Despite slumping through 12 lifeless innings Friday, and resting a gimpy Adam Eaton Saturday night, the White Sox offense pounded out 15 hits and staged multiple late-inning rallies to rescue the team from a bullpen meltdown in Minnesota. Who knew?
1. Facing a 5-4 deficit in the ninth with two outs, Melky Cabrera drilled his third hit and his third RBI of the night to left to score the incredibly fleet-footed Tim Anderson (who collected three hits himself) from second to square things, and eventually send the game into extras.
One inning later in the 10th, an even more unusual pairing brought in the go-ahead run. Avisail Garcia drilled his second booming double to right, and came around much more easily than Anderson when Dioner Navarro banged his third hit of the night down the left field line. The Sox trotted a lineup that was half sub-.300 OBP or sub-.400 SLG, but still managed to beat up on familiar tormentor Tommy Milone (5.1 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3K, HR) and tear the heart out of the Twins bullpen.
2. Of course, the offense only needed late rallies when the Sox blew a 4-1 lead in the eighth.
Matt Albers had a great April. He came into the season on scoreless streak, and did not cede an earned run until May 5, from which time the jig has been very much up. Coming into Saturday night, since May 1, Albers had allowed opposing hitters to post a .339/.400/.574 line and collected a 7.00 ERA.
That’s really bad. And it hasn’t been trending in a positive direction. July began with Robin Ventura almost completely abandoning confidence in him, and while pulling him at the first sign of trouble had brought his ERA down a bit, hitters still were posting a .367/.412/.500 against him for the month.
As such, there’s only so much surprise that can be reserved for when Albers is brought on for high-leverage, he responds by walking the tying run onto first, then giving up a backbreaking three-run home run to Eduardo Escobar to spoil a Miguel Gonzalez gem in the eighth.
3. David Robertson minimized the chaos for his part, and nailed up a very easy 10th inning save, but only after the Sox sweated through a harrowing ninth in the name of giving their bullpen rest. Michael Ynoa was lucky to have only allowed a leadoff double to the scuffling Danny Santana, then got more lucky when Byron Buxton popped up a bunt to Jose Abreu. He then got to the brink of escape when he suddenly found his command for a random great encounter against Robbie Grossman, finishing him off with a well-spotted fastball.
Grossman struck out looking three times, and walked, and in general was oddly devoted to exploring the merits of not swinging.
After being called to intentionally walk Joe Mauer to bring one Max Kepler, Ynoa lost his release point and walked Kepler on four pitches as well, and after starting out behind on Brian Dozier, was rewarded with a pop out to third for challenging him with a fastball over the heart of the plate. So yeah, obviously he should have pitched the eighth over Albers.
4. Gonzalez has had the type of July that challenges our conception of him as a pitcher, and his value coming forward. When he snaked a fastball over the outside corner to freeze Grossman and close out the seventh while leaving a runner on second, he capped off a month that saw him log 39.2 innings, post a 2.50 ERA, and strike out 31 over nine walks.
Saturday night was no exception, as he retained the stretch of near-perfect command, breezed through six innings save for Buxton exploiting a rickety White Sox defense for a glorified little league home run to put the Twins up 1-0 in the third. Buxton grounded out to plate another as Gonzalez finally started to tire in the seventh, but Miguel held the Sox advantage at 4-1 with that strikeout of Grossman. He would be the story of the day if not for all the late craziness.
5. Also drowned out by the craziness of later innings was a banner night for Justin Morneau in his old stomping grounds. He doubled in Garcia in the fourth inning and hammered his second home run of the year in the sixth. In limited action, he’s at .263/.333/.474 for the season.
Team Record: 51-53
Next game is Sunday at Minnesota at 1:10pm CT on WGN
Lead Image Credit: Bruce Kluckhorn // USA Today Sports Images