Sonnanstine tosses three-hit shutout
Rays righty issues just one walk in gem against White Sox
ST. PETERSBURG -- Andy Sonnanstine made the necessary adjustments Saturday night and came away with a nifty complete-game three-hitter to lead a 5-0 Rays win over the White Sox in front of a crowd of 17,613 at Tropicana Field.
Sonnanstine appeared in control throughout the game to move to 2-1 for the season while recording the first complete game and shutout of his Major League career. Of the right-hander's 106 pitches, 77 were for strikes, he walked just one hitter and only one White Sox baserunner got as far as second base. Overall, the performance brought a stark contrast to his outing Monday night, when he surrendered seven runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Yankees -- including three home runs -- en route to a no-decision.
Sonnanstine "showed why he's been successful as a pitcher to this point in his career, because he made an adjustment," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He knew what he'd done was wrong [Monday night]. He knew he'd gone away from his normal game plan. He knew he just wasn't himself. He listened to constructive criticism. He was accountable for everything that occurred. And he went out and did the appropriate thing tonight. He made the adjustments. He went back to pitching the aggressive type of game he does."
Sonnanstine strayed from his fastball in his previous outing and paid dearly. On Saturday night, the fastball gave him the freedom to use his other pitches when needed.
"I feel like tonight I didn't stray from the plan like I did earlier, and I had some great success with it, so I'm very happy," Sonnanstine said. "Everything looked sharper because I was throwing more fastballs. I felt like my fastball was coming out of my hand pretty well."
Sonnanstine recorded first-pitch strikes against 21 of the 29 batters he faced during a game that at times appeared to be a contest between White Sox starter Mark Buehrle and Sonnanstine to see who could get their half of the inning done the quickest. The end result was a two-hour, two-minute contest, the shortest game in Tropicana Field history by a minute.
"It doesn't mess me up if there's a slow guy on the mound against me, but it's nicer to have another quick guy opposing me," Sonnanstine said.
Meanwhile, Jonny Gomes managed to ignite the Rays' offense after Buehrle appeared to have picked off Gomes off first base with two outs in the second. Rays fans let out a moan, since Buehrle already had picked off Carl Crawford in the first inning. But Gomes did not allow himself to get tagged and took off for second base, eventually sliding headfirst safely into second.
"I just wanted to keep on hustling," Gomes said. "I don't think there's a method to the madness in a rundown. I just wanted to stay in the middle."
Eric Hinske singled home Gomes for the Rays' first run. Shawn Riggans then singled to put runners at first and second for Jason Bartlett, who threaded a single through the right side of the infield to drive home Tampa Bay's second run. Akinori Iwamura added an RBI single to push the lead to 3-0.
Gomes' play "was a big play and gets a stolen base and turns it into some runs," Maddon said. "That's incredibly large. ... A lot of guys give up, get tagged out and come back to the dugout. He did the right thing by trying to get out of it, and he did."
Buehrle, who allowed a season-high 12 hits, called Gomes' escape "frustrating."
"For a guy like me that gets hit ... I need every out," Buehrle said. "I need the defense behind me."
Gomes again got things going for the Rays when he tripled to lead off the fourth and scored on Riggans' sacrifice fly for a 4-0 Tampa Bay lead. B.J. Upton doubled home Crawford in the seventh to equal the final margin.
Saturday night's win snapped a six-game losing streak against the White Sox dating back to May 27 at U.S. Cellular Field, and the win was Tampa Bay's first against Chicago at Tropicana Field since May 18, 2006.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.