Instant Rationalization - Possibly the best pitcher's duel of the season goes the wrong way

Everyone finally got the pitching duel they were hoping to see last Friday, as Chris Sale squared off against Zack Greinke.

Sale was at his very best, hitting as high as 96 mph, working in a change-up and two different versions of his slider.

The only instance in which he found himself in real trouble in his eight innings waswhen Rickie Weeks reached 3rd with one out in the 5th, and he responded by closing the inning out with back-t0-back strikeouts.

Greinke, however, was just as brilliant.  He didn't allow a hit until the 5th, never allowed a batter to reach 2nd base, and was so economical that he almost came out for the 10th with only 100 pitches thrown.

After an excellent 9th inning from Addison Reed, the Sox trotted out Jesse Crain in the 10th, who allowed a leadoff double, but also endured some rotten luck with Nyjer Morgan advancing to 3rd on a pitch in the dirt, and a Rickie Weeks single through a drawn-in infield for the winning run.

John Axford control problems weren't enough fuel for a Sox rally, which was killed by a game-ending Paul Konerko double play.

Brewers 1, White Sox 0 - 10 innings

Key Performers

Chris Sale - 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K, 109 pitches - It's nice to see the pride and joy of your team's pitching staff stand up tall against the best in the league.

Zack Greinke - 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K, 100 pitches - Not even a whiff of anyone putting any lift on the ball all night.  A master class in generating weak contact.

Paul Konerko - 0 fo 4, 2 GIDP - Indicative of the night as a whole.

Turning Point

Rickie Weeks turned on an inside fastball with just enough force to drive it past a drawn-in infield and diving Orlando Hudson with Nyjer Morgan on 3rd.  It was the only run in the game, it was really the only time any team seemed to have hope of scoring a run in the game.

Things Would Be Different If....

...Zack Greinke had something else to do tonight.

...Nyjer Morgan was a worse baserunner.  Morgan got an excellent jump on a pitch in the dirt in the 10th inning, and raced to 3rd base before Tyler Flowers could hope to react.  His advancement prompted the drawn-in infield Rickie Weeks hit through.

...The offense had not managed to hit into four separate double plays on the night

Takeaway

One-run ballgames are the sort of toss-up affairs that get written off as not particularly indicative of a team's true talent level.  On Friday night, Chris Sale and Zack Greinke battled to a draw, leaving it up to relievers, sudden-death play, and to some degree, luck.

That doesn't really make blowing one of the finest performances of Chris Sale's young career feel a lot better, but there's not a whole lot that can.

Still, what an excellent game, what amazing performances.  In spite of the result, I can't step too far away from the fact that I was happy to have seen it.

 

Team Record 36-34, 1.5 GB

 

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