In relatively rare ray of light in their death march of September, the Chicago White Sox burst out to a two-run lead, before shutting down the offense for the remaining seven.
But just when Chicago could have packed it up and strung another loss on the line, the White Sox stormed back in the ninth, knocking off Cleveland, 5-4, on a two-run single from shaken-not-stirred final-frame stud Daniel Palka.
Yoán Moncada walked on a full count to lead off the inning and was sent sprinting to third on a sharp single from Adam Engel. Yolmer Sánchez followed with a first-pitch single to bring the White Sox to within one, and one sac bunt from Leury García later, ducks were on the pond for Palka, who took an inside slider the other way for the win, Sánchez plating the decider.
Sánchez also scored the first run of the game, leading off with a novel concept: Bunting to third base to challenge a poor and/or injured third baseman. Sánchez victimized Josh Donaldson, who threw wildly to first, which was followed by a wild throw from José Ramirez to second, pushing the mini-mite to third base on a ball hit about 30 feet.
Sánchez was eventually driven in by Avisaíl García, who hit his career-high 19th homer deep to left to put the White Sox up, 2-0.
But, as in most games this season the White Sox have been fortunate enough to have an early lead, 2-0 evaporated right quick.
In the third, Ramirez singled to score Michael Brantley, and Yonder Alonso singled to score two, giving Cleveland a 3-2 lead it would not relinquish. An insurance run came in the fourth, when Yan Gomes drove a fluttering cutter from James Shields that he took out of the park.
Later in the fourth, Nicky Delmonico laid out for a spectacular diving catch that would eventually see him removed from the game, as his right shoulder bore the brunt of the dive.
Shields made the final start of his White Sox career, passing 200 innings pitched on the season in the process. He went six, keeping the bases clogged with six hits and four walks, surrendering four earned runs and finishing with a 44 game score.
Palka, for one, was happy to get Shields off the hook for a loss in his last game of the season: “He didn’t get that L. I’m pumped up about that.”
For posterity, the final out of Shields’s time in a White Sox uniform:
And from lasts to firsts, José Rondón made his professional debut at first base in the ninth inning, and snagged a foul pop and made a tasty stretch and scoop on a fabulous play by Leury García at shortstop to end the inning:
Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit is a White Sox adage that’s not always true, as would be impossible for a 95-loss team. But on one night in the sunset of the season, Chicago stood proud.
Or, in the words of All Hat, No Talk Palk: “We just don’t quit.”