The White Sox have come back to win 34 of their 69 victories. Almost half. Crazy.
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) August 25, 2012
That was after Friday night, so now it's a perfect split. Per the playbook of the first two nights of the Yankees series, the Sox spent the first inning trying to play the part of a trainwreck, before a well-timed about-face.
Jose Quintana couldn't throw a slider that went farther than 55 feet, and attempts to rev his fastball up to 93 mph didn't do much for his command. He allowed a three-run bomb to left-handed Kyle Seager, but was more than a little fortunate to escape the initial frame with only that as the damage. He walked four in the inning and almost cracked forty pitches.
He wouldn't walk another on the night, despite a strike zone so shifty that A.J. Pierzynski and Robin Ventura both got tossed arguing it in the 3rd. Quintana didn't look brilliant--he switched to grabbing strikes with a slow curve and was tired out by the 6th, but he strung along zeroes while the offense reeled in Seattle starter Blake Beaven, a man capable of being reeled in.
Beaven, also typically a strike-thrower having problems with the zone, gave up RBI singles in the 1st and 4th to Paul Konerko and Alex Rios, but absolutely hit the wall when trying to bridge his way to a quality start in the 6th. In the span of two pitches he allowed a solo shot to sudden-replacement Tyler Flowers, and hung a breaker that Alexei Ramirez laced for a double. His night ended after that, but the two-out RBI single Dewayne Wise lined off of lefty-specialist Charlie Furbush was still charged to Beaven's tab.
The Sox bullpen didn't make it look full of grace. In the 7th and 9th, they managed to bring up the Mariners best hitter--John Jaso--with chances to tie things up. Brett Myers tied him up with a fastball on the hands that he popped to Beckham with the bases juiced in the 7th, and after allowing a home run to Kyle Seager and bloop single to Justin Smoak, Addison Reed got him to pop out to 3rd to end the game.
White Sox 5, Mariners 4
Dewayne Wise - 2 for 5, RBI, R - Just, don't question it.
Kevin Youkilis - 2 for 2, R, BB, HBP - Not ever making an out is certainly a valid way to affect a game on offense.
Paul Konerko - 2 for 3, RBI, BB, K - He's been pulling singles for the past two nights, and there are no complaints here.
Alex Rios, 2 for 4, 2B, RBI, R - His 8th inning double and runs scored wound up being absolutely vital insurance.
Tyler Flowers - 2 for 3, HR - Not bad considering he got thrown into the game in the 3rd inning.
It was a fine time to bemoan the hitting of Gordon Beckham with two outs in the 6th. He had been handed a crucial RBI opportunity--the game tied at 3 with only one out and Alexei Ramirez on 3rd--and popped up the first pitch. That set up Dewayne Wise against lefty-killer Charlie Furbush, and it didn't look good after Furbush flew a couple of heaters past Wise to get ahead 0-2. But Wise stayed in there, fouled off a few pitches, and lined a center-cut fastball up the middle to give the Sox a 4-3 lead.
Things Would Be Different If...
...not for the White Sox mystical ability to retire John Jaso. He came into the series hitting .329/.476/.566 since the All-Star break, and while he hit the go-ahead single Friday night, he's now 1 for 7 on the series, and came up empty in two huge situations Saturday night
There is simply no obstacle the White Sox dominance of Mariners can't overcome--be it control regression from Jose Quintana, shaky ninth innings from Addison Reed, or the manager and starting catcher getting ejected. It's a matchup the Sox need to exploit with their schedule, and for the first time in three years, their unique ability to exploit Seattle could come in handy for a division title.
Making light of matchup advantages that might not exist aside, Tyler Flowers coming into his own a bit, Quintana's continued ability to wade through unimpressive outings, and healthy production from the heart of the order looked great.
Team Record: 70-55, 2.5 games up