White Sox end streak with a giant leap
Chicago had dropped last 12 games to AL Central opponents
CHICAGO -- Give the White Sox credit for keeping a good sense of humor about themselves during a 2013 season that hasn't delivered a lot of laughs.
Holding a one-run lead in the ninth inning of Saturday's 5-4 victory over the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field with nobody on base and two outs, Oswaldo Arcia drove a 0-1 fastball from closer Addison Reed that had all the makings of a home run to left-center.
That's how this current campaign has gone for the White Sox (44-71): make one mistake and pay for it with an eventual loss. But the winds of good fortune were with them on Saturday evening, as Alejandro De Aza made a leaping catch in front of the wall to prevent an extra-base hit, if not Arcia's fourth homer of the series.
Reed (28th save) and catcher Tyler Flowers could be seen laughing in near disbelief as they celebrated the team's fourth win in six games.
"He did exactly what I wanted him to do," said Reed, entering sarcasm mode. "I wanted him to hit it hard at De Aza and have De Aza make a great play. And that happened. So everything worked out perfect, just as I planned.
"A win is a win," he said in a more serious tone. "It doesn't matter how you do it."
Andre Rienzo didn't pick up his first Major League win for the White Sox, but battled through control issues to keep the team close. In 5 1/3 innings, Rienzo yielded four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and five walks.
His high energy manifested itself throughout his 112 pitches, with the rookie shaking hands with each defensive player in front of the dugout at the end of innings, and stopping to talk to first baseman Paul Konerko after a routine groundout. Rienzo was even more entertaining postgame.
When asked about the abundance of free passes, Rienzo was succinct with his analysis.
"Bad. It's bad," Rienzo said. "Seriously. It's really bad. Bad games make you work harder for the next time, and that game there will for sure make me work harder for the next one."
There also was a surprise visit from one of his brothers, which Rienzo addressed after his third straight no-decision.
"I didn't know he was here," Rienzo said. "The security just came out and said I had some guy who wanted to talk to me from Brazil. I said 'OK.' ... I go, it was my brother, and I said 'Hey!' It's crazy."
Before 24,529 fans, Minnesota's five-game winning streak over the White Sox came to an end and the same was true for Chicago's 12-game losing streak within the American League Central. It was a come-from-behind effort, although the White Sox did hold a three-run advantage after two innings courtesy of Konerko's sacrifice fly, Jordan Danks' second homer and a fielding error by Minnesota right fielder Chris Colabello.
And it was Avisail Garcia who started the game-winning rally in the sixth, making his first start as a member of the White Sox.
Garcia singled to center off Minnesota starter Mike Pelfrey (4-10), after going 0-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch in his first four plate appearances Friday and Saturday. Pelfrey walked Danks, and Josh Phegley advanced both runners with a perfect sacrifice bunt off reliever Anthony Swarzak.
Blake Tekotte's sacrifice fly scored Garcia, and after Arcia couldn't come up with Conor Gillaspie's sinking liner to left, Danks raced home on the single. The rally made a winner of southpaw David Purcey (1-1), who replaced Rienzo with runners on first and third and one out in the sixth, but struck out Joe Mauer and retired Justin Morneau on a comebacker to end the threat.
It was the first win of what the White Sox hope are many victories that feature Garcia's contributions.
"I'm relaxed a little bit more. I just try to play hard and do the right thing to help my team win," Garcia said. "I got a base hit, but just got to keep playing and see what happens."
Morneau's three-run jack and Arcia's solo shot in the third marked the first two homers allowed by Rienzo and gave the Twins (51-63) a 4-3 lead they carried into the sixth. Nate Jones' four strikeouts over five batters in the seventh and eighth helped preserve the White Sox's slim advantage once they regained control, and despite one nerve-wracking moment, Reed closed it out.
"I don't know how many strikeouts again, and I don't know how many times we left people out there in scoring position, but I know it was an awful lot," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
As De Aza hauled in Arcia's drive, the White Sox were able to do something they haven't done for most of '13: They collectively smiled and joked about the escape. Second baseman Gordon Beckham described holding his breath until the fly ball landed.
"Yeah, to say the least," said Beckham, who walked four times and scored twice out of the leadoff spot. "I thought about crying. If that ball had gone over, I would have."
"Hopefully, it gets a little spark in us," Reed said. "Hopefully it starts a little winning streak."