Although Kevin Jepsen’s wild pitch over his standing catcher’s head will make all the blooper reels, the Los Angeles Angels bullpen’s entire three-inning performance could have been set to the same wacky trombone-and-xylophone music.
Alexei Ramirez scored the tiebreaking run from third base when Jepsen threw a wild pitch during an intentional walk in the 10th inning, and the Angels gave up five runs in the final three innings of Chicago’s 6-4 victory Wednesday night.
Adam Dunn homered among his career-high four hits and scored on Brent Lillibridge’s sacrifice fly moments after Jepsen (0-2) comically sailed a throw over the head of catcher Hank Conger, who had stood up while the Angels intentionally walked Paul Konerko.
"I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen that,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “It might be the first time I’ve seen that."
Torii Hunter tripled and drove in two runs for the Angels, while Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo had RBI singles as the Angels took a 4-1 lead. Rookie Tyler Chatwood repeatedly escaped jams while pitching into the seventh inning, but his relievers found nothing but trouble.
Omar Vizquel had an RBI double in the eighth inning and a tying sacrifice fly in the ninth for the White Sox. A.J. Pierzynski also had four hits and drove in a run during Chicago’s ninth-inning rally against Angels closer Jordan Walden, who blew his second save chance.
Jepsen then struggled in his first appearance since returning to Anaheim earlier Wednesday following a monthlong banishment to the minors for a poor start to the season.
The veteran reliever leaned back in his chair and sighed when asked about the wildest of wild pitches.
"I threw it about 10 feet too high," Jepsen said. "Just sailed it. Sometimes on an intentional walk, you can take it too easy, I guess. That shouldn’t happen. That’s the first time I’ve ever done that."
The Angels’ bullpen had been fairly solid this season, with the club going 18-1 when leading after eight innings—until this wholesale collapse.
“We needed that,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Early in the game, we left a lot of people on base. We got a few opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of, but late in the game, we got some big hits. The energy in the dugout was great, especially the last three innings.”
The White Sox stranded a season-high 15 runners, including two left on base in the eighth when Ramirez was called out for batter interference. After their rough April, they weren’t too proud to claim a gift go-ahead run while winning back-to-back series for the first time this season.
“We just couldn’t get that big hit to open it up,” Dunn said. “When we got to the eighth down 4-1, we could have just packed it up, but we kept coming after it, and finally got it. Today was just one of those days when there was a lot of weird stuff going on.”
The late fireworks overshadowed the return of Jake Peavy, who gave up seven hits and four runs over six innings for Chicago in his first game back from a 10-month absence for major shoulder surgery.
Sergio Santos (2-0) allowed one hit over two innings in his 13th straight scoreless appearance to start the season for Chicago. Matt Thornton pitched the 10th for his first save.
Peavy, the 2007 NL Cy Young award winner, looked good in his first appearance since July 6, 2010, when he detached a muscle in his right shoulder while facing the Angels. The two-time All-Star led the majors in ERA in 2004 and 2007, also leading the majors in strikeouts that year.
"I thought I had pretty good stuff tonight, and plenty of stuff to compete at this level and expect to win," said Peavy, activated from the disabled list earlier Wednesday after five rehabilitation starts in the minors. “I just didn’t catch any breaks, but I’m as excited as I can be to go out there and compete with the boys. I threw some bad breaking balls tonight, but I know it’s going to get better as time goes on."
Vizquel’s double off Fernando Rodney in the eighth trimmed the Angels’ lead to 4-2, but Ramirez was called out moments later with two runners on. Guillen vehemently argued the call by plate umpire Dan Bellino, who said Ramirez got in Conger’s way when Vizquel attempted to steal third.
But the White Sox rallied in the ninth against Walden, who walked Dunn on four pitches to lead it off. After Carlos Quentin and Pierzynski singled and Alex Rios walked, Vizquel’s fly to center easily scored Quentin.