Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posted April 5, 10:47 p.m. Updated 12:07 a.m.
By Brett Ballantini
KANSAS CITY, Mo. For a second there, it was Groundhog Day for Chicago White Sox starter Gavin Floyd.
Floyd, notoriously afraid of his shadow when he takes the mound before May, faced down a Kansas City Royals attack that had found great past success against him, overcoming four early runs by pitching into the seventh inning and piling up five strikeouts.
I felt like I was pitching in somebody elses body: I wasnt completely there, and I kept fighting and trying to figure it out. Floyd said. There is nothing worse than getting four runs early and giving the lead back the next two innings It was nice to figure it out after a couple of innings, to battle back and make it a respectable outing and keep us in the game.
Unfortunately for Floyd and the White Sox, the Royals held fast to first place with a 7-6 win, as Melky Cabrera stroked a game-winning single to drive in ex-Chisox infielder Chris Getz with one out in the 12th.
The Royals keep battling, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. Thats the fourth win they have in their last at-bat. They dont give up, and theyre not going to give in It seems like every time we come here, its an extra-inning game and we do a lot of things to lose late in the game.
In fact, it would become the two teams fourth straight extra-inning contest, dating back to last season, as well as the fifth consecutive one-run decision in White Sox-Royals play.
The game began with eerie similarity to the Chisoxs first two clobberfests in Cleveland, with the first five batters reaching base, beginning with a standup triple from Juan Pierre and culminating in a mammoth, three-run shot off the Royals Hall of Fame in deep left off the bat of Paul Konerko.
The offense started off pretty good, but we got shut down for a few innings, Guillen said. When you score four runs in the first inning, you feel pretty good with Gavin on the mound. Gavin wasnt aggressive in the beginning of the game. After the third inning, he threw the ball better."
Though staked to a lickety-split 4-0 lead, Floyd was descended upon by the yips and gave all four right back.
The White Sox pushed back ahead in the sixth, when Alexei Ramirez tripled home Carlos Quentin, who singled to lead off the inning. Ramirez came home on a Baltimore Chop from Pierre, who legged out a hit deemed error by the official scorekeeper.
Guillen may have been angling for the same Chris Sale-Sergio Santos combo platter that wound up Chicagos second win of the season in relief of Edwin Jackson, but that plan was run off the tracks after Sale surrendered a double to Alex Gordon and Billy Butler deposited a fourth straight fastball into the left-center seats on a game-tying round-tripper.
Our bullpen pitched pretty well, Guillen said. One bad pitch: Sale got behind Butler, and you get behind Butler, and that thing home run happens. You got behind the guy and throw a fastball, and he ties the game.
In that situation, you cant fall behind a hitter like that, especially one of their better hitters,Sale said. Youve got to go out there and focus on him, even if I walk him with a lefty coming up next. I made a bad pitch at a bad time.
Both Floyd and Sale were eager to turn the page.
Said the lefty fireballer: If the opportunity comes tomorrow, Ill take it.
Floyd took a longer view.
Its a long season, he said. There are things that happened early that wont happen in the middle of the road and even toward the end. We just have to learn from our adversity.
"We can all do it with the best of themwe have a great team, and well shrug it off," Floyd continued. "You just have to move on. Everybody in the bullpen, the starting rotation, the lineup, we all know what we can do.
Hunter strikes again
Brief controversy ensued in the White Sox 12th, when pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge was caught off of second base but nearly eluded Mike Aviles tag at third. In fact, umpire Hunter Wendelstedt initially called Lillibridge safe at third.
Guillens battles with the Wendelstedt umpiring family are numerous, and the skipper first laughed when asked about the play.
He just said he thought the guy tagged the guy with the glove, he said. To me, thats an excuse. Id rather him say, I missed the call, I got help, and we changed the play. Thats fine with me. But for him to say he didnt see the guy with the glove (and the ball), thats something he came up with.
Gordon Beckham had led off the inning with a single but was out at second on Adam Dunns fielders-choice grounder. Lillibridge entered for Dunn and was pushed to second by a Konerko walk.
No matter what, Lilly got a little too aggressive at the end of the game like that, Guillen said.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.