Amid gusting, swirling winds at Guaranteed Rate Field, White Sox third baseman Jake Burger caught a pop-up to end the sixth inning and raised both arms in mock celebration.
Except it wasn’t a mock celebration. On this day, that was making a play.
“Tough conditions and that was honestly pure joy,” Burger said. “It wasn’t just me sarcastically celebrating. I was actually excited I caught it.”
It was that kind of day Thursday when fickle windy conditions that were unusual even by upper Midwest standards — officially 29 mph from the southwest — wreaked havoc for both teams. And the Mariners got the better of it in a 5-1 victory before 13,391 fans that snapped the White Sox’ four-game winning streak.
On a day when the Sox managed just four hits — only two that left the infield — the infield pop-up literally was the Sox’ most dangerous weapon. In one bizarre sequence in the bottom of the fifth, the Mariners failed to catch three pop-ups as the Sox scored their only run to cut the Mariners’ lead to 2-1.
Mariners starter Logan Gilbert (1-0), who pitched well and still deserved better, appeared out of a 1-2-3 inning on just 10 pitches when third baseman Eugenio Suarez camped under an Adam Engel pop-up between third and short — only to have the ball land in foul territory.
With new life, Engel popped up again in front of the plate — and catcher Cal Raleigh, struggling to find it, dropped it for an error.
Burger followed with yet another pop up — and by now the crowd was cheering in anticipation of another mishap. And sure enough, they got it. Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford got twisted and turned around trying to corral it, made a desperate attempt for a basket catch — and dropped it, with Engel scoring.
“What the flags were doing was completely different from what the stadium felt like” first baseman Gavin Sheets said. “It was just a really weird day.”
The comedy of errors was so ridiculous by that point that Crawford’s misplay was ruled a hit and an RBI for Burger.
“It was really tough,” Burger said. “You can’t blame anybody out there for any of those dropped balls. You saw it probably change five different directions when it was in the air, and that’s never a good thing.”
Though Gilbert had been in a groove, the pop-up folly presented the Sox with an opportunity to steal the game. Tim Anderson’s single put runners on first and second with Luis Robert up and Gilbert perhaps a little bit on tilt. But Gilbert ratcheted it back up and struck out Robert swinging to end the inning.
And that was it for the Sox. After the wind made the Mariners look like the Keystone Cops, they used the wind in their favor to take control.
After Sox manager Tony La Russa pulled reliever Matt Foster following a strikeout of No. 8 hitter Julio Rodriguez, Raleigh greeted Bennett Sousa with a wind-aided home run into the left field seats to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead.
In the eighth inning, La Russa pulled Sousa after a walk to Jesse Winker and Mitch Haniger greeted reliever Jose Ruiz with a two-run homer, also to left field, to give the Mariners a 5-1 lead.
But even with the loss, the Sox (4-2) won two of three against a good team. La Russa wasn’t about to complain about the weather.
“We get a lot of weather changes in the major leagues and you have to play in them,” La Russa said. The wind … was kind of interesting, kind of fun for the fans. There were a lot of funding things going on out there. It’s one of those deals [where] if you expect to play in conditions that are perfect … you better find something else to do.”