This post is delayed because Kevin was at the game relishing every moment, while James was preoccupied thinking about how much Notre Dame is going to choke this weekend against Michigan.
On a side note, Happy New Year to all of our Jewish readers. The Sox sure started the year off in style.
You’ve probably heard the all-too-popular cliché, “It’s the little things that make the difference.” Well, in the Sox biggest game of the year, Alex Rios’ authoritative slide into Tigers second baseman Omar Infante won the Sox the game. Rios was able to take out Infante’s legs, causing a low through that Prince Fielder couldn’t scoop or block, letting it through is legs and out of play for a two-run error, giving the Sox a 5-4 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Sox fell behind Detroit early 3-0 on four hits in the third inning, including a clutch two-out, two-run single by Delmon Young on a pitch that was (surprise!) down and in.
The Sox answered in the bottom of the fourth inning, when the Sox finally showed some patience at the plate (who would have thunk it?!). Gordon Beckham was hit by a Doug Fister pitch, knocking in a run, and DeWayne Wise hit a clutch two-out, two-run single on a 3-1 count to bring the Sox even at three.
Detroit took the lead right back in the fifth inning, but the Sox minimized the damage, escaping with only a one-run deficit. They took that momentum into the bottom of the frame and cashed in with Rios’ great slide, which could wind up being the play of the year for the 2012 White Sox.
Nate Jones and Brett Myers pitched a combined four innings of one-hit, scoreless ball and Donnie Veal, Matt Thortnon and Addison Reed each recorded an out to close the game out and lower the Sox’s magic number to 14.
Alex Rios – 2-3, 1 R, 1 BB – Rios was on base three teams, and his afore mentioned slide was the play of the game.
DeWayne Wise – 3-5, 2 RBI – Wise’s clutch two-out, two-run single in the third tied the game at three and compensated for the lack of clutch hitting earlier in the game.
Delmon Young – 2-3, 3 RBI – Young proved yet again, that if you pitch him low and inside, he will hurt you, which his two-run single did to the Sox.
Nate Jones – 2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 K – Jones took over for a struggling Jose Quintana in the fifth inning and promptly allowed a hit, but nothing else, pitching the Sox almost to the seventh inning.
Rios’ slide is the very definition of a turning point. Not only did the ensuing error from his slide give the Sox the lead, but the Tigers didn’t get a base runner after that. Nothing kills a team more than a defensive gaffe and the Tigers offense laid down after Infante’s error.
Things Would Be Different If…
…DeWayne Wise didn’t make a very un-wise base running move. With one out in the eighth inning, Adam Dunn hit a deep fly ball to left field with the bases loaded that looked like it would be a sacrifice fly that would give the Sox a much-needed insurance run. But Wise tried to tag up and go to third and Tigers left fielder Avisail Garcia nailed Wise at third base before Beckham crossed home.
Luckily for the Sox, the momentum of the game didn’t swing after Wise’s error in judgment like it did after Rios’ slide. Myers, Thornton and Reed would each record an out in the ninth to preserve a White Sox winner.
Sox fans can start to taste the postseason after this victory. The white White Sox flags that seem to make their way to the stands every competitive fall were out in style. The game atmosphere was great, with the fans standing and rooting on the Sox at every important juncture (and boy were there a lot) of the game. This was October baseball in September. And the Sox came through!
The Sox have a little breathing room now with a three game lead over Detroit with 16 games left to play. But the Sox definitely cannot let up as they now face the other team in the division that has given them nightmares this year, the Kansas City Royals. After three in Kansas City, the Sox play three in Anaheim against the Angels, who will probably be playing for their playoff lives. If the Sox can maintain at least a two game lead after the road trip, it will be time to start getting uncontrollably giddy. For now, though, a controlled, cautious giddiness will have to suffice.
Overall Record: 80-66, 3 games up on Detroit
Filed under: Game Wraps