Narvaez works 9 pitches, review for game-winner

Narvaez works 9 pitches, review for game-winner

CHICAGO -- Don't ask rookie catcher Omar Narvaez if his popup down the left-field line, with the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh inning, landed fair or foul.

"As soon as I hit it, I was running as hard as I could to first base," said a smiling Narvaez after the White Sox 4-2 victory over the Orioles on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field.

An original foul call from third-base umpire Mike Winters meant the bases remained loaded, the count remained at 3-2, and Mychal Givens and Narvaez would do battle once again. But White Sox manager Robin Ventura challenged the decision, and video replay overturned the foul ball into a game-winning RBI for Narvaez.

The hit was a big one in the context of a victory, but Narvaez's process stood out just as impressively.

Narvaez worked a nine-pitch at-bat, fouling off four of Givens' fastballs and three in the 96-97-mph range. He also pushed the count from 0-2 to 3-2 before plating pinch-runner J.B. Shuck, giving him hits in all five Major League games he has played.

"He's had some really good at-bats. He's swung the bat really well," said center fielder Adam Eaton, who gave the White Sox some insurance with a solo homer in the eighth. "He had a standing 'O' there during his 3-2 count, and it's easy to let those nerves get to you and maybe swing at a bad pitch out of the zone. But he had a really good 2-2 take there.

"That shows a lot about his maturity and his preparation that he had before, and his development in the Minor Leagues. So hats off to him for getting that hit. That's tremendous."

Starting pitcher Carlos Rodon and Narvaez also have fostered a good working relationship, dating back to when Narvaez caught Rodon at Class A Advanced Winston-Salem after Rodon was drafted No. 3 overall in the 2014 Draft. But it was Narvaez's bat that earned the plaudits on Saturday.

That, and a little help from video. According to Baltimore manager Buck Showalter, third baseman Manny Machado touched the ball in fair territory as he chased the popup with his back to the infield.

"We were fortunate last night with a replay," Showalter said. "It doesn't matter where it hit the ground if it hit his glove. I'm hoping they felt like they had a replay that was definitive enough that he touched it in fair territory, because we don't have one. Maybe they've got one."

"I don't know if Mike really had a good look at it, just because of Machado running down the line," Ventura said. "You can get crossed up to where you don't see it. A play that's called gets overturned because you can actually see the video and have evidence that it would have been fair. It would change the complexity of the game. It's what replay was meant to do."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.