It could’ve gotten ugly.
But it didn’t.
And for White Sox fans who have witnessed all kinds of bad this season, it had to come as a pleasant surprise.
An inning after wriggling out of a bases-loaded jam, the White Sox opened the third by welcoming the Braves’ Martin Laird to first base thanks to a nubber between Adam Dunn and starting pitcher Jose Quintana that caused each a brain cramp for just a beat too long.
And it looked like more of the same old, same old when Baird won the race to the bag.
Quintana retired the next two batters, but then a walk put runners on first and second with all-star Freddie Freeman at the plate.
But that’s when the White Sox defense came alive.
Yes, the defense.
ŸFreeman singled to right, but Alex Rios came up firing to hold Laird at third.
ŸTyler Flowers followed by quietly blocking what might have been a wild pitch and a tie game.
ŸA few pitches later Jeff Keppinger dives to his left to snag a Brian McCann smash and with a toss to Dunn quashes yet another bases-loaded jam.
“It was incredible,” Quintana said. “These things, they don’t happen all the time. And the fact they happened today when I needed them … I got the help from some very good defense today.”
With timely pitching and hitting, to go with some sterling defense, the Sox out-Atlantaed Atlanta on Sunday for a 3-1 victory that gave them the series win over the Braves.
“I think that’s the one thing; you realize you can go through slumps defensively, but I see our team more like we played today than I do with what was happening in the first half,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
“There was a lot of little things that were good, that you like seeing and that you are able to capitalize on in certain situations and it becomes bigger later in the game.”
None bigger then Casper Wells leaping high over the yellow line along the wall in left field to snag what would surely would have been a game-tying, 2-run home run by Reed Johnson in the eighth inning.
“I didn’t know at first, I was just glad I caught it, you know,” a beaming Wells said. “And then I saw the replay and I was like, wow, you know, that was really special. I never did anything like that before.
And for a guy who came into Sunday’s game on an 0-for-10 streak at the plate, the web gem was just what the doctor ordered.
“I’ve been trying to do some things offensively to help the team, you know, kind of getting down on myself,” Wells admitted. “Any way I could boost the team up … that felt huge in that situation.”
If he hadn’t, it could’ve gotten ugly, but it didn’t.
“Everything is kind of coming together, our hitting, pitching — we’re doing things at the same time,” said Sox closer Addison Reed, who picked up save No. 25 Sunday. “At the beginning of the year we’d pitch well and the offense would struggle, or the offense would carry us and the pitching wouldn’t do so well.
“The last few games we’ve kind of put it all together.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.