The Chicago White Sox never could quite figure out how to win in Oakland.
Today’s game was a tutorial on how to lose a baseball game. As Hawk said during the 13th inning broadcast, this is the White Sox’ 18th game and it is the first one they’ve played badly. The Sox failed to execute on numerous occasions and just when it looked like they would prevail despite their missteps, Oakland rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fourteenth.
There were some bright spots in today’s game. Chris Sale was superb on the mound once again. The skinny lefty went eight innings and only allowed two runs while issuing zero walks. Sale is looking like he’ll continue to be a member of a very strong starting rotation.
Another man that showed up to play was Paul Konerko (as usual). The scene was the top of the ninth with the Sox trailing 1-2. Naturally, Konerko decided that this game would be better tied, so he put the team on his back and blasted the first pitch he saw into left field. The bomb was Konerko’s 400th career home run and it could not have come at a more clutch moment. If he can remain healthy for just a few more years, we may be lucky enough to witness Paulie’s 500th home run as well.
Unfortunately, even when Ramirez had a two-run double in the top of the 14th, that lead was not secure. Hector Santiago blew the save by giving up three runs in the bottom of the frame, sending the Sox home with a sour taste in their mouths.
It is regrettable that the theme of the day was not Konerko’s heroics, but rather the White Sox trying to give the game to the Oakland Athletic’s every chance they got. In the 7th inning, Brent Morel failed at a bunt attempt as Kosuke Fukudome sprinted towards home from third base. Fukudome was promptly tagged out as a result of this miscommunication.
The bunt issues continued to plague the Sox throughout the game. Alejandro De Aza was hit in the forearm by a pitch, but was not awarded a base because he apparently didn’t pull back his bunt. De Aza struck out on the next pitch. The biggest bunt mistake came in the 13th inning after Adam Dunn hit a leadoff double to start the inning. Things were looking good as Robin Ventura pinch ran the quick Brent Lillibridge for Dunn. That all changed, though, as Lillibridge was picked off on a failed bunt by A.J. Pierzynski, resulting in yet another scoreless inning.
All of these bush league mistakes could perhaps stem from Ventura’s inexperience as a manager. As he gets more comfortable, games like these will certainly become less frequent. For now though, these shortcomings were so distracting that they overshadowed Addison Reed’s ninth inning balk and Adam Dunn’s 1-for-6 day with a pair of strikeouts. Thankfully, the Tigers and the Indians were each dealt a loss so the three way tie for the top of the AL Central continues.
The White Sox return home tomorrow to start a four game set against the Boston Red Sox. Hopefully they can bounce back from this tough loss and play solid baseball at the Cell.