04/23/08 1:18 AM ET
White Sox slammed by Abreu, Yankees
Dotel surrenders lead on seventh-inning grand slam
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
The White Sox (11-8) were clinging to a 3-2 lead, at the time, but the right-handed reliever had slipped behind Bobby Abreu with two pitches outside of the strike zone to start the at-bat, after striking out Derek Jeter one batter earlier with a 2-2 fastball. If Dotel tried to nibble around the zone with offspeed pitches to the Yankees slugger possessing the keen batting eye, then the tying run could be forced in via a free pass.
So, Dotel went with a fastball, down the middle of the plate, simply trying to get strike one. Instead, Abreu launched his seventh career grand slam into the left-field stands, and his third long ball of the season provided the victory margin for the Yankees (11-10).
Bad location in this situation was just one of the reasons preventing the White Sox from picking up their third straight win, slipping to 4-4 at home instead.
"It got too much of the plate," said Dotel, whose ERA rose to 6.75 following his first blown save courtesy Abreu's opposite-field shot. "He's the type of guy who takes a lot of pitches, but at this point and time, he swings at the first pitch I throw for a strike. It was one of those days."
"Too much of the stands in left field, too," added White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski with a shake of the head of Abreu's home run, after knocking out his third home run in the ninth inning of Tuesday's setback. "It's 2-0 against a good hitter and it's tough. You want to throw him strikes, and you don't want to go 3-0. He threw one down and Abreu whacked it."
Jose Contreras (1-2) suffered the loss, although Jason Giambi's third home run leading off the second was the lone real mistake he made on the night. Contreras was charged with four runs over 6 1/3 innings, leaving in the seventh after Morgan Ensberg walked and Melky Cabrera singled.
Issuing a free pass to Ensberg on four pitches was the difference maker in manager Ozzie Guillen's mind.
"That changed the inning right there," said Guillen of Contreras, who is 0-5 with a 6.00 ERA over his last five starts against his original team.
"Jose was really good," Pierzynski added. "Take away the home run and he didn't give up much."
Juan Uribe's two-run double in the second off Chien-Ming Wang (4-0) and Paul Konerko's run-scoring double in the fifth had given the White Sox a one-run advantage against a New York team playing without Alex Rodriguez, who was at home for the birth of his second child. But the key White Sox sequence on offense came in the bottom of the seventh, after Abreu put the Yankees in control.
Pierzynski's infield hit loaded the bases with one out, bringing into the game Joba Chamberlain, who proceeded to fan Carlos Quentin. Prior to that matchup, Quentin held a .462 average with the bases loaded and had 17 RBIs. Joe Crede, who already has two grand slams this season, coaxed a walk from Chamberlain to force in a run, but Uribe swung at the first pitch from Chamberlain and popped out to catcher Jorge Posada to end the threat.
"I'm not going to take the bat away from my players," said Guillen of Uribe's first-pitch swinging. "Uribe can put the game away with one swing, and he just missed the pitch."
"We had some chances to put the game away early and we didn't get it done," added Pierzynski, crediting Wang for making good pitches when he had to in order to help strand 13 White Sox baserunners.
Johnny Damon sealed the victory in the eighth with a two-out, three-run home run coming off Matt Thornton. The trio of Yankees home runs marked the first time White Sox pitchers have allowed three home runs in a game this season, but with the weather warming up, Guillen warned that his pitchers should beware of the long ball at U.S. Cellular.
"They have to know it's starting to get warmer and this ballpark shrinks a little bit," Guillen said.
There was an unfortunate similarity between Abreu's home run and Damon's insurance blast, with both situations coming around at two outs and on 2-0 fastballs down the middle. The end result gave New York a split in its one-day invasion of Chicago, after the Cubs beat the Mets at Wrigley Field early in the day.
Concern on the South Side focused more on one subpar overall performance costing the White Sox.
"Yeah, it was just a bad day, bad game," Pierzynski said. "We fell behind guys, and these guys make you pay when you do that."
"The guys did a good job of getting on base and we scored eight of our runs off home runs," Damon added. "When you're able to get a grand slam and a three-run homer, it makes things a lot easier."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.