CHICAGO: The White Sox needed to beat the Indians on Wednesday night to stay at the top of the Central Division. The Tribe needed to get to the end of the season as quickly as possible to begin plotting for next year.
But lofty goals are not always enough, and the Wacky Wahoos bumped the Sox back into second place, one game behind the Tigers, with a 6-4 win at U.S. Cellular Field.
The starting pitchers both left early, apparently to get started on arrangements for the joint postseason Chicago-Cleveland roller skating party scheduled for Halloween. Why would Justin Masterson and Hector Santiago have to begin prep work now? Because the way the game was going, it might not end until well into October.
Actually, the pace did pick up, the contest coming to an end after three hours, 44 minutes.
As to the basics of their performances, Masterson gave up four runs, seven hits and four walks in 4⅔ innings. Santiago left with one out in the fourth having allowed three runs, five hits and four walks.
Yes, the “W” word created havoc and a rising pitch count — 109 for Masterson, 78 for Santiago — for both pitchers.
Sox pitchers seemed unable to help themselves, with Santiago and six relievers combining to walk 12. Six Tribe pitchers issued six walks, and that was enough to create damage.
Two Tribe batsmen who drew walks scored and another walk drove in a run. Same numbers for the White Sox, but their pitchers prolonged rallies and advanced runners into scoring position with their inability to command the strike zone.
All the walks helped the Indians match a milestone: For the first time since Sept. 26, 1956 — exactly 56 years ago — three players drew three walks in the same game (Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Lou Marson).
Santiago got the walkfest started by giving Kipnis a freebie with one out in the first inning. After Asdrubal Cabrera popped to the second baseman, Santana drew a walk and Russ Canzler followed with an RBI single.
Walks also were a crucial part of the White Sox’s three-run rally in the first. Alejandro De Aza led off with a walk and settled in at third after singles by Kevin Youkilis and Adam Dunn. With nobody out and the bases loaded, Masterson walked Paul Konerko to force home the first run.
Alex Rios delivered a line drive to left that turned into a sacrifice fly, and A.J. Pierzynski doubled home another run before Masterson retired the side.
Masterson settled down until the fifth, when a two-out walk led to Chicago’s fourth run. Pierzynski drew the walk, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Alexei Ramirez’s single.
The Tribe scored twice in the fourth on a leadoff single by Lonnie Chisenhall, a walk to Shin-Soo Choo and Kipnis’ two-run single.
The Indians tied the score in the sixth with a rally dominated by walks. Choo led off with a double, then Kipnis, Lillibridge and Santana walked consecutively to generate the run.
In the seventh, the Indians eked out another run, when Marson walked with one out, stopped at third on Ezequiel Carrera’s double and scored on Choo’s groundout to the right side.
Manager Manny Acta inserted Vinny Rottino as a defensive replacement in left for Canzler in the seventh. Or was it as an offensive replacement? Canzler singled twice, but Rottino homered on Brett Myers’ 3-and-1 pitch with one out in the eighth to put the Tribe ahead by two runs.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.