Andrew Vaughn tied the game, Billy Hamilton gave the White Sox the lead and José Abreu put the finishing touches on a stunning eighth inning, fueling a 9-5 win over the Twins on Tuesday.
For the second straight game, the White Sox (58-37) survived a scare from the AL Central foe. They had their backs against the wall, but once again, came up with a game-clinching rally. The eighth-inning surge covered up a bullpen in dire need of help before the trade deadline, too.
At one point, the White Sox held a 4-1 lead, but the Twins steadily withered away at it where it was a one-run game for Ryan Burr in the eighth inning. Instead of sending Liam Hendriks out for a six-out save against the heart of the Twins lineup, Burr conceded a leadoff single to Josh Donaldson, followed by Jorge Polanco sending a 361-foot homer into right field to give the Twins a 5-4 lead.
The White Sox hadn’t scored since the third inning, but Adam Engel and Zack Collins drew back-to-back one-out walks in the bottom of the eighth. Andrew Vaughn pinch-hit for Seby Zavala, and sent an outside slider into center field, as Engel sprinted around the bases and contorted his slide around a diving Mitch Garver to tie the game, 5-5.
We'd like to renew our membership to the A.V. Club. pic.twitter.com/7KiOz7tGMj— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 21, 2021
After Tim Anderson’s strikeout, which ended his 16-game hit streak, Billy Hamilton stepped to the plate for the first time. He came in as a defensive replacement for Gavin Sheets earlier in the game, but Billy the Hitter proved his worth at the plate. Twins closer Hansel Robles left a 4-seam fastball over the heart of the plate, which the right-handed Hamilton shot into left field to give the White Sox’s a one-run lead.
Abreu drove an 89.2 mph inside changeup into the left-field bleachers in the next at-bat. It left his bat at a game-high 107.9 mph and traveled 384 feet, with the MVP rounding the bases with the South Siders leading 9-5. In the blink of an eye, the White Sox had launched from a potential loss to not even a save opportunity for Liam Hendriks.
Still, Hendriks entered the game, and the reliable closer shut down the Twins. He struck out a pair of batters around a walk to Garver. And to end the contest, Yoán Moncada, who was a triple short of the cycle, made a nice play to throw out Donaldson on a high chopper, which replay later overturned into the final out.
However, the White Sox’s eighth inning and Hendriks’ 20-pitch outing came after the South Siders looked poised to lose the game for the prior four frames after building an early 4-1 advantage.
At the start, Bailey Ober needed a mound visit before he reached 20 pitches. The White Sox capitalized on receiving an extra out when Anderson reached on an error, as a couple of batters later Abreu doubled him home, followed by Brian Goodwin’s RBI single making it 2-0. Anderson’s scoring streak reached 13 games.
But the first of three Twins homers cut the deficit in half in the second inning. Max Kepler jumped on a sinker that caught too much of the plate, sending it into the right-field bleachers for a 406-foot blast that ended his 0-for-16 stretch.
In the third inning, Abreu tripled to left field, as Luis Arráez fell trying to field his line drive, which allowed the ball to roll to the wall. Then, Moncada hit his third homer in the past four games, extending the lead to 4-1. Moncada had four hard-hit balls, including three batted balls of at least 103.5 mph.
It was the last time the White Sox scored until the eighth inning. Ober lasted five innings, allowing four runs (three earned), five hits and striking out four batters.
The White Sox grounded into a double play in the fourth inning, and then stranded five runners on base between the sixth and seventh frames. It included having the bases loaded with one out in the sixth inning, but Collins struck out and Zavala couldn’t beat out a slow roller in no-man’s land between the mound and third base.
As the White Sox stalled with runners in scoring position, the Twins slowly worked their way back in the game. Miguel Sanó hit a leadoff double in the fifth inning, while Gilberto Celestino drew a 10-pitch walk. Andrelton Simmons singled home Minnesota’s second run in the next at-bat, but Dallas Keuchel retired the next three batters, including a strikeout of Nelson Cruz on three pitches to end the frame.
Keuchel’s start didn’t have the same pizazz as the top arms of the White Sox’s rotation, but he gave them a chance to win, with five innings of two-run baseball that included six strikeouts. The offense just stalled, and the bullpen struggled.
That included a rare poor outing from Michael Kopech. Donaldson homered to make it a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning, as Kopech couldn’t find the strike zone and worked many three-ball counts. He still recorded five straight outs, including four via the strikeout, but he wasn’t as crisp as we’re used to seeing, as one of the few reliable arms in the bullpen.
It culminated in back-to-back walks in the seventh inning, and Cruz was given another chance to be Minnesota’s hero. The White Sox killer hit a liner on a curveball in the top of the zone, with Goodwin making a diving grab to maintain the lead.
It set the table for the back-and-forth finish, making sure Polanco’s go-ahead blast wasn’t more detrimental. The White Sox have holes to fill by the end of the month, but they’re still a fun bunch to watch in the meantime.
This team is something else. pic.twitter.com/l0RkRzoH1y— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 21, 2021
The White Sox go for another series win over the Twins at 7:10 p.m. on Wednesday, before a day off on Thursday.