White Sox misery mounts in late-inning collapse
Bullpen gives up six runs in ninth before Detroit pulls out win in 12th
DETROIT -- If the White Sox season was bad before, it's worse now. The club's latest letdown involved giving up a six-run lead in the ninth inning and spoiling another strong performance by Chris Sale in a 7-6, 12-inning loss to the Tigers on Saturday night at Comerica Park.
It's the first time in franchise history the White Sox had a lead of six runs or more in the ninth inning or later and ended up losing the game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"Just when you thought you've seen it all, you get to see something else," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
With the bases loaded in the 12th through three walks, Omar Infante hit a walkoff single that bounced off reliever Jake Petricka's glove, scoring Don Kelly.
The White Sox were up, 6-0, before Detroit scored five runs on five consecutive hits in the ninth against Nate Jones, punctuated by a three-run pinch-hit home run by Andy Dirks to cut the lead to one. Addison Reed replaced Jones and walked three batters before Torii Hunter's sacrifice fly tied the game at 6.
"They were swinging early and often, and I just wasn't making the pitches." Jones said. "It was a bad night all around."
Said Dirks: "It's better to be aggressive off the bench usually. If it's around the zone, you have to take a whack at it because you haven't seen a pitch yet and you're facing the bullpen guys and they're usually pretty good. I think if something's in the zone, you have to take a hack at it."
The comeback ruined Sale's latest gem, as he puzzled the Tigers but took a no-decision. Sale struck out seven over 7 2/3 shutout innings, giving up just four hits and walking one.
"Anytime he leaves the game, everybody usually gets pretty happy, because he's one of those pitchers that he's been pretty dominant all year," Dirks said. "He's got great stuff. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to a guy when he's throwing the pitches that he does and you're not scoring runs."
Sale's seven strikeouts pushed his total to 221, surpassing Gary Peters for the most single-season strikeouts in franchise history by a left-handed pitcher. He only trails Ed Walsh, who recorded four seasons with at least 254 strikeouts before 1912.
"It's cool," said Sale, who kept one of the game balls. "It's something that I can talk about with my friends and family in the offseason. For me anyways, I don't play for records or this and that. I just go out there and do my job. I guess that's just something that kind of falls into it sometimes."
While Sale is near the bottom of the league in receiving run support, that wasn't a problem on Saturday.
In the seventh inning, Jeff Keppinger drilled a two-out double to the wall in left-center to score Avisail Garcia, who reached on a single. Keppinger scored on a single to right by Gordon Beckham, putting the White Sox up 2-0.
Paul Konerko gave Chicago a 3-0 lead in the eighth inning when he scored Marcus Semien with a single to center. In the top of the ninth, Bryan Anderson's first hit of the season was a two-run double, scoring Jordan Danks and Beckham. Semien pushed Anderson home on a ground-rule double to right, and the White Sox went up 6-0.
However, the American League Central-leading Tigers showed their powerful offense against the White Sox bullpen.
"They kept battling, good at-bat after good at-bat." Ventura said. "We have our guys that you trust going out there, and they just didn't get it done."
It's been an all-too-familiar tune for Sale, as it was the fifth time this season that Sale has pitched at least seven innings and given up fewer than three runs in a no-decision.
"I'm not the first to say it, the hardest three outs are the last three to get and I've been there before," Sale said. "It's tough.
"Any time you lose like that or close ballgames or whatnot, it's always tough coming in extra innings. So much time and effort goes into it. I just try to stay positive."