Kurt Suzuki is not the most clutch hitter in the history of Major League Baseball, but give him a bat, a helmet, and a late-game situation where he can beat the White Sox, and the Oakland As catcher will deliver.
Every. Single. Time.
Tuesday night, the notorious White Sox killer struck again, hitting a go-ahead, pinch-hit RBI double in the bottom of the 8th inning off Matt Thornton. It was the first run given up by Thornton in his first nine appearances this season. It was the As first run in the previous 16 innings combined. The As beat the White Sox 2-0.
If this sounds like a broken record, well it should. Suzuki has made a career out of breaking the White Sox hearts. If doctors did a DNA test on him, they would likely find a gene called Beating the White Sox to Smithereens.
Its what Suzuki does. All the time. Every time.
Lets take a look back:
On June 12, 2007, Suzuki made his major league debut for the As. Two months later, he played his first series against the White Sox, and it didnt take long for the carnage to begin.
On August 15, with the As up 1-0, Suzuki belted a two-run homer off Mark Buehrle in the bottom of the 7th inning. That was the difference in the ballgame. The As won 3-2.
But that was nothing. Were just getting started.
The next day, Suzuki came to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning in a 5-5 game. What did he do? He blasted a game-winning, three-run homer. Who did he hit it off? Thornton.
The As swept the three-game series.
But wait. Theres more. Plenty more.
On April 15, 2008, Suzuki had his first career four-hit game. Of course, it came against the White Sox. His RBI single off Buehrle snapped a string of 22 scoreless innings pitched by the White Sox. And yes, it was the difference in the game. The As won 2-1.
Later that season on August 15, 2008, the White Sox and As were tied at 4 in the bottom of the 9th inning with a man on base. Rob Bowen, who had been catching that game for the As, had gone 0 for 3 with a pair of strikeouts. Who strolls to the plate as a pinch-hitter? You know. On a 3-2 count, Suzuki nailed a two-run homer to left off D.J. Carrasco to beat the White Sox 6-4.
"I knew at the worst it was a sac fly, Suzuki said after the game. I was happy. We have a day game tomorrow, we didn't need to play extra innings."
No, that would happen on April 11, 2011. This time, Buehrle was a victimized again, but not by his own doing.
Buehrle had a no-hitter until the 6th when it was broken up by -- Suzuki. After pitching eight scoreless innings, allowing only three baserunners -- and none past first base -- Buehrle was replaced by Thornton to start the top of the 9th inning with the White Sox up 1-0. Thornton gave up a leadoff double to Andy LaRoche. One out later, Daric Barton hit a deep fly to left. It should have been the second out except for one problem -- Juan Pierre dropped the ball. Cliff Pennington scored easily to tie the game at 1.
In the 10th inning, Jesse Crain struck out Mark Ellis. Then he struck out Hideki Matsui. Life was good.
The White Sox killer came to the plate. Reporters were already starting to write the obituary.
Crain had him on a 1-2 count. In his career on 1-2 counts, Suzuki is a .201 hitter with 100 strikeouts in 319 career at-bats.
Didnt matter. Why?
This was Suzuki. This was the White Sox. This was the 10th inning in a tie ballgame. And you know what happened.
Suzuki launched a solo homer deep into the Chicago night. The As beat the White Sox 2-1. Of his five career homers against the White Sox, four have come in the 7th inning or later.
Ozzie Guillen had been the manager for all those Suzuki beatdowns. Youd like to think that someone would have warned Robin Ventura when the As catcher popped out of the dugout to pinch hit in the bottom of the 8th Tuesday night with Barton on first base and Thornton on the mound.
You normally dont pitch around a guy who hasnt hit above .250 the last two seasons, but when it comes to playing the White Sox late in the game, they should know better. Suzuki transforms into a three-headed monster of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams. They should have walked him. Or hit him somewhere where it hurts. Why not? The man has inflicted so much pain towards the White Sox over the years, its the least they could have done.
But Thornton was given the green light to pitch to him, and Suzuki smacked the Sox again, right between the eyes.
Over the years, weve seen a number of opponents save their best games for the White Sox; Jason Kubel, Billy Butler, Wilson Betemit are the clubhouse leaders. But when its late in the game, and the opponent is in its final at-bat, whos the last person you want to see with a bat in his hand?
Not Josh Hamilton. Not Miguel Cabrera. Not Derek Jeter.
Its Kurt Suzuki. I said it. I mean it.
Because he kills the White Sox.
Every. Single. Time.