The White Sox are over .500 again, thanks to a grueling 14-inning 8-7 win where they blew leads, burnt bullpens, and filleted the Cleveland Indians outfield defense like a veal cutlet.
Because I was at the game, and spent over 5 hours at said game, I can't really imagine discussing anything besides it. It was so bizarre, so vital in terms of the division race, and so very, very torturous.
Look at that win probability graph, see how it resembles the EKG readout of someone who's not long for this world? There was a time when I believe I watched sports to relax but that time is....I can't even re--....uh....um.
Anyway, takeaway moments
5 Triples - To have De Aza smack two triples was incredible, Alex Rios' triple was exciting at the time, and both Ramirez and Flowers' triples were utterly hilarious. Still, good on them hitting the ball out of the infield and such. God knows the last 5 or so innings proved such a talent should not be overrated.
That said, I don't what the hell was the matter with Shin-Soo Choo Tuesday night. It was only his third game back, and he's typically an above-average fielder (even in this lost season), so perhaps his horrid routes and feeble battles with the right field wall will subside with time.
However, I have no concept why the hell the Indians tacked on by starting Kosuke Fukudome in centerfield. Choo's antics combined with having someone who was a cruddy rightfielder playing up the middle made for a hypnotizing pair. Every ball inexplicably split them, as if the player who found an excuse to touch the wall the most would have the other owe him dinner.
I can't predict something crazy like "If the Indians play Fukudome in center for the rest of the year, they'll lose their 44 remaining games and allow 120 triples" but, yeah, it's on the menu.
Beckham - With one out and runners on the corners in the 9th, Shin-Soo Choo grounded a slow roller to 2nd. Rushing to end the game, Beckham bobbled the ball while Michael Brantley rushed by him inches away, forcing him to settle for a single out while the tying run scored.
It was a difficult play to be sure, but it stood out. Not just for the situation, but because defense is the only way Beckham is providing value these days. Cleveland victimized him with high fastballs, and he found himself killing rallies in the 5th, 7th, and 9th.
He found some redemption in the 14th by doubling into Cleveland's infinite gap and scoring the winning run. Might as well forget about the whole thing.
Opposite Day - On a night where the offense drove Ubaldo Jimenez out in the 5th inning, racked up 9 extra-base hits, and got a 4 of 7 night from Brent Morel, the Sox walk-avoiding staff suddenly became a team that couldn't throw strikes or rely on its bullpen.
Gavin Floyd's control deteriorated rapidly after an excellent first three innings, and he had to depart with a jam on his hands in the 6th.
Will Ohman stepped in and promptly walked the first two batters he faced to tie the game at 5. That was crap. He was crap. When a 5-2 lead against a poor offense was just frittered away, I officially became suspicious of this game's character.
Sale largely bucked the trend, but fell behind Travis Hafner, and had his 3-2 fastball travel to the highway ramp.
Santos however, stepped right in and fell behind his first three hitters, which of course reduces the effectiveness of his wipeout slider.
From there, things went back to what is alleged as normal for the 2011 White Sox. Santos was betrayed by curious defensive errors from skilled contributors (Beckham's previously mentioned bobble, Rios staring and contemplating the meaning of a soft pop for too long before charging it), and the White Sox bats slipped into a coma in extras, even tolerating Chad Durbin's presence for two innings before overcoming.
Blown Opportunities - Looking to add an insurance run in the 8th with Morel on 2nd, the White Sox stranded him as De Aza struck out, and Quentin flied out.
In the 9th, Beckham whiffed with Tyler Flowers on 3rd to end the inning, ignoring the historical significance of a Tyler Flowers triple.
In the 10th, with runners on 1st and 2nd, Paul Konerko grounded into an inning-ending double play. As disappointed as the fans were, a general sense of "Hey, he's earned one" pervaded.
In the 1tth, Alex Rios tripled to lead off the inning, adding .290 in win probability in itself. From there, the Sox instantly imploded. Ramirez hit a sharp groundout to 3rd, Lillibridge was walked intentionally, then doubled off by around 75 feet when Tyler Flowers lined out.
In the 12th, the Sox stranded a runner on 2nd despite facing Chad Durbin.
In the 13th, the Sox stranded a runner on 2nd against Chad effin Durbin.
When the Indians blew a bases loaded situation in the 13th with an awfully-timed Shin-Soo Choo strikeout (as fans built up a loud chant of Ah-Choooo! with every pitch), it was charming. It was like they had decided to play along.
Tucked away in all of this were 5 shutout innings from Thornton, Crain, and Frasor. Crain pitched around three walks in in two innings, and Frasor turned in as impressive of an outing as he's had with the team.
But they won!
When a team finds it's way to win in a 14-inning game, there's a great tendency--clearly--to focus on the negative. The cost was extreme, the offense dragged at the end, and the bullpen is fried at the beginning of the week.
However, all is true for Cleveland as well--they dipped into their starting rotation a bit, failed to trigger any rallies after countless cathartic groin-punches they delivered to the Sox--and don't even have a goofy video of Juan Pierre celebrating to rewatch to cheer them up. Their only consolation is to wonder how they could play outfield defense that viciously terrible and not lose by 20.
And that consolation will only last for so long, because if they play outfield defense like that again, the Indians will probably lose by 20.
In the end, this was a huge game, with a fabulous opportunitiy to leapfrog the Indians at stake, and the Sox won. This year hasn't gone nearly well enough to sweat the details.
If I were still awake, this'd be funnier, and probably shorter, strangely enough
Tags: Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, baseball, Chris Sale, Cleveland Indians, Gavin Floyd, gordon becham, Gordon Beckham, jason frasor, jesse crain, Juan Pierre, kosuke fukudome, michael brantley, Paul Konerko, sergio satnos, shin-soo choo, travis hafner, Tyler Flowers, White Sox