For the third straight season, it was more beneficial for the White Sox to lose September games than win them. Believe it or not, though, there was a time when we actually pulled for the White Sox to erase deficits, and game-winning hits weren't met with mixed feelings.
There were actually 22 of these games by my count. Some were difficult to eliminate, like beating up the Royals 12-1 to set up a sweep in Kansas City. Suddenly solving Tommy Milone for seven runs. The random John Danks shutout. However, I was able to round them down to 10 games that had a little extra something -- the kind of games you might really savor one day during a season where every win counts.
No. 10: Chris Sale sets strikeout record
Sale's climb up the strikeout leaderboard was a grim affair, as he went 0-4 through his previous six starts, and three of those winless outings were on him. However, he was able to close out his season in ideal fashion, freezing James McCann on a backdoor slider (after trying to strike him out with an eephus pitch) en route to seven innings of one-run ball and a victory for both pitcher and team. That locked in a winning record for Sale, and it didn't cost them a protected first-round draft pick, either. Thumbs up.
No. 9: Chris Sale strikes out 15 Cubs
The Condor started his afternoon by striking out the side. He ended his afternoon by striking out the side. In between, he had nine other strikeouts and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, thwarting the North Siders' attempt to sweep the Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, and keeping the Mr. Submarine Cup on the South Side for another season.
No. 8: Last seven White Sox reach
Terry Francona pointed to the White Sox' three-game sweep at Progressive Field as the series that grounded Cleveland's season more than any other. Those three games were each great, but this one was the biggest kick in the pants. The White Sox trailed 3-0 through eight innings with Trevor Bauer and two relievers working on a four-hitter. Cody Allen came in to close it out, started by striking out Adam LaRoche on three pitches and then gave up a double, walk, double, single, single, single and finally a Melky Cabrera fly ball that fell for a single because catching it would've been pointless. Allen couldn't even get a second out.
No. 7: David Robertson's productive day
After losing their first four games against the Royals in 2015, the White Sox picked up two in one day. Robertson was on the mound when the day's action opened, pitching the top of the ninth as the suspended game from the day before resumed. He picked up the win in that one courtesy of an Avisail Garcia walk-off, and then collected the save in the full game after the Sox rallied from a 3-0 deficit with a five-run sixth inning. The White Sox were outclassed by the AL Central winners over the course of the full season, but between this day and a sweep at Kauffman Stadium, at least they weren't total pushovers this time around.
No. 6: Five double plays
The Sox spent a good portion of the first half tripping over themselves, but they could occasionally get it together to create something special. Here is the White Sox' best defensive effort of the season. Carlos Rodon walked six batters over six innings, but they were six scoreless innings thanks in large part to double plays in each of the first four innings. Jake Petricka picked up one of his own in the seventh, and Carlos Sanchez closed out the game in fitting fashion by diving to catch a line drive.
No. 5: Winning streak hits seven before deadline
This was supposed to be the turning point of the White Sox' season, as offensive regression propelled the team within a game of .500 with a barrage of runs. Even Jose Quintana received such support. The White Sox gave up him a 2-0 lead before he took Fenway Park's mound, a 5-0 lead after two, and a 6-0 lead after three. Rick Porcello was pounded for 10 hits over two innings, and racked up 17 overall. This was a lot of fun at the time, I swear.
No. 4: Jobbing Joba
The Sox trailed by three in the eighth inning with two outs and nobody on against Joba Chamberlain. Then, out of nowhere, six straight hits. One of them was Melky Cabrera's first White Sox homer, a three-run blast that tied the game. That was exciting enough, and yet the Sox didn't settle. Jose Abreu singled, LaRoche singled, and then Garcia capped off a seven-pitch at-bat by lining a single to center for the game-winning run. Capping it off, Garcia thwarted a potential Detroit rally in the ninth by hitting the cutoff man and catching McCann rounding first two too generously.
No. 3: The year's best pitching duel
A terrific head-to-head matchup on paper lived up to the hype. Corey Kluber, the 2014 Cy Young winner coming off an 18-strikeout masterpiece, struck out 12 over nine innings. That was only good enough to get the game into extra innings, as Chris Sale threw eight innings of one-run ball himself, and Adam Eaton put the Sox on the board with his legs (a triple and some high-risk, high-reward #WILDPITCHOFFENSE) to tie it up. Sanchez eventually untied it with a line-drive single to left, which fell just beyond the reach of a diving Zach Walters.
No. 2: Avisail Garcia saves Independence Day
Garcia's reaction to his own home-run robbing catch in the ninth inning says it all. This is the season's most thrilling moment.
No 1: Sale bests Mark Buehrle
While Garcia's catch provided the single biggest jolt of 2015, this game was electric all night long. Chris Sale entered the game trying to set a record for the most consecutive 10-strikeout games. That didn't happen, but by the end of the evening, nobody cared, because Sale and Buehrle put on a show in their battle of fan favorites. Hell, it was like the fans drew up the outcome -- dual complete games clocking in at an hour and 54 minutes and a White Sox comeback victory.
The attendance was only 24,593, but everybody at the U.S. Cellular Field said the atmosphere was supercharged from the first inning. Based on this list, one might get the sense that Sale has an ability to rise to the occasion. I'd sure like to see what he could do with even one postseason game.