I had this post pretty much written midway through the 8th inning, then the game hit a fan, and crazy jagged pieces of baseball splattered everywhere as the Angels scurried in terror. But up to that point, there was a clear narrative:
Jake Peavy made his long-awaited, and lest we forget, improbable return to the mound, and looked....well...as good as you would hope.
He topped out at 93 mph on the radar gun, threw some competent sliders (and a few that didn't qualify as such), got through 6 innings and 87 pitches injury-free and most encouragingly, lost a battle with Ozzie Guillen to return for the 7th inning after 6 IP, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. He looked strong, and pitched well in spurts. A more than encouraging debut given the layoff.
For about 8 innings, it looked as though all his return would do is
sadly implicate that starting pitching hasn't been dooming the Sox this
year. Pierre dropped a warning track fly ball into an RBI triple,
A.J.'s arm waved Angels runners to 2nd like a windsock, and the offense
combined to strand 15 runners on base.
That really would have
been wacky enough. Professional baseball players dropping baseballs
really is quite goofy, but it didn't end there.
Curious Happening #1
- The Angels pull lefty Scott Downs to insert righty Bobby Thompson to
face Carlos Quentin with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th. Quentin of
the intense reverse platoon splits. It worked out fine for the Angels,
but it's odd when something so purposeful is done without reason.
Curious Happening #2 - With a run scored already in the 8th, down
4-2 with runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 out, the White Sox appear to pull
off a successful double steal only for Alexei Ramirez to be called for
batter's interference. He backed into Hank Conger throwing to 3rd in a
manner that strongly hinted that he had no idea a double steal on.
Curious Happening #3 - Angels closer Jordan Walden lacked any
measure of control in the 9th, issuing a leadoff walk to Dunn before
falling behind and allowing singles to Quentin and Pierzynski. With the
game now 4-3, one out and the snakebit Rios coming to the plate, Walden
fires a 55-footer through Conger's five hole for a wild pitch, and
removes the double play threat, before walking Rios too. Vizquel then
tied the game with a sac fly.
Curious Happening #4 - After Ramirez singled and Dunn doubled him to
3rd to open extra innings, the Angels decided to intentionally walk
Konerko to the open 1st base to set up a double play and face Brent
Lillibridge. But reliever Kevin Jepsen displayed his preference for
regular pitchin' over all that fancy pitchin', and threw an easy toss
nearly three feet over his catcher's head. Check out the clip if you love watching confused people and fans making the "WTF" gesture.
Curious Happening #5 - With two out and no one on in the bottom
of the 10th, the Angels had their clean-up hitter Torii Hunter facing
the consistently dicey-looking Easy Heat (Thornton). Naturally, this
scenario called for a drag bunt (duh!), which brought a surprised
Konerko sprinting in, and past the angle where he could toss to Thornton
as he rushed to cover. Out of options, Konerko flipped it behind his back while Thornton barehanded his toss for the final out. It's only five curious happenings because I'll lump Paulie leaping 10 feet in the air for a liner for the previous out as part of this.
Many will typify this as a collapse by the Angels because...well, they screwed up a lot,
and gave up 5 runs in the final three innings. But for a Sox lineup
that just wouldn't allow starter Tyler Chatwood to give up the 6 earned
runs he was begging to serve up, to see them not bailout the
command-starved Jordan Walden was quite the relief. Reeling in crummy
pitching is a surprisingly large portion of winning baseball.
If there's one thing out of the night that didn't reek of magic pixie
dust shooting out of Jake Peavy's shoulder joint providing luck where
there used to be none, it was Adam Dunn. Wednesday night witnessed the
Donkey go 4-5 with a HR, a double, a walk, and three runs. With
extra-base hits in each of his last five games, it seems like his
appendix might finally be out of his swing, and not just his body. All
due respect to Peavy, but that's probably a lot more important for the
Sox' fate at the moment.
As it happens, the Sox have now won two series in a row, and four out of
five. Their play is far too muddled to say that things are 'rolling',
but just to be no longer hemorrhaging losses, while knowing that the top
gear of performance is still coming, makes it OK to hope until at least