With Jake Peavy and Felix Hernandez facing off on Friday night, and the Mariners offense involved, runs figured to be at a premium unless something really weird happened.
Or multiple things.
Gordon Beckham homered twice off of Felix Hernandez, mirroring the feat that fellow troubled former White Sox top prospect Brian Anderson in 2005. And yet, neither Peavy nor Hernandez finished the seventh inning, nor figured into the decision.
After three HRs gave the Sox a 4-0 lead, Peavy's command evaporated in the 7th, and neither Thornton or Crain could stop the bleeding until the game is tied.
With the nature of the night to that point, the White Sox keying a rally by hitting someone in the face felt right in place.
Paul Konerko lined a ball to dead center to start the bottom of the 8th, which seemed like an easy out right before it glanced off of Mariners' center fielder Michael Saunders' face for a double.
White Sox 7, Mariners 4
Gordon Beckham - 2 for 5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K - With his parents in the stands (his Dad has the same hair), Beckham flicked two shots over the left field fence against one of the best pitchers in the league.
Alejandro De Aza - 2 for 3, BB, R, 2 RBI, K - This section might as well not be written, I can't contain the praise. He battled back from an 0-2 count on the 8th inning single.
Adam Dunn - 1 for 3, HR, BB, 2 K - Another quintessential Adam Dunn game
Felix Hernandez - 5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 3 HR - No easy feat to coax this line out of him
The Sox didn't let fans ponder too long how the bullpen could have blown a lead to the Mariners offense in the 8th. After Konerko's liner off of Saunders' face put a runner in scoring position.
After a groundout, walk and strikeout put runners on the corners, the responsibility fell on the shoulders of ice-cold-all-season Alexei Ramirez, who was 0 for 3 on the night.
Ramirez hit a weak dribbler to short, but so weak that shortstop Brendan Ryan had to rush too far to gather it (and double-clutched it when he finally did), and had no chance to retire the fleet-footed Ramirez in order to prevent the go-ahead run from scoring.
When the White Sox get things they don't entirely deserve, Brendan Ryan tends to be involved.
Things Would Be Different If...
Felix was far from sharp on the night, but still displayed his traditional ability to wiggle out of jams (74.7% LOB for his career), as he pitched around three walks in the 3rd without a run.
Instead, the rallies the White Sox built off of the ace were powered by Beckham, who who showed a unique ability to hit line drives just over the left field wall in U.S. Cellular.
I imagine Felix--familiar with the large confines of Safeco Field-- might have longed for home after all was said and done.
It wasn't the most impressive win of the streak by a long shot. The bullpen meltdowns in the 7th and 8th came from the trusted arms of Thornton and Crain, and the 8th inning rally was keyed by an error and one of the weakest grounders of the 21st century.
But it was a win, and now there have been nine of them in a row, and we're long past the point of worrying whether the Sox success is sustainable. They're legit, they're in the thick of the AL Central race, and stockpiling wins while this inexplicable run still has juice in it is all that matters.