If only for a moment Saturday night, the White Sox had Wade Davis on the ropes.
A Tyler Saladino single and a Adam Eaton gave the Sox the tying runs in scoring position with nobody out and the heart of the lineup waiting to deliver a dramatic come-from-behind victory.
But then Davis did what Sox reliever Chris Beck couldn’t do two innings earlier. He came through in a pressure situation by striking out Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau with the tying run 90 feet away to preserve a 6-5 Royals’ win at U.S. Cellular Field.
“We had a shot at him,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You really don’t get that many opportunities against Wade. He proves every time he goes out there how good he is.”
Melky Cabrera got the Sox to within a run when he delivered a RBI single that Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar somehow managed to keep in the infield to prevent the tying run from scoring. But with only one out, the Sox had their chances to extend their winning streak to four games.
But that’s when Davis dug in and went into lockdown mode. With Eaton standing on third base and was was left of Saturday night’s crowd of 20,148 on its feet, Davis – one of baseball’s premier closers – first got Abreu swinging to leave the game in the hands of Morneau.
Morneau had given the Sox a 4-3 lead back in the fifth inning with an RBI double down the first-base line that had put James Shields in position for his first victory since July 26. But now, with the chance to extend the game – if not win it – Morneau couldn’t solve Davis, who recorded his 23rd save in dramatic fashion.
“Tonight, we were in a good spot right there once Adam hit his double,” Ventura said. “But (Davis) is so good in tough situations and he ended up coming up out on top. We had our opportunity.”
Even after a shaky start by Shields, the Sox still appeared in a good place. Despite giving up his major-league worst 36th and 37th home runs of the season, Shields left after six innings with the Sox clinging to the one-run lead.
Enter the Sox bullpen.
The Royals touched reliever Chris Beck for three runs in the seventh inning to take a 6-4 lead After Beck struck out Escobar to start the inning, Christian Colon singled before Jarrod Dyson walked.
Beck then gave up a two-run double to Whit Merrifield that gave the Royals a 4-3 lead. After Ventura pulled Beck in favor of Dan Jennings, Eric Hosmer singled before Kendrys Morales drove in Merrifield with an RBI fielder’s choice.
Just like that what had been Shields’ best chance at a win in more than a month was gone, leaving the Sox to attempt to erase a deficit after Beck couldn’t get the job done.
“That’s a tough one especially with the speed on the bases,” Ventura said. “That puts him in a bit of a spot right there.”
The blown opportunity also came at the expense of Shields, who overcame his shaky start to give the Sox a chance to win. And after back troubles left Ventura to consider whether to put Shields on the shelf for the remainder of the season, Shields – who said Friday he was only concerned with finishing strong – took a step toward accomplishing that mission.
“I felt pretty good,” said Shields, who was 0-5 in his previous seven starts before Saturday night’s no-decision in which he gave up only four hits. “I gave up two homers, but the other two hits were kind of just really weak hits. So, overall (it was) pretty good.”
In the end, though, Davis proved to be just a little bit better – no matter how close the Sox came to proving otherwise.
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