Record: 35-32. Change on last season: +8
Over 26 innings of this series, we out-scored the Sox 24-8...
...And then there was the sixth innings of yesterday's game. With Zen-like wisdom, Melvin said, "We gave up a big inning. Ten runs is a big inning." No kidding, Confucius. For the sake of future generations - who may need something to scare troublesome kids into behaving - let's recap, shall we?
- Iguchi grounded out to shortstop.
- Thomas homered to left center.
- Konerko walked.
- Rowand singled to right, Konerko to second.
- Dye singled to left center, Konerko scored, Rowand to second.
- Pierzynski reached on fielder's choice to shortstop, Rowand scored, Dye to third, Pierzynski to second on shortstop Clayton's throwing error.
- Crede reached on fielder's choice to shortstop, Dye scored.
- Uribe homered to left center, Pierzynski and Crede scored.
Claudio Vargas relieved Russ Ortiz.
- Podsednik grounded out to pitcher.
- Iguchi tripled to left center.
- Thomas walked.
- Konerko homered to left center, Iguchi and Thomas scored.
- Rowand flied out to right.
That doesn't quite capture the full horror of the scenario as it unfolded, a 6-2 lead turning into a 6-12 deficit. Seven straight Sox scored without even an out, thanks to Royce Clayton blowing two consecutive plays. First, he threw wildly on what could have been a twin killing, then, on Crede's grounder, Clayton - in the words of one report - "appeared confused where to throw", didn't bother at all, and the tying run scored without a play.
Even when Uribe's three-run shot had put the Sox 9-6 up, we still had a chance. After all, in 24 innings to that point, we'd scored 24 runs, so three down with three to play was not insoluble. Ah, but here comes our bullpen. Claudio Vargas gets one guy out, then three runs score before he gets another, and it's a six-run lead. We, effectively, surrender as planned, albeit about five innings later than anticipated.
While he fell apart in that sixth, Ortiz hadn't been pitching badly until then, and tagging him for seven earned runs seems unfair - how in hell did Clayton not get an error for that second play? He didn't give up a walk through the first five innings, and pitched as good as I'd seen him. Valverde, brought in for the ninth, also seemed to show a bit of bite, fanning two Chicago players. Two hits for Tracy - his third such game in a row - and a three-run homer for Clark.
On the upside, with the Dodgers and Padres losing again, we're still only two games back, and if you'd told me before the series that we'd take two of three against the Sox on the road, I'd have taken it. This was against the team with the best record in baseball, don't forget. Thanks to Otacon for bravely sticking his head over the parapet; for some strange reasons, things went quiet after that sixth innings...
Heroes and Zeroes, Series 22: vs. White Sox on road
Estes: 9 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 1 ER
Glaus: 6-for-12, 5 RBI, 2 HR
Ortiz: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 7 ER
Vargas: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 ER
Clayton: 1-for-12, horrendous fielding
Estes' first complete game was the highlight, while Glaus and Tracy both swung the bat very well this series. After the first two games, there were few villains to be found, but yesterday supplied plenty - all in the sixth innings. We had Ortiz's collapse, followed by Vargas's failure, all compounded by Clayton's little-league defense.
The Banana tries to defend him, saying, "Royce Clayton shouldn't get grilled for his defense in the sixth inning. On the one error for which he was charged, he made a great play just to get the ball, and when he slid, his hand was soaked because of the wet grass from the rain, resulting in a poor throw to second. Later, he should have trusted his first instinct and thrown home to make a play, but when Troy Glaus cut in front of him and missed the ground ball initially, it put Clayton on the spot and his vantage point wasn't optimal."
S'funny, it didn't seem to stop him from seeing the ball and picking it up. The tying run is heading for home plate. It's obvious what to do, and I don't get paid $1,350,000 to see this. Being "put on the spot" is what you're in the big leagues for, and if you can't respond, there are plenty of players who can. Hell, I'm willing to bet Justin Upton - or even any 41st-round pick - would have made a better job of it, and at least got one out.
Such incompetence would be tolerable if Clayton was hitting .320. But he isn't. Of 171 qualifying major-leaguers, Royce's OPS is ranked 169th - only two are lower than his .578. One is Cristian Guzman of the Nats; the other might be familiar to D'backs fans. Hey, it's Tony Womack, slugging .272 for the Yankees, with 0 HR and just five extra-base hits and ten RBIs in 57 games. At least we didn't sign Clayton to a multi-year deal...
Day off tomorrow, as the D'backs head to Cleveland, so can put some hours and miles between them and this collapse. If Clayton and Vargas get misticketed and end up in Alaska, I won't complain. Guess I'll have to find something to write about - but no worries, I have an iron in the fire on that already, and also a guest spot elsewhere. So tune back in on Friday!