KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Addison Reed isn’t confident he could have pulled off this streak last season.
But that was before he and his coaches worked to develop his slider.
Running low on gas, Reed entrusted his slider on Thursday night and walked away with his sixth save in six games as the White Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals with a 4-3 win in 12 innings.
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Conor Gillaspie hit a leadoff home run to start the inning and then Reed became the first closer to notch six saves in six games since Eric Gagne did it for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003. Reed gave all the credit to his slider as he recorded three consecutive outs with the tying run on second. The effort earned Reed his 34th save and made a winner of rookie reliever Jake Petricka, who made his major league debut.
“I didn’t look at the (fastball) velocity, but I felt like it was down,” Reed said. “If I would have kept throwing that I’m sure they would have sat on fastballs. I think the slider saved me tonight.”
Reed has done a yeoman’s job for the White Sox of late.
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He has converted eight saves overall in August for the White Sox, who have won 12 of their last 17 games. Though he would have preferred to stay away from Reed, White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the right-hander informed coaches he was OK to pitch after Gillaspie put them ahead with a solo homer off Luke Hochevar, his 11th.
“He’s had a lot of work,” Ventura said of Reed, who has converted 34 or 39 saves this season. “We’ve played well and he’s had a lot to do with it because he’s going in pretty much every game. We would have liked to have stayed away from him tonight. The way it’s going, you go extra innings, he said he was available. Not ideal but he got it done.”
Reed walked Billy Butler on six pitches to start the bottom of the 12th inning. Pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson took over and stole second base to put the tying run in scoring position. Reed then fell behind David Lough as two fastballs went for balls. After the next fastball went for a strike, Reed threw three straight sliders to get Lough swinging.
Chris Getz then lined out to shortstop and Reed got Emilio Bonifacio to fly out to center.
Six of Reed’s 16 pitches were sliders, which is in line with his pitch selection this month. In August, Reed has thrown his slider 68 times in 189 pitches, according to brooksbaseball.net.
Last season, Reed threw the slider 60 times from July 1-Oct. 3.
“This situation last year it would have probably been 95 percent fastballs that last inning,” Reed said. “This year is totally different. I could have even mixed in a couple changes if I had to. I’m feeling a lot better with my stuff.”
Reed’s effort was representative of the White Sox bullpen, which delivered five scoreless innings. Six relievers, including Petricka, combined to hold the Royals to two hits. Petricka took over with one out in the 11th after David Purcey walked and hit a batter. The rookie induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of Royals third hitter Salvador Perez.
Gillaspie then ripped a 1-0 pitch from Hochevar just over the fence and the glove of Kansas City right fielder Justin Maxwell for a 4-3 lead. As he rounded the bases, Gillaspie said his initial thought was now the White Sox needed to hold on.
“The way things have gone for us this year, who knows,” Gillaspie said. “It’s anyone’s guess. It’s definitely good for Addison. He came in and stepped up and made big pitches when he needed to.”