Friday, Aug. 6, 2010
Updated 10:43 PM
By Brett Ballantini
BALTIMORE - He's been portrayed on these pages as an awesome incarnation of Marvel comics character (as Hulque Increible) and has a twin roaming around in a State Farm commercial, but really, no one around these parts thought of Carlos Quentin as much of an actor.
But ultimately the right fielder's newfound dramatic flair on defense couldn't avoid a Chicago White Sox loss to the Baltimore Orioles in a 10-inning nailbiter.
Adam Jones provided the winner on a bouncer to left, plating Nick Markakis for a 2-1 win.
"Great pitching on both sides," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. We couldn't get anything going all night long: no excitement. They pitched well, and we were chasing a few bad pitches."
"It was fun," said White Sox starter John Danks, while acknowledging the game being frustrating at times as well. "It was one of those where we felt any kind of mistake could be the ballgame."
Baltimore starter Brad Bergesen dueled Danks to a standoff, recording five Ks and giving up only five hits over seven innings. He fell short of earning the win, but did record the fourth quality start in four tries for Oriole starters on their current homestand.
Earlier, it was Quentin's dramatic flair on Felix Pie's seventh-inning line-drive-trap-called-out, fashioned with the right fielder's customary slide-tackle dive that was as significant a play in the game as Ty Wigginton's run-scoring duck snort to left to put the Orioles on the board in the first or Gordon Beckham's solo shot in the third that tied the game for Chicago.
Quentins play, a second shanked call by first-base umpire Jerry Crawford on the night, drew newly-restruck O's manager Buck Showalter out to the dance floor for some jawing, as Pie Tazmanian Devil-dusted himself at first base. Showalter show lasted so long, Guillen jogged out to third-base ump Chris Guccione, wondering why Showalter's open-mic stint was getting an extended run. The two longtime enemies glared at one another as they walked into their respective dugouts, promising a lively four-game wraparound set this weekend.
"I think Showalter was out there too long," said Guillen, acknowledging his concern that Danks stay warm. "But he was just doing his job, and I was doing mine, trying to protect my pitcher."
In the top of that frame came and went the White Sox's only true scoring chance beyond Beckham's dinger. With one out, Mark Kotsay turned extended his road-trip binge with a deep blast to right-center that turned into a standup triple (at games end Kotsay stood at a smoking 7-for-20 on the road trip with a double, two triples, a homer and five RBI). But the designated hitter ran himself into the second out when he broke for home on Alexei Ramirez's squibber down the first-base line. While first baseman Wigginton made a dandy play on the ball, the skipper was hoping for a more conservative approach.
"I wanted the ball to go through, Guillen said. "But when Kotsay saw the little roller, he took a chance. It was a fine decision either way."
"The play was for the ball to go through," Kotsay agreed. "But Wigginton made a good, barehanded play, so you just have to tip your cap."
The drama was pinned at a higher pitch from the seventh forward. White Sox Wonderboy Chris Sale started the eighth in relief of Danks-who retired for the night with seven innings of six-hit, one-run ball, chalking up five Ks in the process-but the gangly fireballer walked leadoff hitter Brian Roberts on four pitches, then allowed a jam-shot base tap up the middle to Markakis.
"Bad," was Sale's self-assessment of his major league debut. "I was hyped up and wanted to do well. I just didnt have any feel. I've just got to get more prepared for the next time and take this as a learning experience."
In spite of Sale's shaky debut, Guillen was encouraged.
"I liked what I saw," he said. "I want to see what I have. He's not scared. You're going to see him in those types of situations more often. He's here for a reason."
Tony Pena relieved Sale with two on and none out, and promptly threw a wild pitch to move the runners to second and third with none out. Wigginton was retired on a screaming liner to third, and cleanup hitter Luke Scott was intentionally walked to set up an inning-ending double play. Jones popped to third, and Pena coaxed struck out pinch-hitter Corey Patterson on a 3-2 changeup, extending the tie to the ninth.
Danks acknowledged the oddity of this Baltimore series, sandwiched in-between A.L. Central grudge matches with the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins. But both starter and manager saw the Orioles as a formidable opponent, with Danks applauding the Orioles 10-hit attack (sparked by Markakis' four in five at-bats).
"They have a great lineup on paper," Danks said. "It's tough to face them. But we're hoping to win this series and get on a little roll before we get home and play the Twins and Tigers."
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.