A plodding, poorly-played series between two fourth-place teams came to a fitting conclusion.
Tyler Saladino blooped an 11th inning walk-off single to net the White Sox a 6-5 win over the Seattle Mariners in front of 28,031 on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field. The game only reached extra innings because of Mariners shortstop Brad Miller, who fired an errant throw toward first base on a routine ground ball with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, allowing Trayce Thompson to score the equalizing run.
In short: Had Miller made an accurate throw, the game would’ve been over. There’s a reason the Mariners (61-70) have vastly underperformed expectations this year — but then again, so have the White Sox (61-68).
“That’s part of playing the game, play it all the way out,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You never know what’s going to happen. It has happened to us. We shot ourselves in the foot too.”
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The White Sox had to battle back twice from Kyle Seager-induced deficits. The Mariners third baseman ripped a two-run home run in the first off White Sox starter Jose Quintana, then in the eighth delivered a go-ahead RBI single off Zach Duke.
After Morrison’s two errors gave a run back to the White Sox in the bottom of the first, Austin Jackson launched a two-run homer in the second to give the Mariners an early 4-1 cushion.
The White Sox fought back in the fourth, plating two runs against erratic Seattle starter Edgar Olmos on Saladino’s RBI double and Adam Eaton’s run-scoring groundout. Melky Cabrera’s ninth home run of the season leveled the score in the bottom of the seventh, but Duke allowed a two-out triple to Jackson and Seager’s go-ahead single in the top of the eighth.
Quintana lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits with three walks and eight strikeouts. It was his shortest outing since the Detroit Tigers tagged him for nine runs in four innings April 19.
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The White Sox finished August with a 12-16 record, hardly what the organization hoped for when it decided to hang on to Jeff Samardzija and even considered buying at the trade deadline a month ago. The American League wild card race is fickle — Cleveland is on a five-game winning streak and is only five games out of a playoff spot — but the White Sox will need a scorching September to move from the periphery of the playoff race.
“I think if we stay consistent in the way we approach the game we’ll be fine, but it’s just been a real roller coaster for us and with any team, a roller coaster is not a good thing,” outfielder Adam Eaton said. “We’re just going to take it into September, stay on an even keep and try to be consistent. The pitching has been consistent, but our hitting needs to be more consistent and be there every day. When we get punched like we did today, we need to punch back and that’s big. We don’t lay down. Consistency will be a big key in September for us.”
Still, the White Sox haven’t been consistent for five months and 128 games. If this team can find it next month, maybe they can climb into an aggressively mediocre AL wild card race.
But if not, the clock will strike midnight on the White Sox season awfully quickly, if it hasn't already.