With the Tigers having already weathered the disappointment of a blown lead and earning a walk-off victory earlier in the day, the stage was set for the White Sox to continue their quiet descent into that good night.
It was indeed quiet, because the opener of the final home series of the season failed to scare even 20,000 into the stands, but also because groans don't carry through the air the way cheers do.
The White Sox were given the gift of an erratic opposing starter for the second-straight night (James Shields walked four, and hit two), but yet again held his hand and walked them through the difficult times.
Shields loaded the bases with no outs in the 4th and 5th innings, and was burnt for just a run in each frame. The first tally came on a plunking of Dayan Viciedo stacked between a A.J. Pierzynski strikeout and an Alexei Ramirez popout. The second came when Paul Konerko bounced into a delightful and productive RBI double play. I'd have to check, but the Sox hitting 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position might have dragged their average up for the month. That one hit? An Alex Rios single that Adam Dunn only got to 3rd on.
It covered up a resurgent effort from a previously lagging Jake Peavy. He weathered through trouble in the middle innings to crack his way through seven and a third with only a sac fly and a Luke Scott solo home run to his name, but departed in favor of Brett Myers after coming from ahead to walk Sam Fuld. The weather-beaten and grizzled bulldog walked off the mound grumbling to himself; a fitting final image for him.
Oh, Brett Myers. His loopy curveball can be a mystifying thing, or it can hang badly in his second inning of work and be crushed into the left field bleachers by Evan Longoria for a go-ahead solo shot.
A laughable baserunning error by pinch-runner Jordan Danks and an inept attempt to bunt and/or hit by pinch-hitter Dewayne Wise stomped out the 8th inning offense, and Adam Dunn struck out swinging with the tying run on 1st to end it in the 9th.
Rays 3, White Sox 2
Jake Peavy - 7.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, BB, 6 K, HR, 117 pitches - In what could be his last start in the building, he squeezed out the clutch, scrappy performance his self-ascribed persona always yearned for.
Kevin Youkilis - A surprisingly frisky night! Youk's feeling frisky!
Dayan Viciedo - 1 for 2, HBP, RBI - He may have been half-decent of recent, but spent the whole season losing Robin's trust. So he gets pinch-hit for in the 8th so Wise can screw-up bunting.
Dunn & Konerko - 0 for 5, 4 BB, R, 2 K - In this case, a walk was not as good as a hit.
Save for perhaps an Addison Reed non-closer appearance, it's hard to know who else Robin Ventura could have turned to out of the pen besides Brett Myers. And yet, the burly reliever hanging a curveball in his second inning of work on his second consecutive night of work, and Evan Longoria crushing it to Joliet--doesn't seem like the most unforeseeable set of circumstances.
Addison Reed isn't very good, though. So it's a tough call.
Things Would Be Different If...
The White Sox made their own bed again Thursday night, and they did it swiftly because they make this bed all the time and it's like second nature at this point. Two-straight innings of loaded bases with no outs, and stacks and stacks of pressing, chasing, undisciplined at-bats in crucial RBI situations.
Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez waving wildly at a pitcher struggling with their control is one thing, but these days even Konerko beats the first pitch into the ground for a double play.
Good to remember that the Sox are statistically in it, and that no one got hurt. Heck, look at the Rays! They're two games out and are completely effin stoked about it.
Other than that, it's just bad. All bad. A bad and a half.
Team Record: 82-74, two games out with six to play.