Chicago drops first of two with Toronto
White Sox lineup unable to come up with hits at clutch times
CHICAGO -- A rarity took place following the Blue Jays' 3-1 victory over the White Sox in the afternoon portion of Tuesday's split doubleheader played at U.S. Cellular Field.
Ozzie Guillen, who never met a reporter's notebook he couldn't fill with highly entertaining and astute quotes or an interview he thought for a second about shying away from, chose not to speak about his team's second straight setback. No reason was given, other than the White Sox manager would talk with the media after Tuesday's nightcap.
The rare silence from Guillen might have served as an official cooling off period, coming on the heels of an especially frustrating defeat in the heat of battle with the Twins for the American League Central title.
Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett (17-10) didn't give the White Sox (80-63) many opportunities during the makeup of Monday's postponed contest.
And when the White Sox did have a chance to score, they didn't execute. It all added up to a ninth straight victory for the surging Blue Jays (77-66) and a 5-0 record for Toronto against Chicago in 2008. The Jays have outscored the Sox by a 15-6 margin this season and held them to a .118 average and fewer than three runs scored in every game.
"It has been a challenge against these guys," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. "We haven't won a game against them, and they always seem to pitch really well against us."
"We had some opportunities throughout that game," Chicago left fielder Nick Swisher added. "We just couldn't pull through when we needed it the most."
Although the White Sox managed just two singles in the game, and one of the questionable variety, they had scoring chances, as Swisher mentioned. The first two men reached base in the third inning, only to have Juan Uribe miss on a sacrifice-bunt attempt and eventually strike out. Burnett emerged unscathed by striking out Orlando Cabrera and retiring Pierzynski on a ground ball to shortstop John McDonald.
Cabrera led off the sixth with the team's first hit off Burnett, but he was forced out at second when Pierzynski tried to bunt for a hit. Cabrera walked to open the eighth, but he once again was forced out when reliever Scott Downs pounced on Pierzynski's sacrifice attempt and fired a strike to second.
"I pride myself on being able to get that bunt down," a frustrated Pierzynski said. "When I bunted it, I thought it was a pretty good bunt, and the guy made a great play. He got off the mound pretty fast, and if I'm catching, I'm calling, 'One, one, one.' He made a great play, so tip your hat to that guy."
Jermaine Dye followed with a single to center, which might have scored the tying run. But Jim Thome's double play ended the inning. Toronto closer B.J. Ryan (28th save) walked Paul Konerko and Ken Griffey Jr. to open the ninth, but Alexei Ramirez missed on a one-strike bunt attempt and eventually struck out. Swisher struck out looking, and Uribe grounded out to Ryan to end the game.
White Sox starter Javier Vazquez dropped to 11-13 despite allowing two runs on five hits over six innings.
"We can't get too down," Pierzynski said. "We have another game to play [today] and 19 more the rest of the season, so we'll try to win all of those. But it's frustrating because we had a couple of chances. Things happen, and you have to move on."
"There are little parts that add up to a loss or a win," Konerko added. "We were knocking on the door all day; we just couldn't get it done. It's frustrating, but we've go to put it behind us."
Dye's single avoided a mini controversy involving the call on Cabrera's sixth-inning single. That could have been ruled an error, as it hopped over the glove of third baseman Scott Rolen. The Blue Jays seemed to support the call.
"On turf, Rolen probably catches that ball," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "But it was hit pretty hard. I would say it was a hit. A few other guys had some bad hops out there today."
Guillen probably would have weighed in on this somewhat controversial matter. That particular analysis will have to wait until the nightcap has come to a close.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.