White Sox team captain Paul Konerko has the same daily mantra when questioners surround him about the state of his team as the heat builds toward post-season hopes.
“Just don’t get ahead of yourself,” he repeated Friday. “Don’t think about a series a week from now and let today’s game get away from you.”
Things almost got away from the Sox Friday in a wild ninth inning against the hot Seattle Mariners. But after letting the Mariners come back from a 7-2 ninth inning hole to take an 8-7 lead, the Sox prevailed with their own dramatics.
Konerko’s drive to the wall in center field fell between colliding outfielders Michael Saunders and Eric Thames allowing Dewayne Wise to score the winning run in a 9-8 thriller.
“It’s not easy. There are no pushovers and you have to play nine innings,” Konerko said.
“It all happened so fast,” he added of the wild Mariners ninth when 10 men went to the plate and scored six runs. “But when Gordon [Beckham] got on [with an infield single off Tom Wilhelmsen] you think `we can tie this up.’ ”
The Sox went on to win for their fourth in a row while ending the Mariners own streak of eight consecutive wins.
The victory moved the Sox 2 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central.
The victory went to Addison Reed (3-1), who also had a blown save as the third pitcher in the ninth.
“That wasn’t our best,” Beckham said of the ninth that saw the Mariners cash in with four hits and three walks. “It’s one of those things in baseball you never know. That’s a game where we’re ahead [7-2] and on paper we should win. If we had lost that game it would have been a big blow.”
Beckham started the comeback with an infield single that shortstop Brendan Ryan couldn’t handle. “To be honest, I was just trying to get on, and that’s not the easiest thing to do because the inning had been so long.”
The Sox were cruising with a comfortable 7-2 lead in the ninth, ready to help hard-luck starter Jake Peavy notch a much-needed victory.
Philip Humber–who had perfect game credentials against the Mariners–started the ninth but quickly gave up a home run to Jesus Montero. He retired Eric Thames but walked Justin Smoak.
Manager Robin Ventura called on lefty Donnie Veal to face Trayvon Robinson, who already had homered in the game off Peavy. Robinson doubled this time, sending Ventura to the mound again for closer Addison Reed.
Reed walked Brendan Ryan, gave up a single to Dustin Ackley and walked Michael Saunders to load the bases and put 25,058 at U. S. Cellular Field on edge.
Kyle Seager’s sacrifice fly scored another run, but John Jaso’s single and Alex Rios’ throwing error from right field put the Mariners ahead 8-7.
“We didn’t do anything well,” said Youkilis, who drove in the tying run. “We can’t have innings like that late in a game. It was a great win in the end. First place teams win games like that. We handled adversity.”
Peavy for once had a feast of run support with a pair of Adam Dunn homers and a two-run homer from Alexei Ramirez–but he wasn’t involved in the decision.
“I was watching from in [the clubhouse],” he said. “It wasn’t a good atmosphere, obviously, but that’s what this team has been about all year–never say die.”
Peavy is only 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA in his last six starts when he has received little run support.
“He pitched great,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said of Peavy’s seven innings allowing only two runs. “It’s a shame he couldn’t get a win when we actually scored him some runs.
“From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in about a two-minute span,” he added of the outcome. “We feel bad because of the way we blew it, but you feel great because of the way we won it.”