RICHARD gets THE FIRST career win over KING FELIX

If you’d have told me there was going to be a 5-0 shutout tossed tonite in the game between the Sox and Mariners, I’d have thought we were going to be in for a rough night, especially if I was given the inside scoop that the Mariners were going to have runners at the corners, with nobody out in the very first inning, with Ichiro the runner on 3rd, I’d have bet the farm on the M’s. There’s no way I’d have thought Clayton Richard, he of nine point something ERA would pitch a combined shutout over Felix Hernandez and the Mariners. Richard got Ichiro to hit a comebacker to open the game, bobbled it, threw wildly to first, allowing Ichiro to reach second base. Miguel Cairo then singled to right. Raul Ibanez grounded sharply to firstbase, Nick Swisher stepped on the bag, and fired a strike to A.J. Pierzynski who applied the tag on a sliding Ichiro to complete the doubleplay. After Clayton walked Adrian Beltre, he retired the side by getting Jose Lopez on a groundball force out to Juan “Brooks” Uribe who stepped on third.

The White Sox got on the board in the 2nd when Ken Griffey, Jr. nailed a sacrifice fly to Ichiro in deep rightfield, plating Jim Thome who opened the inning with a ringing double to center and went to 3rd on an Alexei Ramirez single.

Chicago extended the lead to 3-0, scoring twice in the 3rd. The first run coming on back-to-back doubles by A.J. Pierzynski & Carlos Quinten. Then with one out and Thome at the dish Quinten stole third. Seattle elected to pitch around Thome, intentionally walking him after falling behind 3-0, Ramirez promptly singled, scoring Quinten with run number two of the inning.

Again it looked like Seattle might get on the board in the 4th when Beltre ripped a leadoff double, Lopez grounded him to thirdbase, where he was stranded when Richard buckled down to strikeout Wladimir Balentien and get Kenji Johjima on a popout to short. Nick Swisher added to the Sox lead with a long drive into the rightfield stands. It looked like Chicago would score more in inning number four as Juan Uribe sharply hit a groundball of Hernandez’s foot for a single. OC followed that up with a double, that possibly could’ve scored Uribe, but thirdbase coach Jeff Cox held him up, not wanting to make the first out at home. It was a decision I wholeheartedly agreed with, until Chicago’s next three batters failed to move the runners. Still it was 4-0, but would stranding these runners come back to haunt them?

In the 5th with one out Yuniesky Betancourt bounced a one out grounder to third where Uribe, who couldn’t get a good handle on the ball, and thew to first too late for an error. That brought up Ichiro with one out & one on. Brooks Uribe drove toward the hole, cutting off a hard hit groundball ticketed for leftfield, and turned it into a forceout. Jim Thome put one on the board, leading off the bottom of the 5th, by clubbing one high & deep to right, to the delight of his father, who once again was in attendance.

Clayton Richard once again got out of a jam in the sixth, allowing a leadoff double to Ibanez, Raul had to stop at third, when Quinten fired the sphere toward the plate with two on a Balentien single to left. Johjima followed with a linedrive to Quinten in left to put an end to Richard’s night. Matt Thornton, Octavio Dotel, & Bobby Jenks each worked a scoreless inning to preserve the combined shutout. Thornton was most impressive, not allowing a runner, striking out one, while hitting 97 on the gun.

Al & his wife (Dick & Bea’s friends, not Anthony’s parents) were in attendance, along with Tade, and another friend Phil. Final score Good Guys five, Seattle zip. Tomorrow is the last weekday daygame, then an offday, before Elvis Night on Friday. My winning streak is at five games, with another sweep a possibility, and holding on to first place over the Twins by one game.

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