Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010
Updated 10:44 PM
By Brett Ballantini
BALTIMORE He jogged right into this joke, so no scolds for low blows: Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski definitively answered the question of whether he could clap his hands and run the bases at the same time on his game-tying liner to the right-field corner on Saturday night.
Cheering his hit as he eased into an advance to third base after a game-tying double, Pierzynski suffered one of his less dignified moments on a baseball diamond, caught off-guard by a quick relay throw, failing to slide and turning his ankle while slipping on the slick sack. (The official postgame diagnosis from trainer Herm Schneider was a tweaked left ankle, something Pierzynski is confident he could have finished the game with and would be able to play on tomorrow.) Ramon Castro came on to pinch-run and replace the feisty backstop behind the plate.
No, said manager Ozzie Guillen when asked whether Pierzynskis move was something the catcher learned during Ozzieball drills in spring training. Thats why I took awhile to come out of the dugout. I was like, What was that?
It happened, but we won the game, and its good, said Pierzynski, who was walking freely around the clubhouse and had shed the ice bag to reduce swelling by games end.
But Pierzynski didnt just provide the blooper-reel technicians fodder into the fall, but a lift that Chicagos struggling offense desperately needed, as his wild romp around the bases spurred a come-from-behind, 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Ironically, the hit came immediately after a missed ball-four call that had the Chicago bench up in arms.
That was the break we needed, said Juan Pierre, who would single and score the eventual winning run in the next inning. Weve ran into some good pitching, and once we saw A.J. get his hit, there was some relief that we could come back and win this game.
Pierzynski also provided Gavin Floyd with some rare run support, and instead of throwing just long enough to earn a no-decision or hard-luck loss, the scintillating righty took home the win in front of a home crowd that included 20 family members and friends with seven innings of six-hit, two-run, five-strikeout ball. The start marked just the second time since June 2 that Floyd had been flogged for as many as two earned runs.
At first, I thought maybe it was going to be a short one, Floyd said after allowing two runs in the first three innings, uncharacteristic in a two-month stretch (12 starts) thats now seen him sport a 6-2 record with a 1.19 ERA and .205 batting average against. But its nice to come out on top in a close one, whether Im getting the W or not.
I was kind of worried early, Guillen agreed. We werent swinging the bat good and theyve been throwing the ball very good against us, but Im glad we scored some runs for Gavin. Every time he throws the ball well, we dont score any runs for him. Today we did, and he should be very happy.
The winning rally started after Pierzynskis game-tying shot, Pierre going the other way with a leadoff single in the eighth that extended his season-high hitting streak to 14 games. After a pantomime sacrifice bunt by Omar Vizquel, Alex Rios tapped a single to center, scoring Pierre, who luckily for the Sox sprints a tad faster and significantly more steadfast than Pierzynski while running the bases and clapping.
When Alexanybodytries to pull the ball, he tries to do too much, Guillen said of Rios, who has suffered a slump that has seen his average fall below .299 for the first time since May 23. I dont want Alex to try to hit another 20 or 30 home runs, just get the big RBIs. We dont need anybody to try to hit the ball out of the ballpark. If they do, good. But we can score different ways.
After an Adam Jones blastthe first homer off of Floyd in more than 77 inningsand an RBI single by Ty Wigginton that put the Os up a deuce, Carlos Quentin cut the Baltimore lead with a massive blow to dead center in the fourth.
Gordon Beckham supplied an insurance run in the top of the ninth, driving home Alexei Ramirez.
J.J. Putz subbed for Bobby Jenkswho is fighting a slump and some back soreness, and has been a victim of some horrible stumbles in the past vs. Baltimoreto earn his third save in four tries.
It was another great game, just like last night, Putz said. Thats kind of the luxury we have out there, whenever Bobby needs a blow, we can kind of mix and match the way we want to.
It was another all-in rally with a multitude of heroes, but this game did turn out unique in that the games main hero was also the butt of the joke.
I was joking, I finally did something to help around here and I get hurt, Pierzynski said.
Such baserunning isnt recommended, but clutch hitting to snap the White Sox out of an offensive funk? The team will take that, any time.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.