BALTIMORE -- It was the kind of game that illustrates why the White Sox want one more power threat in the center of their lineup.
The resurgent Baltimore Orioles, under new manager Buck Showalter, won their fourth consecutive game, this one a 2-1 victory over the White Sox in 10 innings Friday.
A White Sox club that delivered a punch to the gut of the Detroit Tigers, were similarly struck back in the opener of a four-game series at Camden Yards by the team with the worst winning percentage in baseball.
Mark Kotsay hit the ball hard for a second consecutive day, but his base running mistake in the seventh inning ended up being costly. It’s been such a tough season for Thursday’s hero that even when things look like they are improving, he can’t catch a break.
The irony here is that even though Kotsay looks to be locked in at the plate, if nobody around him is hitting, it could cost him his job anyway.
He said instinct took over after his one-out triple in the seventh inning. (He also doubled in the fourth.) On a slow roller toward first base by Alexei Ramirez, Kotsay broke toward the plate, even though the plan was to do otherwise.
“The play was to have the ball go through, but in that situation when you have a ball that’s cued, your instincts just take over and you think you can make it,” Kotsay said. “Obviously, he [Ty Wigginton] made a good bare-handed play and the throw was on target so you tip your cap to him.”
On a night when the White Sox had good pitching -- save Chris Sale’s rough major-league debut –- and some solid hitting from Kotsay and Gordon Beckham (home run and a double), nobody was able to deliver that knockout punch.
The team’s desire to add a run producer doesn’t figure to go away just because the White Sox have been winning more than they have been losing these days. It won’t stop just because they still have a 1 1/2-game lead in the division, thanks to a Minnesota Twins' defeat.
“I think they pitched the ball very well,” manager Ozzie Guillen said of the Orioles. “We couldn’t get anything done all night long, I mean no excitement. We had a chance, maybe we had a shot once with Ramirez and [Kotsay] on third base and one out. After that, they really shut us out.’’
With Carlos Delgado apparently going to the Red Sox, one more slugging option has been exhausted. As more players clear waivers in the coming weeks, general manager Ken Williams might have a better picture as to whom to pursue.
As for Sale, the day he has waited for is now one he would just as soon forget. Pitching in the eighth inning of a game tied 1-1, he walked the first batter he faced, Brian Roberts, on four pitches. Nick Markakis then singled and Tony Pena came on to get out of that jam. Pena ended up losing the game on Adam Jones’ single in the 10th.
“Bad,” Sale said. “I just went out there and I was hyped up. I wanted to do well, but I didn’t have any feel. I just didn’t show up. I walked a guy, made a bad pitch 0-2. You can’t do that here. You are not going to get results doing that ever.
“I have to get more prepared for the next time and take it as a learning experience.”
Guillen said he wasn’t afraid to use Sale in a tight spot and was true to his word. He now claims he’d do it again if the occasion arises.
“I feel worse than anybody going out there and doing what I did,” said Sale, who sat facing his locker after the game, with his head down. “It was a close game and I just didn’t have it. For [Guillen] to say that stuff, it’s reassuring. It still doesn’t hide the fact I went out there and had a bad day. But tomorrow when I show up, it will be a little less pressure to pitch.”
By the numbers
120: A season high in pitches for John Danks, while giving up one run on six hits over seven innings Friday. Danks got a no-decision for just the third time this season and the first time since May 1 against the Yankees. He has pitched into the seventh inning in four consecutive starts.
“I don’t blame him for being out there, I blame the umpire for letting him be out there that long. He’s got a job to do.’’ – Guillen, on Showalter’s lengthy argument in the seventh inning with first-base umpire Jerry Crawford, after Carlos Quentin was ruled to have caught Felix Pie’s sinking line drive. Replays showed it wasn’t a catch. Guillen’s primary concern was that Danks had to wait out the argument on the mound. Crawford also blew a call in the fifth inning when the Orioles’ Brian Roberts was called safe at first.
The White Sox’s Gavin Floyd (7-8, 3.54) continues to search for a .500 record despite having the best July of any pitcher in baseball. Floyd won the AL pitcher of the month award for going 3-1 in July with a 0.80 ERA. The graduate of Baltimore’s Mount St. Joseph High School is 1-1 lifetime against the Orioles with a 2.53 ERA and a .171 batting average against.
Floyd will be opposed by the Orioles’ Kevin Millwood (2-11, 6.05), who is not only getting no run support this year but hasn’t gotten much against the White Sox in his career. The right-hander is 1-5 against the White Sox lifetime despite a 3.30 ERA. His team is just 2-8 against the White Sox despite seven quality starts.