Because David Robertson threw three times in 24 hours, and Nate Jones five times in six games, Matt Albers had a chance to earn his first save in his 438th career appearance.
That didn’t happen. Albers blew the save, and so the Sox had to settle for a different anomaly: a third consecutive walk-off.
After the White Sox’ best hitters — Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera -- delivered the first two, the bottom of the order picked up the slack (and Albers) tonight. J.B. Shuck greeted lefty Mike Montgomery with a firm single to center, moved to second on Dioner Navarro’s bunt, and came home when Tyler Saladino shot a single back through the box to end it.
Besides covering for Albers, Saladino also took Robin Ventura off the hook. Albers wasn’t the best choice to try stranding a leadoff walk with a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning, but Albers found a way to get three outs, pitching around his own walk to strike out Miguel Montero.
Ventura then pressed his luck by sending a struggling reliever who had gone a month between strikeouts to get through another inning. The Cubs exposed that decision in a hurry. Javier Baez led off with a double, stole third and scored on Dexter Fowler’s rocket single off Jose Abreu’s mitt. Albers stayed out there after a mound visit, and he gave up another sharp single to left. Fowler took third, but Cabrera gunned down Bryant at second to give the bullpen a chance at closing it out (more on this below).
Despite a change to Dan Jennings, the Sox couldn’t take advantage. Jennings gave up a game-tying single to Anthony Rizzo on a slider off the plate, and threatened to give up the lead when Willson Contreras kept the inning alive with a single after Ben Zobrist’s flyout. Mercifully, Jennings blew a fastball past Jason Heyward to keep the game tied. Hey, at least he allowed Saladino to mark some territory in Crosstown Cup lore.
It would’ve been a painful game to lose, as the White Sox never trailed. Well before he ended it, Saladino started it, doubling off Jake Arrieta with one out and scoring on an Eaton single in the third inning.
Thanks to excellent pitching by Miguel Gonzalez, the score remained 1-0 until the sixth, when Arrieta began to crack. The inning opened with a Tim Anderson strikeout, but it was on a borderline call on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, so he made Arrieta work. Melky Cabrera followed with a walk, and Jose Abreu a hard single on a 3-1 count.
Arrieta rebounded to strike out Justin Morneau, but Todd Frazier wouldn’t let him escape. After throwing the bat on a first-pitch slider, Frazier stayed back on a hanger and blasted it over the wall in center. His 29th homer gave the Sox a 4-0 lead.
Under different circumstances, Gonzalez probably would’ve been done after six. With the bullpen taxed, Ventura tried to get another inning out of him. The Cubs cut the lead in half in three pitches, with Montero doubling on the inning’s first pitch, and Baez crushing a hanging 1-0 changeup out to left. Gonzalez recovered to stay in for two more outs, leaving the bases clean for Zach Duke, who got Rizzo to pop out.
Despite the uninspiring ending, Gonzalez still outpitched Arrieta:
- Gonzalez: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 58 game score
- Arrieta: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 50 game score
Gonzalez owes Cabrera a thank you, as he spent the day tormenting Bryant in left field. He started by taking a homer away from Bryant in the first inning. With Baez on second and two outs in the third, Cabrera fielded Bryant’s single and threw a perfect strike home, causing Baez to hold while getting Bryant caught between first and second. Navarro threw to Saladino, who fired back to Navarro in time to catch Baez after a game of cat-and-mouse around home plate. Throw in the outfield assist in the ninth, and Cabrera found three outs — all on Bryant -- where other left fielder may have found none.
Record: 49-50 | Box score | Highlights