So this is the way it was supposed to be all along?
It obviously has taken a long time to get to this point, but with Friday's 5-3 victory over Seattle, the White Sox have won six of their last eight games, this one coming before a sellout crowd of 38,586 at U.S. Cellular Field. The Mariners, who had the American League wild-card lead, lost for only the fourth time in their last 13 games.
While Vazquez was credited with the victory, Jenks picked up his 33rd save when he retired all three hitters in the ninth. When Ichiro Suzuki bounced out to end the game, he was the 38th straight batter Jenks had retired, tying him for the longest streak in AL history with David Wells for the Yankees in 1998. The major-league record Jim Barr's 41 in 1972.
The superstitious Jenks wouldn't talk afterward, but Vazquez called his string of zeros "pretty amazing. That's tough to do, especially in that situation coming where it's three up, three down."
"That's [remarkable], especially when you're a closer because you don't have that many opportunities," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Vazquez has won seven of his last eight decisions, a streak that started with back-to-back complete games. He has walked only 14 batters in that span, including one (intentionally) Friday.
While allowing the Mariners nine hits, he limited them to three runs, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh with two straight infield outs.
"That's one thing Javy can do that he couldn't do in the past," Guillen said. "He couldn't get out of a tough inning. The key for Javy is that he has learned that when he doesn't have his best stuff, he can still pitch."
With success has come confidence and with confidence has come a lower pitch count, as Vazquez has quit nibbling at the corners.
"He was not aggressive," Guillen said. "Now he's more aggressive, attacking the strike zone. That is the reason he is having a better year this year."
Vazquez's feat was all the more remarkable considering the Mariners came into town having scored 31 runs in a three-game series at Baltimore, getting at least 15 hits in each.
"They have one of the best lineups in the game," Guillen said. "They have power, they have speed, they have guys who know how to play the game. It doesn't surprise me at all that they put up those kinds of numbers. I said [in the spring], that is one of the best teams, hitting-wise, in the American League."
Vazquez was staked to a 1-0 lead in the second inning and a 2-1 lead in the third on homers by Dye and Fields.
He couldn't hold either one of them, giving up homers to Kenji Johjima and Raul Ibanez. The Mariners took a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning on Jose Vidro's sacrifice fly after Yuniesky Betancourt and Suzuki had singled.
Fields tied it again in the sixth inning with a 405-foot shot just to the left of dead center, giving him his first multihomer game in the majors.
After Vazquez escaped the top of the seventh, the Sox gave him a two-run the lead in the bottom. Dye led off with a single and streaked home as Juan Uribe hit a shot off the left field wall. Uribe then scored on Darin Erstad's triple that skipped past Suzuki.