Instant Rationalization – Rios’ homer snaps multiple bad streaks, leads Sox to huge win over second place Detroit

Instant Rationalization –  Rios’ homer snaps multiple bad streaks, leads Sox to huge win over second place Detroit
Hi-fives all around! (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Tribune photo)

Alex Rios might not have much (or any) playoff experience, but he sure came through in a pressure-packed situation Monday night, launching a three-run rocket of a home run into the left field seats to lead the Sox to a 6-1 win over the Tigers to open the biggest series of the year.

The Sox had been carrying over their struggles of hitting with men in scoring position, going 0-9 before Rios connecting with two men on and one out in the sixth inning.  Porcello, a sinker ball pitcher, left a pitch up and Rios didn’t miss it.

A.J. Pierzynski followed Rios with a homer of his own to center field and Gordon Beckham added a two-run homer in the eighth inning to give the Sox a 6-1 victory.

The other story was the Sox's stellar pitching, which came from three rookies and a fourth who only had 19 career appearances coming into the year.  Jose Quintana came up huge, snapping a streak of three sub-par starts to throw seven and two-thirds innings of one-run baseball.  Brian Omogrosso and Donnie Veal combined to pitch a scoreless eighth inning and Addison Reed recorded his first 1-2-3 inning since June to close the ball game out.

Key Performers

Alex Rios – 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI – For all those times that Rios has frustrated the Sox in years passed, he might have just made up for it tonight with the biggest homer of the season.

Jose Quintana – 7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K – The rookie came up huge in the biggest start of his career, gaining more command of his pitches as the game went on.

Donnie Veal - .1 IP – Veal came on to retire Prince Fielder, who represented the tying run, with two outs in the eighth inning.  Left-handed hitters are now 0-19 against Veal this season.

Gordon Beckham – 2-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI – His 14th home run of the season marked a new career-high and gave the Sox some insurance runs.

Turning Point

The Rios homer turned the entire game around in one swing of the bat.  After both teams failed many times driving runners in, Rios finally put an end to it with his sixth inning home run.  It was easy to sense a huge weight being lifted of the Sox players’ shoulders, as TV cameras caught players going berserk in the dugout and starting to (gasp!) smile and have fun again!

Pierzynski carried the momentum of Rios’ homer with one of his own and the rest was history.

Things Would Be Different If…

…Jhonny Peralta didn’t stop to stare at his would-be and should-have-been RBI double in the second inning.  Peralta being a spectator gave DeWayne Wise just enough time to throw Peralta out trying to stretch his hit into a double.  As it turned out, the Tigers collected two more hits that inning, so Peralta would have scored, which could have convinced Ventura to have a lot shorter of a leash on Quintana.

Takeaway

After all of the unsatisfactory (to put it kindly) baseball the Sox have played over the last couple of weeks, tonight’s win feels like one of those that can really give this team the final boost it needs to reach the postseason.  Then again, a Tigers win tomorrow brings them even for the series with two games left.

Rios’ homer brought cheers from the crowd and smiles to the Sox players’ faces that have been missing for weeks.  It’s hard to think of a single swing in recent memory that seemed to have the sweeping effect Rios’ had tonight and maybe for the rest of the series (Jim Thome's home run in the "Blackout" game of 2008 comes to mind).

The Sox should theoretically have the pitching advantage tomorrow, with Jake Peavy taking the bump opposite Doug Fister for the Tigers.  It is imperative that the Sox win at least one more in the crucial series, and with Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander pitching for Detroit in the final two games, tomorrow’s game looks to be the Sox’s best chance to do so.

Overall Record: 76-64, 3 games up on Detroit

Filed under: Game Wraps

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