The first four innings in Anaheim were pretty much ideal for the White Sox on their getaway day. Chris Sale had struck out six through four shutout innings, the Angels defense bungled two pop flies to key a 3-run 4th inning, and had hastened the departure of their starter C.J. Wilson, who only lasted 3.2 IP.
The Sox were staked to a 4-0 lead with five innings to play, but it felt more significant, possibly because it had taken nearly two hours to accomplish.
Then it became an issue of hanging on.
Sale's command and velocity faded away quickly, and he was out after 5.1 IP with over 100 pitches. The Sox offense was productive again, but stranded 11 runners, and only held a 4-1 lead when the bullpen came on to carry the rest of the day.
Brilliant work by the curiously reliable Nate Jones, and insurance off the bat of Dayan Viciedo made the early-game dominance stand-up.
White Sox 6, Angels 1
Chris Sale - 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, BB, 7 K, HR, 103 pitches - Sale was dominant in the early innings, flashing as high as 96 mphand jamming righties inside. While a Pujols HR is the only stain on his line, the quick fade at the end of his start left a bad taste.
Nate Jones - 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K, BB - Entered in the 6th to clean up for Sale after he left with Trumbo on 2nd, and pitched an extra-inning to cover up the highest-leverage situations of the game.
Alejandro De Aza - 0 for 1, R, 3 BB - Exploited CJ Wilson's control issues to great effect.
Adam Dunn - 2 for 5, 2 RBI, 2 K - 4th inning single was the most important blow of the game
A.J. Pierzynski - 3 for 5, 2 RBI, K - Heating up again, but in the familiar way: with tons of singles
Dayan Viciedo - 1 for 4, HR, 2 R - The multi-hit streak died, but so did a baseball at his hand
Brent Morel - 1 for 2, R, 2 BB - Interesting day, since everyone is contemplating desperate measures to replace him
A dropped fly ball and control issues from CJ Wilson loaded the bases for the Sox in the 4th, but after Gordon Beckham waved at an outside fastball for the second out, they were threatening to waste it.
Dunn--despite having already struck out twice against Wilson in the game--lined a single through the shift (he hit it to where Howie Kendrick might have been standing in a normal alignment) to plate two runs, which wound up being enough.
Things Would Be Different If...
Poor Angels defense could be tagged for all three runs the White Sox scored in the crucial 4th inning. The poor communication between 2B Howie Kendrick and CF Peter Bourjos on a Paul Konerko pop-up allowed De Aza to score, and was eerily reminiscent of Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez's misadventures in short center field last season.
Mike Trout's error that kickstarted rally really had no cause other than bright California sunshine. Perhaps they'll consider getting rid of it.
The White Sox salvaged a split in time for the start of their traditional source of redemption--interleague play.
Sale in top form hinted again at the upper-level potential of the starting rotation, but his quick tiring reminded that his development and management will be a constant topic for the rest of the year.
Pujols' two home runs in the series hinted that the Sox may have stirred a monster, but the same could be said for Viciedo, who seems out to make Robin Ventura's life difficult this weekend.