CHICAGO | The fumbling, bumbling 99-loss White Sox of 2013 might have lost Wednesday’s game four times over last season.
“Yes … well put, well put,” Sox manager Robin Ventura dryly responded when asked if their 7-6, 11th-inning victory over the Minnesota Twins on a manufactured run had the feel of a defeat a year ago.
Instead, as the temperature dropped to 32 degrees in the late afternoon and the tiny crowd announced at 10,625 grew even smaller, the Sox overcame a seventh-inning bullpen meltdown to manufacture the winning run in the 11th.
A perfect Leury Garcia bunt down the third-base line on an 0-2 pitch by Twins reliever Samuel Deduno kicked off the 11th with both teams running out of available players.
Garcia then moved all the way around via a balk and two wild pitches, the last on a ball-four pitch to Adam Dunn. The Sox are now 2-0 and re-confirmed their good clubhouse feeling generated by their Opening Day victory.
That journey capped another entertaining day featuring Paul Konerko, in his first at-bat of 2014, collecting a pinch-hit single that sprouted into one of a pair of game-tying ninth-inning runs via a Garcia single to left. And for good measure, the Sox experienced the wrong side of the first video replay challenge in which they were involved.
Garcia made the most of his start at second base as Marcus Semien moved over to third to fill in for an ill Conor Gillaspie.
“You got to work on it,” Garcia said of bunting down in the count. “That was the perfect time to do it. That was me (acting on it). You got to get on base … It was cold, but you got to play and have the best effort you can.”
“He handles the bat well,” Ventura said.
Garcia’s bunt rolled dead right down the third-base line, carefully manicured by “Sodfather” Sox groundskeeper Roger Bossard, a South Holland native.
“We’re South Siders,” said leadoff man Adam Eaton. “We’re grinders. Any, way, shape or form we get the job done. We’ll take the (wild pitch) any week. We can battle back. Roger and I have become good friends in the last two days. Our friendship continues blossoming with that bunt. We’ll take it.”
Konerko did not try to overanalyze his first pinch-hitting gig, a job its practitioners said is far more difficult due to the pressure involved and coming off the bench cold.
“I felt OK,” Konerko said. “I just wanted to be aggressive, and not just go up there free-swinging, but try to make a decision on a pitch. Don’t be tentative, either … There’s a right way to get ready during the game for that kind of stuff.
“Just trying to get comfortable with that. It will take a little time. At the end of the day, I’ve had a million at-bats. You get in the box and get after it.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire used his guaranteed replay chance to get Oswaldo Garcia’s fly-ball out to center fielder Eaton, amid a three-run Twins seventh, overturned to an error on the video review. The New York-based reviewers ruled Eaton dropped the ball for an error as he began to transfer it from his glove to his hand.
“He had bobbled it enough to rule no catch,” Ventura said.