Rapid Reaction: White Sox 9, Rangers 5
ARLINGTON, Texas –- The Chicago White Sox overpowered the Texas Rangers and took advantage of mistakes to win 9-5 in front of a sellout crowd of 47,638 at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It was primarily an offensive battle in which the entire White Sox lineup contributed to take the first game of this three-game road series. Chris Sale got credit for the win in an average performance. Some thoughts on the win:
What it means: With the win, the White Sox hold a 1.5 game lead in the AL Central and keep the surging Detroit Tigers at arms length. They improved their record to 54-45 on the season. The Sox also gave Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish his first ever loss in Texas or Japan in which he had at least four runs of support. Darvish was 59-0 in 63 professional starts with four runs of support before Friday.
Texas Shootout: Friday’s game was an offensive showcase from the start with the exception of a couple scoreless innings in the middle of the game. Both teams combined for five scoring innings, three home runs and two lead changes. In the end, the Sox batters outhit the Rangers, putting up three runs off of an Adam Dunn walk, an Alex Rios RBI-double and an Alexei Ramirez two-run home run in the ninth inning. Those insurance runs closed out the game and kept the scrappy Rangers from launching a comeback.
Jumping out early: The White Sox's bats came out of the gate hot and scored a run in the first inning. They put together three hits and a walk and loaded the bases twice, but Darvish was able to get out of the jams with minimal damage. The Sox caught a break when Adam Dunn hit a ball to left field that Josh Hamilton misjudged and fell for a base hit to put men on first and second with one out. Paul Konerko then loaded the bases with a first pitch single and Kevin Youkilis was brought home on a sacrifice fly from Alex Rios. The Sox loaded the bases again on an Alexei Ramirez single that was almost a double play, but the play was instead another Rangers mistake when Ian Kinsler tried to flip the ball to Elvis Andrus at second, but missed. The Sox couldn’t bring anyone else home though, as Darvish struck out Dayan Viciedo to end the inning.
Rangers answer: The Sox's 1-0 first-inning lead didn’t last long. The Rangers went on a first inning run of their own to go up 4-1. Kinsler, the leadoff hitter, was hit by a pitch and eventually driven home by a Hamilton sacrifice fly. Then Adrian Beltre and Michael Young hit singles to set up Nelson Cruz for a 382-foot three-run homer. The first inning was just the beginning of a back-and-forth battle that would last all game.
Storming back: After Texas came out of the five-run first inning with the lead, the White Sox engineered two scoring innings to take the lead back. In the second, Gordon Beckham hit a single and was brought home by a two-run bomb from Youkilis to make the score 4-3, Rangers. Then in the fourth, Tyler Flowers hit a single followed by an impressive Beckham sliding double to set up Alejandro De Aza for a two-RBI single to put the Sox up 5-4. Later the Sox got an insurance run when Adam Dunn scored on a fielder’s choice in the seventh. The Rangers scored again in the seventh, but three runs in the ninth proved too much to overcome.
Not his best stuff: Chris Sale had a mediocre night on the mound. He pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed six hits, tied a season-high in runs allowed with five (all earned) and threw two walks and six strikeouts. Sale also hit two batters and allowed a home run. It was the first time he had allowed a home run in back-to-back starts since April 15 and 20 against the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners respectively. On the positive side, he pitched five consecutive scoreless innings and had 1-2-3 innings in the second, fourth and sixth.
What injury?: Youkilis wasn’t hampered at all by his ankle Friday night. He took two walks, scored a run, and blasted a 425-foot two-run home run. He finished 1-for-3.
That one hurt: De Aza had to leave the game after a brutal collision with Alexei Ramirez in the outfield. The two ran into each other at full speed while trying to catch a fly ball from Craig Gentry in the seventh. De Aza left under his own power and was replaced in center field by Jordan Danks.