Gavin Floyd knew there was something strange going on at Wrigley Field.
Sure, the Stanley Cup was in the house, as the Chicago Blackhawks party bus made another stop on its summer tour, but this had nothing to do with a celebration. This was different. Floyd realized that the baseball game had taken back the spotlight that the hockey team had been busy basking in.
He and Ted Lilly were on the way to something unbelievable. They were throwing no-hitters ... at the same time.
"I think it was the fifth inning or something like that," Floyd said as he stood at his locker after the game. "I remember both teams hitting some balls, but I wasn't really paying attention. I kind of just looked at the scoreboard and there wasn't any hits, and I was like, "Oh, that's kind of neat, but I wish we can get some more.’ "
The White Sox eventually did get a hit but it wasn't enough, as the Cubs avoided a sweep with a 1-0 win. Still, the significance of what Floyd and Lilly almost accomplished was not lost on anybody in the Sox clubhouse.
"It was crazy," Juan Pierre, who broke up Lilly’s no hitter with a ninth-inning pinch hit, said. "I was just sitting there watching and as it was unfolding, fortunately, this wasn't foreign territory for me. I've been on the bench the last couple years in [Los Angeles] so I've got my rituals of pinch hitting and stuff. It was a pitch [Lilly] probably wants back. But I did put a good swing on it and ended up breaking it up.
“It was fun to watch. Both these guys battling. Guys making plays behind them defensively. It was a good game to watch."
Ozzie Guillen felt the same way.
"I was thinking about it," he said of the double no-no’s. "But somebody's got to score. The matchup was very,very nice. Whoever paid this ticket to watch the last three games in this ballpark, it was worth it. Every penny, it was worth it because they watched some pretty good baseball."
If you thought the Sox were going to be sullen about almost getting no-hit, think again. The Sox weren’t happy with Sunday’s result, but they were focused a lot more on the positives that came out of this particular loss. Like Pierre’s big hit and Floyd probably pitching his best game of the season.
"That's where it all starts," Pierre said of the solid pitching the Sox have been getting lately. "We'll get around to swinging the bats better, but if our pitching keeps us in the game we'll be fine. They're capable of it [from] what you can see. Hopefully, they'll get it going. I don't like to talk about the pitching but everybody knows that it pretty much starts with pitching and defense."
Of course, if Pierre continues to come up with clutch hits like he did in the ninth, the White Sox will be in pretty good shape as well. Guillen said he wasn’t worried about being no-hit and had no hesitation in sending Pierre to the plate.
"I worry about winning games," Guillen said. "I put the right guy out there and the last thing going through my mind was get a hit, We’ve got to try and score in the last inning, We couldn't come through. We had an opportunity, a very good opportunity, and we couldn't finish it up."
Despite the loss, it looks like Floyd may finally be getting back on track. For Guillen, the difference in his big right-hander was easy to see.
"Strikes," he said. "Better command. He uses his breaking ball in tough situations. He's doing what we think he can do best. That's what we expect from him."
Floyd tried to put everything into perspective.
"It was a fun game for everybody, I think," he said. "Obviously, it was an intense game all the way to the end. I just wish it went our way."
With the way the Sox have been struggling over the first couple months of the season, they realize even in the shadow of defeat, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
"It was a good series," Pierre said. "But we've dug ourselves such a hole, when you've got a chance to sweep guys [you have to], especially getting a good pitching performance like Gavin did.
“But the guy on the other side was just as good, so you kind of just chalk this up, and taking two out of three on the road, you have to be satisfied with it."