Abreu joined Moncada in being the only Sox who didn’t reach base. He went 0-for-5, although one deep drive got knocked down by the wind.
*Renteria is 3-for-3 on challenges after overturning two blown calls. Leonys Martin tried getting a Lance Johnson jump on Shields, but Shields was able to step off and get the ball to second, where Anderson applied the tag. Second base umpire Jeff Kellogg thought Martin slid under the tag, but Anderson was emphatic that he got him, and he was correct.
In the fourth inning, Anderson pulled Abreu off the bag with a high throw, but Abreu insisted that he’d tagged James McCann on the swipe downward. The cameras agreed with him, too.
*Abreu was charged with an error because a hot grounder went through the webbing of his glove.
Record: 3-3 | Box score