Two bases-loaded walks in ninth give Blue Jays 3-2 win over staggering White Sox
CHICAGO - Some White Sox players cleaned out their belongings and scurried out the clubhouse door, hoping to catch flights home. Others took care of business around their lockers and traded goodbyes and handshakes.
Whatever last-minute chores remained Wednesday, Chicago's disappointing season — one that seemed to spin out of control at the end — was finally over.
It concluded in a fitting manner, as hard-throwing reliever Chris Sale issued two bases-loaded walks in the ninth inning and the Toronto Blue Jays rallied for a 3-2 win.
"I think everybody thought we would do a lot more and it didn't happen," said pitching coach Don Cooper who finished his short tenure as acting manager with a 1-1 record.
Earlier in the day, Ozzie Guillen was announced as the new manager of the Florida Marlins — the White Sox released him from his contract Monday.
Expected to be a contender in the AL Central, the White Sox wound up 79-83.
"It's always sour (for) every team that doesn't go on to win the World Series. Every year seems the same when you lose. You say your goodbyes, but it eats at you a little bit," said left-fielder Juan Pierre, who will be a free agent.
And now the search for a new manager begins with general manager Ken Williams saying he has a short list and a preferred candidate. Hitting coach Greg Walker also announced before the game Wednesday he was stepping down.
"We've got to come ready to get it done next year in spring training," said Cooper, who has a four-year extension to return.
"It wasn't a fun year when you don't meet expectations — not only expectations of outside people but the expectations we had in the room among ourselves that we thought we were going to obviously be much better than what it turned out to be."
The Blue Jays' victory gave them an 81-81 mark under rookie manager John Farrell as they finished fourth in the tough AL East.
Kelly Johnson doubled to start the ninth with Toronto trailing 2-1 and moved to third on David Cooper's single. Colby Rasmus sacrificed Cooper to second before J.P. Arencibia was walked intentionally to load the bases. Sale (2-2) then walked Canadians Mark Teahen and Adam Loewen back-to-back, putting the Blue Jays ahead.
"If you hadn't seen the first 161 games of the year, you could really look at this game and epitomize or wrap up our entire season," Farrell said.
"We finished an even .500, but it was the character this team has demonstrated all year long. We benefited from some wildness in the ninth inning, and it was enough to hold on."
The rally denied Chicago starter Phil Humber his 10th victory after he gave up just two hits and a run in 6 2-3 innings while fanning a career-high nine.
"If we play like we're capable of playing, I definitely think we have plenty of talent in this clubhouse," said Humber, who made the team in spring training.
"Obviously not our year, just didn't work out for us. Hopefully when we get back to spring training, everybody will have a fresh perspective and be ready to go."
Shawn Camp (6-3) pitched the eighth for the win. Frank Francisco worked the ninth for his 17th save in 21 chances.
The White Sox went ahead 2-1 in the fifth when Alexei Ramirez doubled down the third base line and a fan picked up the ball after it went into foul territory. Alejandro De Aza had opened with a single and raced home on the play.
But instead of sending De Aza back to third after the fan interference, umpires decided he was far enough around the bases and would have scored regardless, so the run counted. Farrell came out of the dugout, but there was no long argument.
Toronto's Eric Thames, the second batter in the game, hit an RBI double after a leadoff walk to Mike McCoy. The Blue Jays didn't get another hit until Teahen singled off Ramirez's glove at short in the seventh to finish Humber.
Chicago had tied it in the fourth on Gordon Beckham's 10th homer, ending a streak of 18 scoreless innings by Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow. Morrow gave up five hits and two runs in six innings.
Chicago's Adam Dunn, who needed six plate appearances in the final game to finish with the worst qualifying batting average in modern big league history, sat out the game. He finished with a .159 average in 496 plate appearances, had a club-record 177 strikeouts and hit only 11 homers with 42 RBIs after signing a four-year, US$56 million dollar contract.
NOTES: Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, who hit 43 homers and could finish as the major home run league champion in back-to-back seasons, wasn't shy when asked who should be the AL MVP. "If I couldn't vote for myself, then Miguel Cabrera," he said of the Tigers star." But if he could vote for himself, would he? "Wouldn't you?" Bautista said. ... White Sox LHP Mark Buehrle, who has pitched at least 200 innings in every season since 2001 and will be a free agent, reiterated that he had no idea if he would resign with the only team he's ever played for. Buehrle said his preference is to return but added it might be interesting to see how another organization works. Either way, he said the White Sox don't owe him anything. He signed a four-year, $56 million deal in 2007. "They've given me plenty, they've given me a chance to play baseball and given me tons of money," Buehrle said. ... Attendance was 20,524, running the season total at U.S. Cellular Field to 2,001,262. ... Morrow struck out seven, giving him 203 for the season and making him the fourth Blue Jays pitcher to fan at least 200.