The first pitch that Chad Pinder saw in the major leagues was a Chris Sale two-seam fastball that tailed out of the zone. This was followed by another two-seamer, but Sale's second offering caught a good chunk of the plate and Pinder took a stab at it, chopping a hard ground ball right back up in the middle into the outstretched glove on Sale's lanky arm for a 1-3 result in Pinder's first career at bat.
Pinder's second at bat showed off a good batter's eye as he was able to lay off of two tough sliders to work himself into a good hitter's count. But Chris Sale had found his dominant fastball and control by the middle innings of the game, and Pinder would get beaten by consecutive challenge fastballs and strike out against the tough lefty.
In Pinder's third at bat, coming against Chris Sale for a third time in the top of the eighth inning, looked rather helpless. After swinging through two consecutive offspeed pitches low in the strikezone, Pinder meekly fouled off a 95 MPH fastball before chasing a 97 MPH fastball up and out of the strikezone for his second strikeout of the day.
Pinder's final at bat would come with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning against David Robertson. The first pitch was an inside breaking ball that didn't break and brushed Pinder back that set up an outside cut fastball. After another set of inside breaking ball ball and cut fastball swing and miss strike, Pinder showed a good eye by taking a tough cutter down and away to work the count full. The final pitch of the at bat was a fastball right down the middle that Pinder smoked to the deepest part of Chicago's home field and was unfortunately run down by Adam Eaton with his back turned to home plate right in front of the warning track for the final out of the ballgame.
Pinder didn't see a whole lot of action in the field. During a White Sox rally in the third inning a Tim Anderson ground ball single forced Pinder to range very far to his left, and the ball would ultimately get by Pinder and into right field for an RBI hit, but Pinder was shaded much too far towards second base for him to have any reasonable shot at fielding that grounder, and he did nearly get a glove on it. In the sixth he successfully fielded a routine ground ball off the bat of Adam Eaton for the final out of the inning.
Ross Detwiler was not good tonight. He allowed at least one run to score in every single inning that he pitched in, and would have a final pitching line of four innings, ten hits, six runs, and one home run. Most of the damage against Detwiler occurred with two outs, as he struggled all night to put away the final batter of the inning. He was brought on to be an innings eater to finish out the season, and he's valiantly doing what he can to fulfill that role, but his performance on the mound tonight took the A's out of the game early when the offense had been making loud contact and Chris Sale did not have his best control in the first few innings (albeit to no avail).
The combination of Coulombe, Smith, and Axford would go four innings, with six strikeouts and no baserunners.
For the A's, the offense flexed a good amount of warning track power early on, and sprayed a few hard line drive base hits all over the field and worked a couple of walks in the first couple of innings, but couldn't come through in the clutch and actually score. By the middle innings, Chris Sale had found his groove, and wouldn't allow a hit after the fourth inning and would even strike out five consecutive Athletics as his pitch count was surpassing 100. It was no Maddux of a performance, but Chris Sale ended his night with a line of eight innings pitched, three hits, three walks, eight strikeouts, and no runs, in yet another typically dominant outing.
Off of Nate Jones and David Robertson, the A's would try to make things interesting as Danny Valencia hit an opposite field solo home run and Ryon Healy, Stephen Vogt, and Brett Eibner, with a little help from sloppy White Sox defense, would all reach base, instilling some life into the game after twenty-five outs. But with the score 6-2, the game would end on the aforementioned final Pinder at bat.
Today's game was all about Pinder's debut. While making the final out is never in anyone's plans for a major league debut, many-a great career have had humble beginnings like Pinder's. Despite some swing-and-miss in his game (he was only making his debut against one of the best strikeout pitchers in all of baseball), Pinder did a good job working the count and was able to step up his performance in high-stress game situations. His long drive in his final at bat may have ultimately been caught, but the feeling of making really strong contact and the feeling of making the hearts of thousands of viewers skip a beat the moment after that swing will surely stick with Pinder for a long time.