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Sox unstoppable: Hose dim Rays, 2-1

Season-high third straight win sets Chicago up for a shot at a most improbable sweep on Sunday

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Ballsy Call: Leury García decided on his own to bunt with two strikes, and his effort yielded the eventual winning run in the ninth.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In an ultimately forgettable season for the Chicago White Sox, superutilityman Leury García tends to be a forgotten man on the roster.

And to be fair, no one expects this power-packed energy wad to be a starter on the next White Sox playoff team.

But it was García’s gutsy decision to bunt while in the hole 0-2, in a desperate attempt to move Tim Anderson (leadoff double) to third with the score knotted 1-1 in the ninth inning that yielded a massive dividend, as Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Matt Duffy rushed his throw to first and sent the ball into right field, allowing Anderson to score the eventual winning run.

“[García] was still doing it on his own,” White Sox manager Ricky Renteria told the Tampa pool reporter postgame. “He was looking at the defense, he was hoping to split them probably a little bit more. But he gets down the line pretty good. If you hustle, you give yourself a chance. Put more pressure on the defense. Kind of just worked out. [Duffy] over there is actually a pretty good defender, ended up throwing wide to first.”

“We practiced that a lot in spring training,” Anderson said. “We stress on it a lot, and [García] was able to get it done.”

The bunt was being called a sacrifice attempt, but with García playing possum and not committing until Rays reliever Yonny Chirinos delivered the pitch, it’s clear García was bunting for a hit. And if the stupendousness of García’s effort isn’t made clear by the lead art above and this captivating writeup, how’s about this alternate angle:

Chirinos tried to go over García’s head on his 0-2 bunt, but the mini-mite scaled the ladder to get this deliciousness down.

What’s been fun about these two wins at the Hovering Sombrero down in St. Pete — aside from the fact that they were wins — is that the White Sox have won them in “Rays” style.

Tampa has been playing .500 ball in the tough AL East in spite of it being a rebuilding season, with a lineup full of guys you might as well call Who, What and Really, and a cutting-edge (they say), “Opener” approach to starting pitching. Opponents sort of sit back and while away time counting fans under the dome, ordering nacho helmets in the bullpen, and WHAM before you know it, whoops, they’ve lost.

Chicago has out-Rayed the Rays so far in this series.

If the winning run in the ninth doesn’t explain tonight’s Rays-style win well enough, consider the bizarre start thrown by Carlos Rodón.

Rodón was flippin’ sweet, overall, but in his six innings was stingier with hits (three) than walks (five). But channeling his inner Nuke LaLoosh ending up working out OK; Rodón announced his presence with authority, yielding no earned runs (and just one overall), adding four Ks, and again left deserving a win, with a 61 game score.

Not to say Rodón didn’t walk the tightrope. In his final four innings in the game, Rodón allowed the leadoff man to reach base — and none of those baserunners came around to score. Overall, Tampa was just 1-for-10 with RISP.

“He sensed that he wasn’t as good as he normally is,” Renteria said of Rodón’s wildness. “Coop kept telling him, ‘Listen, you can work with what you have, you just have to continue to pitch.’ He did, and it ended up working out.”

With Joakim Soria dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers, Nate Jones still sidelined with injury and Jace Fry so far channeling Matt Thornton as closer, Chicago’s approach to finishing games has been a party mix. Last night, it was Hector Santiago getting his first save in more than six years, and tonight, recent call-up and goggled flamethrower Thyago Vieira got the nod.

In just his fourth career appearance and first save opportunity, Vieira was just wild enough to be effective (19 pitches/10 strikes), plowing through Tampa’s No. 4-7 hitters yielding just a walk, with two strikeouts.

The White Sox got on the board in the fourth, when the incendiary José Abreu led off against St. Pete starter Blake Snell. After Snell missed low and in on two straight curves, Abreu barreled up a 92.9 mph fastball on the outside corner, right where Abreu juices balls, and the All-Star utterly destroyed the pill, over the center field wall.

Listen, these were damn good times tonight. The baseball wasn’t particularly pretty: Yoán Moncada struck out thrice more; Omar Narváez had his impossibly-high, league-leading 11th passed ball in the second, leading to Tampa’s unearned run; and Chicago mustered just five hits. But man oh man, who among us won’t take it?

Perhaps best of all, and a signifier that things are going the way of the Pale Hose, is rather than a Carlos Gómez clip like this:

we got one like this:


* All quotes provided by Tampa Bay Rays postgame notes.