White Sox Beat Rangers
By Kevin Druley, The Sports Xchange
CHICAGO — Forget for a moment the time-honored cliche that holds that hitting is contagious.
Chicago White Sox reliever Tommy Kahnle thinks the adage can apply to pitchers, too.
Kahnle comprised the middle leg of a resilient bullpen relay on Sunday afternoon, helping keep the White Sox afloat between early defensive struggles and late heroics from second baseman Yolmer Sanchez.
While Sanchez’s two-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning provided the go-ahead runs in Chicago’s 6-5 win over the Texas Rangers, the relief corps put the White Sox in striking distance.
Right-handers Anthony Swarzak, Kahnle and David Robertson combined on 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief of staff ace Jose Quintana, scattering three hits, seven strikeouts and one intentional walk.
“Once everybody is on a roll, there’s no telling how good we’re going to be to pitch the rest of the way,” Kahnle said. “But I feel like it’s definitely contagious if we feed off of each other.”
Chicago (36-45) overcame four errors that contributed to Texas wiping out a 4-1 deficit after three innings. Designated hitter Jonathan Lucroy’s soft two-run single in the fifth inning gave the Rangers (40-42) a 5-4 lead.
Tyson Ross buoyed Texas with five innings of four-run ball, spacing four hits, five walks and three strikeouts. The Rangers walked seven batters in the game.
Relievers Ernesto Frieri and Matt Bush worked scoreless innings before Chicago capitalized against right-hander Jose Leclerc (1-2).
Sanchez said he knew he made contact with the barrel of the bat when he connected with Leclerc’s 1-2 slider. The ball landed in the right-field stands, delighting most in a crowd of 26,206 that saw the White Sox win the rubber match of a three-game weekend series.
“We never quit,” Sanchez said through a team interpreter. “We never quit, and we try to fight every single inning. It doesn’t matter the run differential in that particular moment in the game.”
Texas snapped Quintana’s scoreless-innings streak at 19 2/3 innings with an unearned run in the third inning.
Successive White Sox errors — from first baseman Todd Frazier and Sanchez — and an infield single from Shin-Soo Choo loaded the bases for Elvis Andrus.
Andrus hit a grounder to third baseman Matt Davidson, who threw to Sanchez to force Choo at second base. But Sanchez was unable to throw to first base, the result of runner’s interference on Choo, umpires initially ruled.
Texas won a replay challenge to overturn the call, however, transforming an inning-ending double play to an RBI groundout for Andrus.
Quintana threw 27 of his 96 pitches in the inning. He spaced five runs (three earned), six hits, five strikeouts and two walks in 4 1/3 innings. He allowed a solo home run to Mike Napoli leading off the fourth.
“Quintana has been a premium pitcher in this league for a couple years now,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “Even though we were able to scratch some runs across the board, we did have some opportunities.”
The White Sox built confidence after stifling the Rangers’ scoring chances.
“Whatever we screwed up for the first four or five innings, the reality is we play nine innings, and you start to try to make adjustments,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said.
Although the Rangers have had a winning record just three times in the past 38 days and have not been less than 10 games behind first-place Houston since May 26, optimism still is prevalent at the season’s midpoint. Referencing the bullpen, Banister said, “We’re going to continue to find guys.”
Texas trailed Houston by seven games in early July 2015 before ultimately rallying to win the American League West.
“There’s still a lot of games left,” Choo said. “In 2015, we were in the same situation with Houston. They were a lot of games ahead of us and we caught them. Now they’re ahead of us, so we have to catch up. But if we just play the right baseball, if we take care of just us, we know we’ll be in a good position.”
Andrus and Choo had two hits apiece for the Rangers. Melky Cabrera opened the scoring in the first inning for the White Sox, hitting a solo home run.
Robertson (4-2) pitched the final 1 2/3 innings, scattering two hits and two strikeouts. Robertson fanned Carlos Gomez swinging with the bases loaded to end the game after the White Sox intentionally walked Adrian Beltre.
White Sox catcher Kevan Smith corralled a dropped third strike to end the game, diving back to home plate. The ensuing celebration in the White Sox dugout also was infectious.
“I was right at the top step watching,” Kahnle said. “It was pretty funny because you hardly ever see a game end that way.”