Hudson delivers in 9th for White Sox
CHICAGO – White Sox manager Robin Ventura described the pitch as a shot at redemption.
Orlando Hudson described it as a fastball.
Either way, Hudson ripped it into center field to lift the White Sox to a walk-off win Thursday.
The Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3, on Hudson’s game-winning single that scored Dayan Viciedo in the bottom of the ninth. Hudson’s hit capped a comeback that helped the Sox avoid a sweep and increased their lead in the AL Central to 1½ games over Cleveland.
“To get out of here with a win, I think we feel kind of lucky, to be honest,” Sox captain Paul Konerko said.
Whether it was luck or perseverance, the Sox (32-25) found a way to survive.
Hudson’s game-winning hit followed a rough night in the field. He could not handle a hard-hit ground ball that led to two runs in the second inning, and he whiffed at a line drive in the eighth inning that turned into a double down the left field line.
Neither play was ruled an error, but Hudson said he should have made both.
“It was a big win for us,” Hudson said. “I’m still down about the miscue on the ground ball, and two runs ended up scoring, but we ended up coming out on top tonight. It was a big win for us after the last two nights, but I’ve got to make some defensive plays to keep us in ballgames.”
Also in the eighth, Hudson fielded a ground ball with two outs and a runner on third base. Instead of throwing to first base, he fired a throw to home plate for the inning-ending out.
Hudson said afterward that he had not lost track of the outs but wanted to make the shorter throw.
Ventura said he thought Hudson did not know that there were two outs but gave him a pass. Hudson won four Gold Gloves as a second baseman but never played third before joining the Sox this season.
“He has a lot going on over there from playing the middle of the infield and now being over there,” Ventura said. “I understand that. It’s a process with him, and we are sticking with him.”
That faith paid one inning later. The irony was not lost on Ventura.
“Baseball, you get a guy and put him in the game in an unusual position, and it will find him,” Ventura said. “And those situations to redeem yourself [after] having a tough game, it allows you to do that. It’s funny how that works out.”
Sox starter Jake Peavy labored through 52 pitches in his first two innings, but he persevered through six-plus innings and 117 pitches to keep the Sox in the game. He gave up three runs on four hits and five walks before Matt Thornton relieved him in the seventh.
Meanwhile, Jays starter Henderson Alvarez settled into a groove after a rocky first inning. He retired 12 consecutive batters before giving up an opposite-field single to Hudson in the fifth.
A sweep looked likely until Alex Rios delivered with his sixth home run of the season in the sixth inning to erase a 3-1 deficit.
On a 1-0 count, Rios belted a towering fly ball to left field that sent Jays left fielder Mike McCoy drifting toward the track. McCoy leaped and extended his glove over the wall, but the ball landed just beyond his reach for a two-run home run that tied the score at 3 in front of 25,743 fans.
“It was a lot of energy tonight,” Konerko said. “I thought it was a great crowd, probably the best of the year, it seemed like.
“It just felt like a good atmosphere out there. They really got going late in the game there, and hopefully that’s a sign of what’s to come.”
More good news could be on the way this weekend.
The Houston Astros arrive on the South Side today to open a three-game series against the Sox, who have dominated interleague play in recent years. The Sox are 53-22 against National League teams since 2008, including a 3-0 mark this season.