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When you’re the worst team in baseball, it helps to focus on the positives. James Shields was good again and able to keep Baltimore at bay most of the night despite his lack of success previously against the Orioles hitters. In seven innings of work, Shields only allowed five hits, two earned runs, two walks and five strikeouts.
Yes, the White Sox did have some hits for the first seven innings, but why relive the agony of how they were unable to score with runners on second and third with no outs?
Fast forward to the eighth inning, and Baltimore was leading 2-0 as Daniel Palka came up to bat. Facing Mychal Givens, Palka sent a fastball to deep right field but still in play for Mark Trumbo. As Trumbo reached for the ball it bounced out of his glove, allowing Palka to reach third for a triple, his third of the season. Unlike what has felt the previous thousand times in this situation, Welington Castillo against his former mates came through with a bloop single to put the White Sox on the board and cut the deficit to 2-1.
Leury Garcia struck out giving the Sox their first out of the inning and it was up to Jose Rondon to continue the rally. On a 1-2 pitch, sliced a 95 mph fastball to center field and Castillo showing more foot speed than last night hustled to third. Now the tying run was just 90 feet away and the go-ahead run on first base.
It was up to Adam Engel to pull through at this moment.
As Engel was approaching the batter’s box, manager Rick Renteria sent Trayce Thompson to pinch run for Castillo. Before the game, Renteria had his squad work on bunting to re-try this scenario that failed for the White Sox last night. A batter with poor contact skills and a pinch runner now at third base, Renteria couldn’t have telegraphed that a bunt was coming more unless he just held a giant poster that read BUNT.
Engel’s first bunt attempt was decent but rolled foul. His second bunt attempt was fouled off to the backstop. Now down 0-2 in the count, Engel was in trouble.
Givens just pumped fastballs to Engel but couldn’t entice him to chase out of the zone. Three consecutive fastballs out of the zone pushed the count to full. Rondon stole second base to put runners on second and third. On the sixth pitch, Engel fouled off a high fastball to stay alive in the at-bat. His patience paid off because the seventh pitch from Givens was inside and Engel mustered a walk to load the bases for Yoan Moncada.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter replaced Givens with lefty Richard Bleier to switch Moncada around. Batting right-handed, Moncada worked the count 2-2 before lifting Bleier’s fastball deep enough to right field allowing Thompson to tag up and score the tying run.
Now it was up to Yolmer Sanchez. While the White Sox are awful hitting with runners in scoring position, Sanchez has been real solid driving in runs going 9-for-27 in these situations with 17 RBI. Maybe outside of Jose Abreu, nobody else the Sox wanted to hit in this situation with two outs than Sanchez.
Sure enough, Sanchez pulled through with a single to right field scoring Rondon and giving the White Sox a 3-2 lead. The rally ended with Jose Abreu striking out, but after seven frustrating innings watching the White Sox flounder with runners in scoring position it just felt great to see them string together a rally.
There was still the business of closing out the game which Renteria went with Nate Jones to save it. A curious decision as Jace Fry was available and the Sox would have to face lefties Chris Davis and Pedro Alvarez in the ninth. Jones proceeded to walk Davis to start the inning but came back to strike out Alvarez as Mark Trumbo went to the plate. Already having a great night at the plate, Trumbo made it perfect by collecting his fourth hit with a single to center putting Jones in hot water with runners on first and second.
Jones went full count to Jace Peterson who hit a liner to center field. As it was quickly dropping, Engel made a nice defensive play to close on the shallow fly and almost doubled off Davis at second base. With two outs, Jones made the rookie Chance Sisco looked a bit silly against his slider striking him out to end the game. Securing at least a .500 eight-game homestand as the Sox improve to 7-17 at Guaranteed Rate Field in 2018.
Record: 14-31 | Box Score