After taking one of two from the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley, the Yankees traveled to the south side of the city to begin a four game series with the White Sox. David Phelps got the start for New York, while White Sox ace Chris Sale made his return from the DL.
Sale started out the game looking every bit like one of the best pitchers in the league, and he kept it up all night long. The first inning began ominously for the Yankees, as Sale struck out the side to start the game, and again mowed the Yankees down in order in the top of the second.
After an easy first inning, David Phelps got two quick outs in the second. However, he then gave up a two-out double to Paul Konerko, who then scored on a ground-rule double by Alejandro De Aza. Zoilo Almonte made a diving play to try to grab De Aza's slicing fly ball, but he just missed, and the ball caromed away and into the stands. Phelps then walked White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers and then promptly gave up a line drive single to Adam Eaton, and the White Sox took a 2-0 lead after two.
In the fourth, the White Sox threatened again. Alexei Ramirez led off the inning with a single to center, then stole second without a throw, as John Ryan Murphy couldn't get a good grip on the ball out of his glove. After a Konerko flyout and a De Aza strikeout, Flowers hit a single in the hole between second and third, but the ball was hit so hard that Almonte managed to get the ball into the infield quickly, holding Ramirez at third. With two on and two out, Adam Eaton hit a liner to short, but Brenden Ryan was able to make the grab and end the inning, keeping the Yankees only down by two.
Phelps found his rhythm by the fifth inning, taking care of business and getting the White Sox out in order. In the top of the sixth, after Murphy grounded out and Ryan lined out, Almonte thankfully broke up the perfect game with a line drive single to center. Almonte then swiped second, but the slumping Jacoby Ellsbury struck out to end the inning (one of his three strikeouts on the night).
Phelps threw a perfect bottom half of the sixth, and then the White Sox turned the game over to their bullpen, as Sale (it being his first start back after a DL stint) was pulled after just 86 pitches. Righty Zach Putnam took the mound and mowed the Yankees down in order to keep Chicago ahead going into the bottom of the seventh. Phelps continued to roll in the seventh inning, retiring the side in order (and making it 10 in a row that he had retired up to that point).
Daniel Webb pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the eighth for the Sox, although he did have a close call. With one out, Brian Roberts almost managed a homer, flying out to left but forcing De Aza to retreat to the warning track. Brian McCann then pinch-hit for John Ryan Murphy, but couldn't get anything going for the Yankees, lining out to left.
Alfredo Aceves came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth and promptly gave up a leadoff double to Gordon Beckham, who missed a home run by just a couple of feet. Aceves gave up a one-run single (because of course he did, because Aceves is terrible) to Adam Dunn. He then walked Alexei Ramirez, but avoided surrendering any more runs when he managed to get Paul Konerko to fly out to end the inning.
In the top of the ninth, Brett Gardner grounded out before Ichiro Suzuki smacked a single up the middle, giving the Yankees a hint of life. Ellsbury followed Ichiro's hit up with a hard liner to left, but unfortunately, de Aza got a good jump and tracked it down. With two outs, Derek Jeter came to the plate and worked a walk, sending Ichiro to second and bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Mark Teixeira. On a 1-2 count, a pitch from White Sox reliever Ronald Belisario found its way past catcher Tyler Flowers, allowing Ichiro and Jeter to advance to second and third. They would then score as Teixeira hit the next pitch back up the middle, finally putting the Yankees on the board and making it 3-2 White Sox. With the tying run at first, Soriano came to the plate, and while he worked the count full, he couldn't manage a hit, striking out to end the game.
Simply put, Sale dominated the Yankees tonight. He looked as good as ever, taking a perfect game into the sixth inning and making Yankees hitters look foolish all night long. While David Phelps pitched a good game, only giving up two runs, the Yankee bats just could get nothing going against Sale. If the White Sox hadn't been concerned with easing Sale back into the rotation, the Yankees probably would never have gotten on the board at all.
Hopefully they'll will have better luck tomorrow, and they should, as former Yankee Hector Noesi (7.31 ERA this season) will face off against Hiroki Kuroda Friday night at 8.