As we discussed last week, Tyler Flowers put together the clutchest performance of the 2014 White Sox season with The Tyler Flowers Game.
I used Win Probability Added to rank the games, and Flowers, on the strength of his game-tying homer in the ninth and walk-off homer in the 12th, put together a WPA of 0.998. Here's what his effect on the game looks like in graphical form (click for source):
The steeper the slant toward the White Sox's half of the chart, the more that hit/event put the position in the Sox to win the game. So game-tying hits with two outs count for a ton, as do walk-offs, and Flowers had one of each.
Flowers' 0.998 WPA wasn't just the highest score for the White Sox this season -- it was the highest single-game WPA by a White Sox hitter in more than four decades.
I used Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index to see how many White Sox hitters packed more clutch into one game -- at least since 1952, the earliest complete year of play-by-play data. B-Ref says there are three such hitters who topped Flowers over the last 62 years, and you've heard of them.
No. 3: Minnie Minoso vs. Washington
I feel like we've seen this kind of game before.
Through seven innings, the Senators led the White Sox 1-0.
Through eight innings, the Senators led the White Sox 5-2.
Through nine innings, the White Sox and Senators were tied at 7.
The White Sox then scored four in the top of the 10th, and Early Wynn needed every bit of that cushion to record an undeserved save.
Here's the line score:
Minnie Minoso was in the thick of it, going 3-for-5 with a walk and four RBIs, and he drove in all four of those runs with two outs. He struck first in the eighth inning, delivering an RBI single off Pedro Ramos that put the Sox ahead 2-1.
One inning later, Minoso came to the plate after the Senators traded a run for an out. Al Smith hit a sac fly that cut Washington's lead to 5-4, but Washington's Tommy Clevenger was just one batter away from recording the save. That's when Minoso launched a three-run blast into Griffith Stadium's left-field seats to give the Sox a 7-5 lead.
Minoso drew a walk in his last plate appearance to lock in a 1.011 WPA, a number that could've been improved only if he didn't ground out with a runner in scoring position to end the first inning. Otherwise, you can see how those two hits dramatically improved the White Sox's chances later in the game (click for source).
No. 2: Bill Melton vs. Cleveland
Bill Melton recorded the second-greatest WPA of the play-by-play era with just one hit.
Melton went 1-for-2 with three walks in five trips to the plate against Cleveland, but when the Indians made him swing the bat, he made it count.
He came to the plate with two outs against the wobbly Dick Ellsworth. Ellsworth started the inning with a strikeout, but Luis Aparicio did him a favor by failing in his attempt to stretch a one-out double into a triple, which kept the bases clear. The Indians were one out away from a doubleheader sweep, but Syd O'Brien kept the game alive for Melton with a single.
According to the Chicago Tribune recap the next day, Melton used a teammate's bat for the occasion.
O'Brien singled smartly to center field, and Melton went to the plate with Bob Spence's 35-ounce club. He caught sight of Alvin Dark, Cleveland manager, saying to Ellsworth, "curve him low and away."
Melton didn't wait. He swung and sent his 19th home run deep into the center field bullpen to the extreme pleasure of those who remained among a paying turnout of 9,485. The blast bade adieu to the Indians for the last time and left the struggling Sox with the consolation of an even split in 12 games with at least one club this season.
Indeed, the Sox were just 38-70 after Melton's winner, en route to a 106-loss season. That was one of the rare triumphs in a marred season, and the only blemish on Melton's WPA chart was a second-inning flyout (click for source):
No. 1: Carlos May vs. Texas
The White Sox booked some overtime on Labor Day with two against the Texas Rangers, and Carlos May went to work in the front end of the doubleheader. May went 4-for-5 with a walk and five RBIs, and each hit was more important than the one that came before.
After walking and flying out to right in his first two trips to the plate, May hit a one-out single to center in the sixth. It didn't result in a run, but he had a score in store for the seventh.
A Jerry Hairston RBI single cut Texas' lead to 6-3, but Rangers pitcher Sonny Siebert recovered with a groundout for the second out. That moved both runners into scoring position for May, but May ensured they could trot home by hammering a three-run shot to tie the game.
The Rangers retook the lead in the eighth on a run-scoring error (one of five by the Sox on the day). Siebert was still pitching in the ninth, and a one-out single stood on third after a wild pitch and a groundout. Siebert got a second shot to deny May an RBI, and again he failed. May singled to right to score Johnny Jeter and send the game into extras.
White Sox pitching held the line until May could come to the plate again in the 11th. This time, he faced Steve Foucault with one out and runners on first and second after a pair of walks. Foucault didn't walk May; instead, he served up a walk-off double.
May notched the three biggest hits of the game in which 15 runs were scored, including two late-inning, two-out game-tying hits and a winner in the 11th. That's how you go about compiling the best single-game WPA in White Sox history (click for source).