White Sox hit new low, blow 6-run lead in 9th, lose in 12th
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter September 21, 2013 11:20PM
Updated: October 23, 2013 6:54AM
DETROIT — Chris Sale is so good, he almost beat the first-place Detroit Tigers with five rookies in the field Saturday night.
But these are the 2013 White Sox, who’ve been so bad that blowing a six-run lead in the ninth inning is well within their range.
In a “what else can go wrong?” kind of year, the 60-94 Sox found something. Leading by six in the ninth inning with Sale set to enjoy his 12th victory, relievers Nate Jones and Addison Reed combined to give up six runs in the bottom of the ninth, giving Sale (11-13) a no-decision and assuring him of finishing his tough-luck season with a losing record.
The Tigers won 7-6 on Omar Infante’s infield single with the bases loaded in the 12th inning against rookie Jake Petricka, who had walked the bases full. According to Elias, it was the first time in Sox history that they led by six runs or more in the ninth inning and lost. It was the first time since 1947 that the Tigers were down six in the ninth and won.
“Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, you see something else,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.
Here’s what the Tigers’ near-miraculous ninth looked like: After getting the last out in relief of Sale in the eighth, Jones opened the ninth by giving up a triple to Torii Hunter, singles to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, a double to Victor Martinez and a three-run homer to Andy Dirks to make it 6-5. With no outs, Reed, the closer, replaced Jones and walked four, giving up the tying run on a sacrifice fly to Hunter before Donnie Veal got Fielder on a grounder to send the game to extra innings.
“The game is hard,’’ Ventura said. “They battled, we had our guys out there that we wanted, but they just couldn’t get it done.’’
In a season they can’t put behind them soon enough, Sale is the primary reason the Sox are able to look ahead with a glimmer of hope. He’s 24, a two-time All-Star left-hander and he’d be making a bigger racket in the Cy Young discussion if not for his won-lost record that has been mostly out of his control.
“You want to win every time out, and you want your team to win when you get in a position to win, but the hardest outs to get are the last three, and it’s a tough lineup, too,’’ Sale said.
“It’s sports. It’s baseball. You keep your head up and not worry about the what-ifs and maybes.’’
With one more start to go in his second season as a starter, Sale is already blazing a trail into the Sox’ record books. With seven strikeouts over 72/3 innings, he hiked his total to 221 and passed Gary Peters (1967) for the most by a Sox lefty. Only one pitcher in Sox history, right-hander Ed Walsh from the early 1900s, has struck out more in a season. Walsh topped 254 innings four times but needed 464 innings in one season (1908) to do it. It was a different era.
Sale lowered his ERA to 2.97, striking out seven, walking one and allowing four hits.
Why were five rookies playing? With eight games left, the Sox are looking toward 2014, getting looks to see if, how and when they might fit in. Ventura put center fielder Leury Garcia, shortstop Marcus Semien, third baseman Conor Gillaspie and right fielder Avisail Garcia in four of the top five lineup spots around cleanup man Paul Konerko and gave Bryan Anderson (two-run double) his first opportunity to catch Sale.