The White Sox are back in the Wild Card saddle again and are only five games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central after scoring 12 runs in a win at U.S. Cellular Field last night. The team should be pretty happy about that, right?

Not exactly. The Sox’ relievers—who have lately been shakier than Bobby Jenks in a Sharper Image massage chair—seem to have forgotten the first and only rule of their profession: Don’t blow a lead.

Take last night’s game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays—please! (Cue rimshot.) The Sox took an early 3-0 lead thanks to a three-run homer from all-galaxy outfielder Jermaine Dye. Against a lackluster team like the Devil Rays that really should have been the end of it.

To make things worse, after a big second inning in which the Sox added four more runs, starter Freddy Garcia let the Rays back into it. He gave up five runs from the third inning through the sixth—including a two-run homer from famously suspended hothead Delmon Young—which made it 7-5. However, Sox batters were just getting warmed up, and piled on four more runs with some classic Ozzie-ball playing in the sixth and seventh innings.

Mercifully, manager Ozzie Guillen called it a night for Garcia before the start of the eighth, but relievers Neal Cotts and David Risky, er, Riske, came precariously close to giving up the lead. The two combined to surrender four runs in just a single inning. Fortunately, Bobby “The Exception” Jenks pitched a perfect ninth and the Sox triumphed 12-9.

Last night’s game also featured some of the drama that’s seemed to follow the Sox around most of the season. Garcia hit Young with a pitch in the second, something Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon attributed to some sort of “discipline” attempt on the part of the South Siders in response to Young’s outburst against an umpire earlier this season. (As if the Sox—or anyone else, for that matter—pay attention to anything the Devil Rays do.)

The Rays got their “retaliation” by hitting the perennially plunked A.J. Pierzynski in the eighth inning. Ozzie was not impressed.

“C’mon, you’re gonna have to do a lot better than that,” he said. “You wanna make me mad? Hit Dye, [Jim] Thome or Paulie [Konerko]. But A.J.? That guy’s gotten more beans this year than a Maxwell Street burrito.”

Number of the Night: 3
Teams in the AL Central with more than 70 wins right now.

Number of the Night, Part II: 2
Teams in the National League with more than 70 wins, after the L.A. Dodgers’ win over the Cincinnati Reds last night.

heckler editorial staff