Friday, July 31, 2009

ChiSox Walk Off In Pitchers' Duel

Thanks to a one hour rain delay, the Yankee game was only an inning old when I touched down at LaGuardia last night. Thanks to some speedy work by the baggage handlers, it was only two innings old as turned on the White Sox radio broadcast when I got in my car. Thanks to a lack of traffic and an overwhelming desire to get home after a week on the road, I made it to my living room in time to watch Dewayne Wise line a single off Phil Coke's glove to end it in the bottom of the ninth.

As is my custom, if forced to listen on the radio while the Yanks are on the road, I went with the home broadcast on XM rather than suffer through John and Suzyn. Unfortunately, ChiSox announcers Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson are only slightly less obnoxious than the WCBS crew, and nearly as openly homers as notorious ChiSox TV man Hawk Harrelson.

Both Andy Pettitte and Gavin Floyd had outstanding starts, aided in part by a generous strike zone from home plate umpire Ted Barrett. The Yankees struck out 14 times, half of them looking. Pettitte struck out eight of his own, and only one walk was issued all night - Johnny Damon in the first inning.

The White Sox drew first blood, as a two out double from Gordon Beckham in the third scored Chris Getz from first.

It remained that way until the sixth, as the Yankees used doubles from Jose Molina and Johnny Damon to tie the score. Damon reached second with just one out, but neither Mark Teixeira nor Alex Rodriguez could bring him home. The Yankees also squandered a Melky Cabrera leadoff double in the third, and a first and second two out opportunity for Teix in the eighth. It was just one of those nights.

The White Sox re-took the lead in the seventh, exploiting some sloppy Yankee defense. Jim Thome led off by tapping back to Pettitte, but Pettitte slipped on the slick field, allowing Thome to reach. After a Paul Konerko strikeout, A.J. Pierzynski reached on an IF single that A-Rod may or may not have been able to field cleanly. Carlos Quentin then bounced a potential inning ending double play ball to third, but a high, hard slide from Pierzynski forced Cano to throw away the relay, allowing Thome to score.

The Yanks did catch a bit of luck in the ninth. With no one on, two outs, and an 0-1 count against him, Nick Swisher knocked a game tying home run against his former team. It looked like the Yanks had a little magic going their way again, and it was assuredly gratifying for Swish to momentarily spoil victory for his former team, but it wasn't to last. In the bottom of the ninth Phil Hughes pitched into a two on, one out jam, before giving way to Phil Coke. Coke recorded the second out, bringing Dewayne Wise - hitting under .200 and in the game for defensive purposes - to the plate. Wise smoked a 2-2 liner up the middle, glancing off Coke's glove. Coke was maybe a half second away from sending the game to extras. Instead, his deflection eliminated what little chance Melky Cabrera had to gun down the speedy Scott Podsednik as the winning run.

These games will happen from time to time. Hughes had to give up a run sooner or later. Let's take solace in Pettitte's impressive performance and hope the Yanks can take at least two of the remaining three to salvage a split.

Big day tomorrow. We'll be back at it bright and early.

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