CHICAGO -- The White Sox walked off with a 5-4 Interleague victory over the Mets Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field, courtesy of Alexei Ramirez's game-winning, two-out single against reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
So, why did the postgame clubhouse have such a subdued feeling on the winner's side? Clearly it was because of the latest round of defensive misery by the White Sox (32-42) in the top of the frame.
With David Wright on second and two outs, closer Addison Reed (3-0) induced a first-pitch, routine popup from pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy that third baseman Conor Gillaspie appeared to have in his sights. But as the White Sox have proven throughout the 2013 season, very few things are routine.
As Gillaspie waited for the popup, Gordon Beckham charged in from second, tripped on Reed's foot and fell forward as the ball dropped safely to the ground.
Gone was the club's one-run lead, as Wright scored from second. Gone was a much-deserved victory for Chris Sale, who struck out 13 over eight innings. Gone was Addison Reed's 22nd save.
Luckily for the White Sox, they were able to do just enough damage to beat Hawkins (2-1) in the bottom of the frame. But Beckham still couldn't stop his frustration from boiling over after the squad's third win in four games.
"Well I ran in there and screwed up. That's what happened," said Beckham. "Stupid play for me. My heart was in the right spot, but my mind obviously wasn't.
"It was loud. I screwed up. It is what it is. I'm glad we won. It didn't cost us the game, but it's a stupid play and I'm an idiot. I was trying to make a play, but it's unacceptable. You do that, you blow the save for Reed and don't get Sale a win."
On June 14, Sale fanned 14 Astros in a complete-game effort and walked just one while allowing five hits. He took a loss in that contest because of two unearned runs on two errors made by Ramirez.
Tuesday's mound effort didn't start quite as auspiciously, with Sale allowing two runs in the first inning. But the Mets (30-43) didn't pick up much more, fanning nine times swinging and four times looking, as Sale hit as high as 98 mph with his fastball.
"He had a good changeup and slider going," said Mets catcher John Buck of Sale. "That's the first time we all have seen him, so I think that added to it. He throws hard and has that good secondary stuff. I think that was kind of the equalizer, that changeup and that slider."
"[White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers] and I were working well together. My arm was loose," said Sale, who walked two and allowed four hits over 110 pitches. "After the first couple of innings, I just felt like I had good control and good command of all my pitches. I just tried to get in my groove and stay on it."
A solo homer from Flowers in the third and two manufactured runs in the fifth off Mets prodigy Zack Wheeler put the White Sox in command to get Sale his first victory since May 17. Then, the ninth inning came around.
Wright singled and swiped second, one of seven stolen bases recorded by the two teams, but he was still there after Marlon Byrd struck out and Jordan Danks made a running catch of Josh Satin's line drive to right-center. That defensive prowess didn't hold up on Murphy's popup, leaving the White Sox seemingly asking what could happen next.
"Everyone saw it. There should be one guy underneath it. You're at a loss to describe it," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "At least they gathered together and scored a run in the next [at-bat]. But it's just a communication thing and you got to clean it up. They know what they did … but somebody has to catch it."
"That happens, it's part of baseball," said Reed, who blamed himself for being too close to the play. "It kind of [stinks] we did get the win and at the same time, we're kind of all down."
Down, for sure. But not as potentially buried as they would have been if a late error cost them a victory for the second straight game. Never has "a win is a win" mentality been better defined than by the White Sox on Tuesday.
"I don't think I've ever been disappointed after a win," said Sale, who reached double-digit strikeouts for the third time this season and seventh time in his career. "It's definitely not the first time that's happened and it's probably not the last either. My record is irrelevant. We got a win today, and that's all that really matters to be honest with you."
"You win a game and you're talking about the mistakes you make," Ventura said. "Everyone does a nice job and you win, but everyone focuses on that because you have to clean it up."