White Sox Down Mets in Wild Finish
Zack Wheeler’s much-anticipated second start for the Mets in Chicago last night was mostly a non-event, until the ninth inning. The heralded rookie right-hander once again struggled with his control as the White Sox touched him up for four runs in a little over five innings work. Wheeler walked three and struck out one, leaving the game on the hook for his first professional loss. His counterpart, Chris Sale, had a hell of a game, striking out 13 over eight and in position to even his season record at 6-6. But, as they often do, funny things started happening in that final frame.
It all started innocently enough with White Sox skipper Robin Ventura going to his closer, Addison Reed, to lock down the 4-3 win. Aside from Reed being the closer it made sense to have a righty go against David Wright, the Mets’ best hitter, who was leading off the inning. But so much for strategy as Wright singled to center and promptly stole second. There were seven steals (four for the Mets and three for the Sox) in a game that seemed ripped from the late ’70s. But Reed quickly recovered, getting Marlon Byrd on strikes and Josh Satin on a harmless fly to center. With two outs Daniel Murphy then skied a game-ending infield pop-up “a mile high” according to Mets’ announcer Gary Cohen. As third baseman Conor Gillaspie came in to settle under it, second basemen Gordon Beckham came charging out of nowhere and ran into his teammate as the ball miraculously found its way to the field in fair territory. Wright who ran hard all the way scored the tying run, taking Wheeler off the hook and a sure win away from Sale. As Andrew Brown struck out to end the inning the Mets most likely could not believe their good fortune, but it would be short-lived.
In the bottom of the ninth, Mets reliever LaTroy Hawkins gave up a leadoff infield single to Jeff Keppinger who was then sacrificed over by the aforementioned Crash Beckham-an error by Hawkins leaving Beckham safe at first as well. Tyler Flowers followed with a fielder’s choice that left Keppinger on third with only one out. Alejandro De Aza seemed in perfect position to win the game but instead turned in a terrible at-bat, fouling out to third. Hawkins looked to be out of trouble, which was a bona fide curse in this game. Sure enough, shortstop Alexei Ramirez stepped to the plate with two outs and promptly laced one inside the leftfield line to win it in walk-off fashion 5-4.
In all, it was a pretty entertaining game between two teams that have a lot in common. Both are struggling this year, but each have some exciting young players to build around. Though I had tuned in mainly to watch Wheeler, it was Chris Sale who really impressed on this night. Hopefully both the Mets and the Sox have brighter days ahead.