White Sox’ loss to Mariners is blowin’ in the wind
Swirling, gusting winds made almost any ball hit in the air an adventure — sometimes in comical fashion. But the Mariners got the better of it, hitting three home runs in a 5-1 victory that snapped the White Sox’ four-game winning streak.
Amid gusting, swirling winds at Guaranteed Rate Field, White Sox third baseman Jake Burger caught a pop-up to end the sixth inning and raised his arms in mock celebration.
Except it wasn’t a mock celebration. On this day, that was making a play.
“Tough conditions, and that was honestly pure joy,” Burger said. “It wasn’t just me sarcastically celebrating. I was excited I caught it.”
It was that kind of day Thursday when fickle windy conditions that were unusual even by upper Midwest standards — officially 29 mph from the southwest — wreaked havoc on both teams. And the Mariners got the better of it in a 5-1 victory that snapped the Sox’ four-game winning streak before 13,391 fans.
On a day when the Sox managed only four hits — only two that left the infield — the infield pop-up was the Sox’ most dangerous weapon. In one bizarre sequence in the fifth, the Mariners failed to catch three pop-ups as the Sox scored their lone run to cut Seattle’s lead to 2-1.
Mariners starter Logan Gilbert (1-0), who pitched well and still deserved better, seemed set to get a 1-2-3 inning on only 10 pitches when third baseman Eugenio Suarez camped under a pop-up between third and short, only to have the ball land in foul territory.
With new life, Adam Engel popped up again in front of the plate, and catcher Cal Raleigh, struggling to find it, dropped it for an error.
Burger followed with yet another pop-up — and by now the crowd was cheering in anticipation of another mishap. And sure enough, the fans got it. Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford got twisted and turned around trying to corral it, made a desperate attempt for a basket catch and dropped it, with Engel scoring.
“What the flags were doing was completely different from what the stadium felt like” Sox first baseman Gavin Sheets said.
The comedy of errors was so ridiculous by that point that Crawford’s misplay was ruled a hit and an RBI for Burger.
“It was really tough,” Burger said. “You can’t blame anybody out there for any of those dropped balls. You saw it probably change five different directions when it was in the air, and that’s never a good thing.”
Though Gilbert had been in a groove, the pop-up folly presented the Sox with an opportunity to steal the game. Tim Anderson’s single put runners on first and second with Luis Robert up and Gilbert perhaps a little bit on tilt. But Gilbert ratcheted it back up and struck out Robert swinging to end the inning.
And that was it for the Sox. After the wind made the Mariners look like the Keystone Cops, they used the wind to take control.
Sox manager Tony La Russa pulled reliever Matt Foster after a strikeout of No. 8 hitter Julio Rodriguez, but Raleigh greeted Bennett Sousa with a wind-aided home run into the left-field seats to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead.
In the eighth inning, La Russa pulled Sousa after a walk to Jesse Winker, and Mitch Haniger greeted reliever Jose Ruiz with a two-run homer, also to left field, to give the Mariners a 5-1 lead.
But even with the loss, the Sox (4-2) won two of three against a good team. La Russa wasn’t about to complain about the weather.
“We get a lot of weather changes in the major leagues, and you have to play in them,” La Russa said. ‘‘The wind . . . was kind of interesting, kind of fun for the fans. There were a lot of funny things going on out there. It’s one of those deals where if you expect to play in conditions that are perfect . . . you better find something else to do.”