Appreciate the Game (and the Sox)

In yesterday’s post I quoted White Sox skipper Robin Ventura as saying, “It gets frustrating, but I think the way it’s going, the way the guys are grinding, you can’t fault them for anything.” Those comments came after the doubleheader loss to the Indians, which saw the South Siders fall to 13-17 and five games behind the first place Tribe.

Ventura’s observation couldn’t have been made clearer in last night’s 10-inning triumph at Progressive Field. After coasting to a 3-0 lead behind John Danks‘ best performance of the season, the South Siders suddenly found themselves locked up in a 3-3 tie after eight innings. With that momentum switch and being on the road, the Sox could have laid down and died–but, to their manager’s point, they didn’t.

The Sox failed to score in the ninth and Hector Santiago survived the bottom half of the inning despite putting the potential winning run in scoring position. Then, in the top of the 10th, the Pale Hose came to life.

Facing closer Chris Perez, Paul Konerko led off the inning with a single. After A.J. Pierzynski popped out, Alex Rios tripled and scored Brent Lillibridge who was sent in to run for Konerko. Rios then scored the all-important insurance run to give the Sox a 5-3 lead heading into the bottom of the 10th.

I still was not totally confident of the “W” because of the way both the red-hot Tribe has been playing and the recent fortunes of the Sox. But Addison Reed, confident and composed beyond his age and experience, rose to the occasion by setting down the heart of the Indian lineup in order: striking out Asdrubal Cabrera, retiring Carlos Santana on the flyout and fanning pinch-hitter Travis Hafner.

A 14-17 record is not something to brag about. But despite the record and losing a lot of close games (the club is 4-11 in games decided by two runs or less), the Sox are indeed grinding it out. And that’s something we should appreciate.

Come to think it, the Sox slogan, “Appreciate the Game,” kind of fits, doesn’t it?

Sox Notes of Note:  Rios got a bit of revenge on Perez with his clutch triple. The last time Rios faced the Indians’ closer  (last week in Chicago)  he was retired to end the game and Alex took exception to what he thought was Perez’s excessive exuberance. Nothing like a game-winning triple to get payback…I’m usually not good at lip-reading, but I did pick up something interesting in last night’s game. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Cleveland’s Jack Hannahan coasted into second base on a Johnny Damon single. He then leaned over and asked Gordon Beckham, “Who’s your closer?” I found the comment intriguing since it was somewhat confusing to all of us with Sale being called upon in eighth and Santiago in the ninth.

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