Tuesday, June 21, 2016

White Sox squelch late jam, crush 2B in 10th for W

 Jose Abreu pummeled a 99-mph offering from closer Craig Kimbrel into the gap in right-center for a two-out, two-run double that led the White Sox to a 3-1 victory over the Red Sox in 10 innings on Monday night at Fenway Park.
"During the whole at-bat, I was trying to find his fastball, because I know that he's a very good fastball thrower," Abreu said through an interpreter. "I was trying not to swing at a bad pitch, especially his curveball, because I know that he throws the curveball down in the dirt. And I was able to battle. At the end, I found the fastball to put the barrel to the ball and get a base hit."
The clutch hit -- with an exit velocity of 106 mph -- came just after Boston had squandered a bases-loaded, nobody-out opportunity in the bottom of the ninth. The key play was with one out when the White Sox brought right fielder Tyler Saladino into the middle of the infield, and he fielded a grounder by Christian Vazquez and fired home, where catcher Alex Avila made a nice pick and stretch to cut down the winning run.
"Trying to go to the middle, fly ball to get the run scored," said Vazquez. "I need to get the ball up next time."
Zach Putnam walked three straight batters to open the inning, and lefty Zach Duke got him out of the mess by retiring three straight, starting with a strikeout of pinch-hitter Dustin Pedroia.
Once again, knuckleballer Steven Wright was marvelous for the Red Sox. Over nine innings, the righty gave up five hits and one unearned run, walking three, striking out six and lowering his league-leading ERA to 2.01.
White Sox right-hander Miguel Gonzalez fired 6 2/3 strong innings, allowing four hits and a run while walking two and striking out five.
Avila avoids walk-off: With the bases loaded and one out and Vazquez batting, Avila saved a walk-off run from touching the plate. Vazquez hit a ground ball to short, and Saladino threw off-balance to home. Avila stretched forward to grab the catch, while extending his foot back to home plate to get the second out of the inning.
"That throw, for a catcher to pick that, I know he's played some first base. But to do it with men on, game's on the line. Good play all around," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. More >
Wright escapes jam in ninth: Not only did Wright go nine innings for the third time this season, but he wiggled out of a jam in the ninth. Instead of going to the bullpen with two on and one out, manager John Farrell stuck with his starter. Wright got Brett Lawrie on a 68-mph knuckleball and then induced Avila into a grounder to second to get out of it.
"I really just try to breathe," said Wright. "That's the biggest thing. Sometimes the game speeds up on you a little bit. In a situation like that, I've got to stay with my strengths, which is to stay under control and try to put myself in a position to throw a quality pitch."
Gonzalez bounces back: After pitching his shortest start of the season against Detroit and coming out of the game allowing seven runs over 3 1/3 innings, Gonzalez held the Red Sox to just two hits with no walks until the seventh inning on Monday.
"Miggy was great," Ventura said. "With a lineup like this, and the way they're swinging it and the way they've been hitting, for him to come in, I thought he was great. Throwing strikes and pretty much kept them off-balance. I mean nobody really got into anything, and I think that's the impressive part of him going through it."
Kimbrel struggling in non-saves: There has been a marked difference this season for Craig Kimbrel in save vs. non-save situations. In save situations, the closer has a 1.53 ERA and two walks while striking out 27 over 17 2/3 innings. In non-save situations, he has 4.35 ERA in 10 1/3 innings while walking seven.
"I feel comfortable on the mound. It doesn't matter what the situation is, I've still got to get outs," Kimbrel said. More >
The Red Sox have been struggling with runners in scoring position of late, going 10-for-69 over the last eight games.
In the ninth inning with one out, the Red Sox challenged a hesitant throw to first by Monday's second baseman Marco Hernandez, as Pedroia had the day off. White Sox left fielder Melky Cabrera hit a textbook ground ball to Hernandez and beat the throw to the bag. After a 46-second official replay review, the call was confirmed and Boston lost its challenge.
White Sox: Left-handed ace Chris Sale (11-2, 2.94 ERA) will make his 15th start of the season and fifth of his career against Boston. Sale became the first pitcher in the Major Leagues to reach 11 wins this season during his last start against Detroit. He allowed three runs on six hits with seven strikeouts over seven innings pitched.
Red Sox: Right-hander Clay Buchholz (3-6, 5.86 ERA) makes his return to the rotation on Tuesday. Buchholz was moved to the bullpen on May 27, but now he looks forward to having a chance to return to his preferred role of starting.

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