I have had about 10 different scripts inside my head that I was going to write for this story, but the last thing I thought would be covering this kind of game going into the bottom of the ninth inning:
The Chicago White Sox have WON! The 10-game losing streak is officially over, and the brutal April schedule is OVA.
I’d love to jump right into that ninth inning and get my emotions out, but let’s start from the top to recap this whole thing, in case you missed it. The White Sox got the early lead in the bottom of the first with Drew Rasmussen on the mound after to back-to-back singles from Adam Haseley and Andrew Vaughn, which led to a Gavin Sheets sacrifice fly.
The Rays went without a run until the top of the fourth, although we knew they’d put runs on the board, eventually. Of course it happened in their usual home-run fashion, as Taylor Walls drove one out to right field to tie the game. The tie didn’t last long, as Luke Raley hit a home run immediately following, giving the Rays a 2-1 lead.
All hope was not lost! It took a few innings, but the White Sox were able to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth after an Eloy Jiménez leadoff single and a Yasmani Grandal two-run smash to turn the score around, 3-2.
Yaz also got his first go-around in the new home-run celebration costume, important to note.
Rasmussen’s day was over after the homer, as he went five innings with nine hits, three runs, and three strikeouts.
Joe Kelly got a chance on the mound fresh off of the IL, and he struck out the side in the top of the seventh inning.
The White Sox added on in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Haseley and Andrew Vaughn had one-out, back-to-back walks and Luis Robert Jr. made an appearance as a pinch-hitter for Sheets, only to get hit and load the bases. Jiménez singled to extend the lead 4-2 on a ball that squibbed between Isaac Paredes and Taylor Walls on the left side of the infield.
Reynaldo López started the top of the eighth with the lead — and that lead didn’t last long. Josh Lowe started it off with a walk and a steal, and Paredes singled to cut the lead to 4-3. Raley hit another home run, this time to take the lead, 5-4, and López was pulled due to injury. (Pedro Grifol said postgame López was dealing with a bicep issue, but it is too early to tell if he will spend some time on the IL or not.)
Kendall Graveman replaced ReyLo, but had the same outcome, as Christian Bethancourt hit a solo home run to extend the Rays lead to 6-4. Manuel Margot was hit by a pitch, as Graveman was clearly frustrated — and then the most rock-bottom of all rock-bottoming happened, as Romy González dropped a fly ball in left field off the bat of Lowe, to allow Margot to score. The Rays took a 7-4 lead.
At this point in the game, everyone collectively let out a big sigh of disappointment. The trolling tweets started to flow in. Yes, González had a great start in Spring Training, but has carry that over to the regular season. It will be interesting to see what happens with him when Tim Anderson is activated on Tuesday.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the White Sox got a much-needed break that may have been the secret spark of it all. Elvis Andrus doubled and advanced to third on a ground out by Lenyn Sosa, and Haseley had the classic RBI strikeout to cut the lead to 7-5 with two outs.
Aaron Bummer got the top of the ninth, but allowed a leadoff walk to Lowe, Paredes single, and Walls single to score another run at 8-5. Later, Bethancourt delivered a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 9-5 and give Tampa a four-run cushion going into the bottom of the ninth.
For the best team in the league against against a team on a 10-game losing streak that doesn’t seem to have anything going right for it right now, I’m sure everyone was thinking this was going to be a smooth bottom of the ninth.
But the White Sox said no.
(This is where it gets fun!)
Jalen Beeks started the inning for the Rays, who if you remember didn’t have the best outing against us when we visited Tampa (five walks). With one out Jiménez singled to left, and was replaced by Andrew Benintendi as a pinch-runner. (Jiménez had a great day at the plate, but Grifol did say after the game that he has been dealing with some sore legs.) States it was nothing too extreme but his bat is still important enough for him to be playing through it and taking it easy on the base path. Grandal was hit by a pitch, and Jake Burger hit a little bloop double to give the Sox a run and cut the lead to 9-6. We love bloop ball!
Oscar Colás hit a sacrifice fly to score Grandal and cut the lead to 9-7, but with two outs the odds were looking low.
Andrus, who had a good day at the plate, extended the rally with a single to score Jake Burger and cut the lead to 9-8. Interesting, but it’s the White Sox ... they don’t win games like this, remember?
OK, well then Sosa hit a single to put runners back on first and second with two outs. Tying run is at second now ... that’s really interesting.
Beeks would end his day after that, and a second lefty Garrett Cleavinger would try to close out the game.
Haseley was due up, and I will admit had some doubters in the leadoff position today (me). With two outs, two strikes, game on the line, he delivered with a single to center to tie the game.
Wow! That happened? But there’s no way they actually end it next batter up, after coming all the way back, right? Who is even left to pitch if we go into extra innings?
No need for any of that, because Andrew Vaughn stepped to the plate. With two strikes again, Vaughn send an absolute shot out to left field to end the game. Not only was it a walkoff, it was a HOME RUN!
"A lot of joy and a little bit of Gatorade." pic.twitter.com/gySgNSkX3P— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 30, 2023
And we finally got one of these.
Back in the win column. pic.twitter.com/Eo2VBRvhDo— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 30, 2023
Sometimes there are no ways to describe baseball and today was one of those days, but I cannot think of something that was as needed as that win. Not only does it end the 10-game losing streak, but it puts the team into a good headspace going into the off-day and series against the Minnesota Twins.
Credit to Haseley and Vaughn in the first two spots of the lineup. They seemed to be included in a lot of the offensive talk this afternoon, and came through when it was most needed.
Unfortunately, the White Sox are still 8-21, but you can’t win them all back at once. Sorry to rain on the parade, but it’s true. The team gets to enjoy the win for a little today, but the next step is chipping away at the deficit. They officially went all of April without a series win or a winning streak. With Anderson back on Tuesday that sounds like a good start toward just that, a winning streak. Let’s hope that April was just some cursed month and May is a fresh start.
I also want to say you’re welcome, I must have been good luck for the game today.
Chuck Garfien also exclaimed that he was going to “break his face on the desk” if they lost, so good thing we saved him from that.
Also, here is some good injury news to wrap it up today.
LHP Garrett Crochet is on the mound to begin the 7th!— Birmingham Barons (@BhamBarons) April 30, 2023
Crochet is currently with Birmingham on a MLB Rehab assignment from the White Sox.
I’m sure we need an off-day from all of this, as do the players, so everyone enjoy a stress-free day tomorrow. We will be back at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday, as Joe Ryan and Michael Kopech go head-to-head at 6:10 p.m. CT.