Bullpen Causes Scare, but Rienzo, Offense Enough to Set Stage for Belisario Save

For the second night in a row, the White Sox were victorious by a 7-6 score. While some of you may have lost satellite reception due to the intense storms that hammered the Chicago area tonight (hope everyone’s OK out there), the Sox, once again, put us through an emotional roller coaster ride in this one. Let’s get to the key points of this win…

Offense Still Clicking Minus Abreu

When Jose Abreu was put on the disabled list on Sunday, Sox fans like myself feared for the worst. However, so far in this Kansas City series, the offense has picked up the slack in his absence.

The Sox built off last night’s seven-run, 11-hit barrage with another seven runs and 12 hits tonight. After Dayan Viciedo drove in a run on a base knock in the first, the Sox got to KC’s young fireballer Yordano Ventura for four more in the fifth behind a mammoth solo home run down the left field line from Tyler Flowers, an RBI single from Gordon Beckham, and a wild pitch. The Sox were able to propel themselves in the inning with patience, as while Ventura walk anyone in the game, he tossed three wild pitches in the fifth.

With Aaron Crow on the mound in the eighth, Adam Dunn deposited his seventh big fly of the year to dead center, giving the Sox plenty of breathing room with a 7-2 lead.

Even with Dunn’s home run, the stars of this game for the offense could be Beckham and Conor Gillaspie, who each recorded three hits and were a combined 6-for-9 with four runs scored on the day. Beckham now has a hit in 15 of 18 games this month, and Gillaspie has hit .382 (13-for-34) since returning from the disabled list on May 8.

Rienzo Continues to Deal

Based on the up-and-down nature of Andre Rienzo‘s starts last season, we weren’t sure what to expect when he was called-up last month. However, the Brazilian continues to put doubts to rest, moving his record to 4-0 on the year with his second straight quality start (six innings, two runs, five hits, two walks, eight strikeouts).

The team has now won in all six of Rienzo’s starts since his call-up. He’s been the beneficiary of a lot of run support thus far (33 runs), but his velocity is up a few ticks since last season (hit 93 on the gun tonight), his curveball is sharper, and he’s pitching with more confidence and command. Tonight was his third straight outing with two walks or less and fourth overall, which is something he did just three of his 10 starts in 2013.

Rienzo does not have the ceiling that profiles him as a top or even mid-rotation starter, but he has good enough stuff where if he throws strikes, he can stick as a fifth guy. All teams really ask of a fifth starter is to throw strikes and get the team to the sixth or seventh inning with a chance to win, which is exactly what Rienzo has done since arriving in Chicago. Because of that and his competitive spirit out there, I’m having a lot of fun watching this guy pitch.

Putnam, Alexei Bail Bullpen Out; Belisario Shuts the Door

Jake Petricka threw a solid seventh inning to lower his ERA to 1.78, but the eighth inning was an absolute adventure for the White Sox bullpen and Tyler Flowers. Scott Downs and Frank Francisco combined to face six batters in the inning, and five of them reached base (three hits, two walks). Flowers struggled blocking pitches, allowing two passed balls (one in the eighth, one in the ninth). The mess paved the way for a three-run frame for the Royals, vaulting them back into the ballgame.

Zach Putnam entered with one out in the eighth and runners on first and third. After getting Mike Moustakas to pop out, Alexei Ramirez made a sensational play in the hole at shortstop to rob Norichika Aoki of a hit, preserving the two-run lead for the Sox.

The closer question was answered, as Robin didn’t hesitate to go to Ronald Belisario in the ninth. After retiring the first two batters, Billy Butler hit a high fly ball to right, and since Moises Sierra (who entered on defense for Dayan Viciedo) was playing SUPER shallow, it fell in for a double. Butler then advanced to third base on a Flowers passed ball, and after an Alex Gordon RBI single and a steal from Jarrod Dyson, Belisario punched out Lorenzo Cain on three pitches to end it.

It was gut-wrenching just like every ninth inning has been this season, but Belisario looked solid. If Sierra isn’t positioned so shallow against a power hitter, it’s likely a 1-2-3 inning. Also, if Flowers catches a pitch down the middle to Gordon, Butler doesn’t advance to third and probably does not score on Gordon’s base hit. Belisario is going to get an extended look at closing, and he didn’t do anything tonight to give me any lack of confidence that he can handle it.


About lukestanczyk

Broadcaster for BenU Sports in Lisle, Illinois as well as a Sports Information jack-of-all-trades for the Athletic Department, baseball ADDICT who played one year in college and still plays in two men's leagues in the Chicagoland area, spent my early childhood living minutes away from The Cell, parents met through the Sox Supporters group in the left field bleachers in the 70s. Yeah, White Sox baseball is in my blood.