Freak play benefits White Sox vs. Braves
Ball finds its way into Conrad's jersey for infield single
CHICAGO -- Look no further than the fourth inning of Tuesdays' 9-6 victory for the White Sox over the Braves at U.S. Cellular Field to illustrate how the South Siders clearly now are living the good life.
With two outs and nobody on base and the White Sox holding a 6-3 lead on Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson, Alex Rios ripped a ground ball to third baseman Brooks Conrad with all the makings of the inning's third out. That scenario changed quickly when the ball took one bad hop and disappeared.
So, where was the baseball magically transported? As Conrad shuffled around third base frantically looking for the missing item, he suddenly stopped and found it inside his jersey. The ball literally had bounced up and into Conrad's shirt for the rarest kind of infield hits.
"I thought he lost the ball, but I didn't see it either," said a smiling Rios. "I had no idea where the ball was."
"It's just a freak thing. You never see it," Conrad said. "There might be a few times here and there where you'll see it. They'll probably play it on the blooper reel and all that stuff."
To compound Conrad's strange miscue, Paul Konerko followed with a single to center. Carlos Quentin then drove Hanson's ensuing pitch into the left-field stands for his ninth home run and a virtually insurmountable 9-3 White Sox advantage.
"Really, it was just a freak play. It's too bad they made the most of it after that," Conrad said. "But what are you going to do? You might never see it again."
"No, I've never seen something like that," said White Sox leadoff man Juan Pierre, who has his fair share of infield hits. "I told [Rios], 'You are living good, man, when you get things like that to happen.' A week ago, that's probably an out. It probably bounces up to him or bounces and kicks over. We just have to ride out this good run as long as possible."
Quentin's long ball, ending a streak of eight straight games without a home run for the White Sox, helped the host team win its seventh straight game. The Braves' five-game winning streak came to an end, in some small part due to Conrad's jersey.
Even after the game had ended, Conrad couldn't find much humor in the grounder which left a red mark on his chest in between his second and third buttons.
"Like I said, it was a freak thing," Conrad said. "I was embarrassed more than anything. I wasn't happy about it. It was an out. Just catch the ball and throw it to first. I was talking to a couple of their guys, like [Gordon] Beckham, when I got to second and they were like, 'I can't believe you weren't smiling.' I was like, 'I was baffled, I didn't know what to do.'
"I asked [third-base umpire Adrian Johnson], 'Have you ever seen anything like that before?' He said, 'Actually a couple of times.' I said, 'Well you've seen it two more times than I have.'"
Still in need of further proof as to the White Sox good fortune, complementing their tremendous on-field effort while producing 11 wins in 12 games? In that same fourth inning, Rios raced to second on Konerko's single to center but abruptly stopped short of advancing to third.
Rios could have copped to not wanting to challenge Melky Cabrera, one of the National League's better throwing arms. But with things going so well, a grinning Rios couldn't hide the postgame truth.
"You know what? I didn't know we had two outs," Rios said. "It was good to stay at second because he could have thrown me out at third. He has a good arm. But I didn't know. It worked out well. When everything is going good..."
When everything is going good, routine grounders end up in defender's jerseys and lead to three runs.
"That's the way Rios is going right now," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I bet if that ball had been hit by Gordon, it would have been an out."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.