Sox battle back, but fall to Mariners in extra innings

Sox battle back, but fall to Mariners in extra innings

April 5, 2013, 11:45 pm
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By Vinnie Duber
CSNChicago.com contributor

The White Sox bullpen did not allow a run during the season’s first three games, and Friday night’s contest went into extra innings before the relief corps’ scoreless streak was finally broken.

After the Sox erased a five-run deficit, the Mariners struck in the top of the 10th inning as Kendrys Morales doubled off Nate Jones to deliver the game-winning RBI and send the Sox to an 8-7 loss at U.S. Cellular Field.

With the game knotted at six in the 10th, Jones began his second inning of work. He yielded a leadoff single to Franklin Gutierrez, which was followed by a sacrifice bunt. Morales brought Gutierrez home with a double to right field, and pinch runner Robert Andino scored an insurance run on a Jesus Montero single. It could have been more, but Montero was thrown out at home trying to score on a Kyle Seager hit to end the inning.

Morales’ double snapped the 6-6 tie, reached in the bottom of the seventh when Gordon Beckham scored from third on an Alex Rios groundout. That completed the Sox’s five-run comeback, which was necessary after starting pitcher Jose Quintana allowed five runs in the top of the fifth. Seven Mariners reached base -- including six via the base hit -- without the Sox recording an out, and Quintana exited with his team trailing 6-1.
 
[More: What to watch for in Saturday's Sox/Mariners game on CSN-Plus]

Jason Bay led off the inning with a double, and Dustin Ackley reached base when Quintana committed an error attempting to catch a Paul Konerko feed at first base with his bare hand. Four hits, five runs and zero outs later, Quintana was on the bench. He said the error was the inning’s crucial play.

“He said he felt that that error changed the inning,” said Sox coach Lino Diaz, translating for Quintana. “Right after that he looked at the video and some of the pitchers were there, they were good pitches. But they were right on him.”

The Sox responded, however, with four of their own in the bottom of the frame off Seattle starter Blake Beavan. Alexei Ramirez scored on a Beckham sacrifice fly before the homer-happy Sox started knocking the ball out of the yard again. Alejandro De Aza smacked a two-run homer, his first of the season, and it was Rios’ first long ball of the season two batters later, a solo shot that made it a 6-5 game.

“That’s the good part about being able to hit home runs, you get back into the game pretty quick,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It was nice. I think De Aza hits the homer there, it kind of gives you a little momentum back. We chipped away and tied it up. It was one of those where the offense didn’t give up all night.”
 
[More: Robin Ventura's complete postgame press conference]

The Sox made multiple comebacks during the course of the evening, tying the game at one on a Konerko RBI single and then again with their sixth run in the seventh. They nearly came back a third time off shaky Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen in the bottom of the 10th. Wilhelmsen issued a one-out walk to Rios, and Adam Dunn drove a high fly ball to the warning track in right field.

“I hit it good but I hit it high and obviously the ball is not going to carry this time of year, so I knew it was probably going to be an out,” Dunn said.

The Sox had more chances in the final frame, though. With two outs, Wilhelmsen walked Konerko, and Dewayne Wise singled in Rios to make it a one-run game. Ramirez drew a walk to load the bases, but Wilhelmsen struck out Tyler Flowers to end the contest.
 
“That’s one thing that I can say about this team the last few years. I feel like every time, no matter what the score is, that we somehow, some way grind out at-bats and give ourselves an opportunity to win or tie it up," Dunn said. "We did that tonight, [Wilhelmsen] just shut the door.”

Quintana’s 2013 debut was a rough one. It started with Gutierrez smacking a leadoff home run to right field and ended with Quintana allowing six runs -- five earned -- on eight hits and a pair of walks in just four innings of work. Five of Quintana’s 22 starts last season lasted four innings or fewer, and only four times did he allowed five or more earned runs.

For much of the night, the Sox bullpen continued its early-season dominance. Matt Lindstrom, Donnie Veal, Jesse Crain and Jones teamed up for five scoreless innings before Jones gave up the two runs in the 10th, which snapped the Sox bullpen’s scoreless streak after 12 2/3 innings to kick off the season. The loss was the first of Jones’ career.