Between the White Sox's ninth-inning comeback, Kevin Jepsen's hilarious intentional walk effort, and Paul Konerko's unbelievable showing of athleticism, Wednesday night's Sox/Angels contest was the most fun game the Sox have played all year.
Oh yeah, and the Sox won their second straight series with a 6-4 win in 10 innings over Los Angeles. This game was supposed to be about Jake Peavy's return to the starting rotation, but the Sox comeback and subsequent win stole the show.
Peavy threw six innings, allowing four runs (two of which scored thanks to Juan Pierre's gaffe in the second) while walking none with four strikeouts. All in all, it was an encouraging outing for Peavy. He didn't have his good slider, but his changeup was very good to act as a nice secondary pitch.
The White Sox looked to be doomed to a loss, though, as the offense struggled to support Peavy & Co. through the first eight innings. The Sox looked to mount a rally in the eighth, but it was squelched with the Sox scoring just one run when Alexei Ramirez was rightly called for interference on a stolen base attempt by Omar Vizquel.
But Angels closer Jordan Walden had the worst outing of his young career. Walden, who had only allowed multiple runs once in his entire 33-game career, couldn't find the strike zone and allowed the Sox an opportunity for a comeback. The Sox pounced, drawing two walks and picking up two hits en route to scoring twice to tie the game. After Sergio Santos closed the door on his second shutout inning of work—by the way, *great* managing by Ozzie Guillen to bring him in for the eighth and leave him out for the ninth—the Angels countered with Kevin Jepsen for the 10th.
With Alexei Ramirez and Adam Dunn on third and second, Jepsen was instructed to intentionally walk Konerko. The first pitch he threw sailed about five feet over catcher Hank Conger's head, allowing Ramirez to score maybe the most hilarious go-ahead run I've ever seen. After walking, Konerko then stole second base, although that was just the beginning of a day usually reserved for somebody generally regarded as athletic.
With one out and Matt Thornton looking for his first save of the season, Konerko leaped as high as I've ever see him jump to rob noted pest Maicer Izturis of at least a single. And then, Torii Hunter (who, by the way, has the best at-bat music in baseball) laid down a bunt, trying to catch the Sox off guard. What followed caught the Sox off-guard, but not the way Hunter expected.
Just watch the video if you haven't seen it already. MLB.com doesn't have a link yet, but I'm sure you won't have to try very hard to find it. What Konerko did was probably the best defensive play of his career—when you watch the video of Konerko's behind-the-back feed, it doesn't look like Thornton expected the ball to be in his hands. When Konerko flipped him the ball, then Thornton had to unexpectedly sprint to first base.
How freakin' nice is it for Thornton to get some good defense behind him, by the way? Hopefully nailing down this save will put all of his April misadventures behind him.
One other note, which I'm sure Jim will comment on in his recap at South Side Sox: Ozzie Guillen couldn't have managed this game better, while Mike Scioscia maybe couldn't have managed it worse. A lot of managers wouldn't have brought their closer in to a game down two in the eighth. I understand Santos isn't officially the closer, but he's the team's best reliever and the Sox needed to keep the Angels off the board in the bottom of the eighth. Maybe Guillen sensed a rally coming with the Sox's performance in the eighth. Whatever the reason, it was the perfect use of Santos.
Meanwhile, Scioscia didn't have Reggie Willits pull a straight steal after he kicked off the ninth inning with a leadoff walk. Instead, he had Peter Bourjos look to lay down a bunt—of note, with Bourjos' speed, there's no such thing as a sacrifice bunt, because that implies Bourjos would be out. But even then, having Bourjos lay down a bunt without trying to steal with Willits was an example of poor managing.
Twenty of 21 runners have successfully stolen second base on A.J. Pierzynski, three successes of which came Wednesday. Santos isn't exactly quick to the plate. And Willits, despite being caught four times with only two steals last season, is generally regarded as a speedy guy. If Willits steals second, then you could have Bourjos try to bunt, which would put the game-winning run on third. Instead, Willits stayed put at first and Bourjos failed a few bunt attempts before popping out. That's bad. Real bad.