July 4: White Sox 3 Orioles 2

Even though it was an afternoon game, Adam Dunn gave White Sox fans some fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Dunn hit a walk-off home run with the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the Sox a home series victory over a very good Baltimore Orioles squad. It’s the first time the Sox won a series at home since sweeping the Miami Marlins in late May.

Dunn Comes Through

It was another typical White Sox offense type of day: just six hits and only one walk.

That was until Adam Dunn stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth. With the bases empty, the big man picked up his third hit on the day in walk-off fashion, a bomb to left-center field to win the game 3-2.

We’ve talked in this blog how Dunn is a better hitter when he looks opposite field, and today was proof of that. Not only did he homer in that direction, but he also singled to the left side in the sixth inning right where the shortstop would normally be if the shift was not on, which scored Alex Rios from second and gave the Sox a 2-0 lead.

Also in the sixth, Alexei Ramirez doubled down the left field line to start the inning, and then Alex Rios doubled right through the wickets of O’s starter Zach Britton to take a 1-0 lead. Rios moved into second base after center fielder Adam Jones tried to gun down Ramirez at home, representing one of the few times all season long we’ve actually seen a smart base running play by the White Sox!

Quintana’s Terrific Start

Hawk Harrelson said during today’s broadcast that if Jose Quintana didn’t have any bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all. Well, that bad luck continued, as Q picked up his seventh straight no decision despite flat-out dominating Baltimore’s hitters. He’s still 3-2 on the season despite leaving the game with the lead six times. It's also already the fifth time in Quintana's young career that he's gone at least seven scoreless innings and pick up a no decision.

We’ve seen Q have some fantastic starts in his two years with the club, but today’s outing may have been his greatest. He set a career high in strikeouts with 11 while allowing just two hits and no runs in seven innings. He made probable all-stars Chris Davis and JJ Hardy look silly, and his increase in velocity is a testament to how hard he worked in the off-season. We heard in Spring Training how much Q worked on his craft before reporting to camp, and just by how his stuff looks, those probably weren’t lies.

Crain’s Absence Felt Immediately

With Jose Quintana at 112 pitches through seven, Robin Ventura elected to bring in Nate Jones to pitch the eighth. Normally, this would be Jesse Crain’s inning of work, but with Crain added to the disabled list yesterday, Nate Jones received the call.

Jones couldn’t keep that bridge to Addison Reed solid the way Crain did, as he allowed two runs in the eighth. With the Sox up 2-0, he walked Brian Roberts to start the inning, and Nate McLouth followed with a double to right that moved Roberts to third. After Gordon Beckham made a terrific play on a line drive to rob Chris Dickerson of two RBI, Matt Wieters hit a ground ball to Adam Dunn at first that he couldn’t corral that made the game 2-1. Nick Markakis followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game, and Manny Machado struck out on a high fastball to end the inning.

Because of the Dunn error, only one of the two runs Jones allowed was earned. However, we’ve seen Jesse Crain pitch over his defense’s mistakes time and time again, and that’s something Jones could not do today. With Crain out for a while, Jones is still the most likely guy to get the call in these situations, so hopefully this is a one-time thing for #65.

Another Walk-Off Fourth of July

Dunn's bomb today made it the third straight season the Sox won via the walk-off varitey on the Fourth of July. Last season, the newly acquired Kevin Youkilis singled in Alejandro De Aza in the bottom of the 10th to beat the Texas Rangers. Back in 2011, the Sox won on a walk-off balk by Kansas City Royals pitcher Aaron Crow.

White Sox Head South

Tomorrow night, the Sox will begin a three-game set in the Sunshine state against the Tampa Bay Rays. Dylan Axelrod will oppose Jeremy Hellickson on Friday night, Chris Sale and Matt Moore,(a rematch of last year’s Chris Sale 15 strikeout game) will square off in a nationally televised game on Saturday, and John Danks will face David Price on Sunday. Grab Some Bench will have a series preview plus game recaps for all three games down South

From everyone here at Grab Some Bench, have a safe and fun Fourth of July!