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White Sox 4, Cleveland 3: Grandal’s helmet saves the day

Codi Heuer’s brilliant work sets up a thrilling walk-off win

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates
Overwhelming relief: Codi Heuer was lights out in his 2 1⁄3 innings of relief.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Things got off to a rough start, but the White Sox rallied for a thrilling 4-3 victory against Cleveland on Monday night.

In the top of the first, Luis Robert created an early highlight with an excellent catch.

Robert’s catch robbed Cesar Hernández of what would have likely been an RBI double. Instead, starter Dallas Keuchel and the White Sox managed to keep Cleveland off the board.

After a scoreless first, Cleveland wasted no time getting on the board in the second. Keuchel hit Franmil Reyes with a cutter to open the inning, and that gave Eddie Rosario an opportunity that he did not waste. Rosario hit a 401-foot home run, his second homer of the young season, and this gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead.

However, that deficit did not last long, as the South Siders rallied in the bottom half. Nick Williams and Danny Mendick drew walks, giving leadoff hitter Adam Eaton an RBI opportunity with one out. Eaton took full advantage, as he launched a three-run homer (his team-high third blast of the year), to give the White Sox the lead.

After the second inning, Keuchel cruised right through Cleveland’s lineup. As usual, Keuchel did not rack up many strikeouts, but he was incredibly efficient with his pitch count. Through five innings, Keuchel had only thrown 51 pitches while protecting the White Sox’s 3-2 lead. In fact, after the Rosario home run, Keuchel retired 12 in a row.

However, Kid Keuchy ran into a ton of trouble in the sixth, as he allowed the first three hitters to reach base. After a seven-pitch walk to Yu Chang, Keuchel allowed a single to Jordan Luplow before walking Hernández to load the bases. That was enough for Tony La Russa to replace Keuchel with Evan Marshall.

Marshall missed with his first two pitches to José Ramirez to fall behind 2-0 in the count, and the White Sox were on the ropes. However, Marshall came right back and threw three straight clutch pitches to strike out Ramirez.

With one out, in stepped Franmil Reyes, who launched a deep drive to center, and it appeared to carry well until Luis Robert settled under it. Despite 103 mph exit velocity pushing the ball 382 feet, it was just a long out. Unfortunately, it was plenty deep enough to get the tying run home from third. However, Marshall managed to retire Rosario to preserve the 3-3 tie.

The bottom of the sixth began in nearly the exact same way as the top: The first three White Sox reached base safely, as Robert doubled, José Abreu walked, and Yoán Moncada singled to load the bases. However, the White Sox squandered this golden opportunity to retake the lead. Yermín Mercedes struck out when he was outguessed on a slider, and Yasmani Grandal grounded into a double play to end the threat.

Codi Heuer entered the game in the seventh, inheriting runners on first and second with two outs. Heuer took care of business and then some, not only stranding his inherited runners but also shutting Cleveland down in the eighth and ninth. The only hiccup came in the ninth, when Josh Naylor doubled with two outs.

The next batter, Roberto Pérez, appeared to hit a foul tip which Yasmani Grandal caught cleanly. But, a missed call resulted in Pérez getting another chance, as umpire Gabe Morales ruled that Grandal dropped it (he had possession but lost it on the transfer). Luckily, Heuer got the strikeout anyway to preserve the tie.

With the bases empty and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Yermín Mercedes ran out an infield single to start a rally. Grandal followed by displaying excellent patience to draw a walk, and what happened next was bizarre.

Cleveland’s Yu Chang chose to make a risky throw to second base, but he did not have a favorable angle to do so. In addition, the upside of retiring that runner versus taking the easy out at first was minimal. Chang paid for the mistake, as his throw hit Grandal’s helmet and bounced away. This allowed pinch runner Nick Madrigal to easily score the winning run.

The White Sox improved to 5-5, while Cleveland fell to 5-4. The White Sox are back in action tomorrow night, and that game is scheduled to begin at 7:10 p.m. CST. Leigh Allan will have your coverage here at South Side Sox.