In the bottom of the first, Andrew Vaughn lined a single to right against Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi. That set the table for Eloy Jiménez, who stepped up to the plate with one out. Jiménez did what he does better than perhaps everything else, which is smacking a fastball to the opposite field for a home run. Eloy’s ninth home run of the season went 400 feet, and it propelled the White Sox to an early 2-0 lead.
After escaping the first inning after the Rangers put two in scoring position, Dylan Cease cruised through the second and third. When Adolis García batted in the fourth, Cease had retired eight in a row. However, García decided that enough was enough, and he crushed a 395-foot line drive that cleared the left field wall by plenty. Cease hung a knuckle-curve, and García made the blast look easy.
In the fifth, Travis Jankowski drew a leadoff walk, and although Leody Taveras struck out, Marcus Semien singled to put runners on first and second. The dangerous Corey Seager stepped up, and he crushed a double to center that was over Clint Frazier’s head. Although Frazier got to the ball quickly, Jankowski scored, and the game was tied at two. Cease retired Jung and García to retire the side and preserve the tie.
The White Sox rallied in the bottom of the fifth, as a home run was hit by someone you probably would not expect: Elvis Andrus found a pitch to his liking and smoked a solo shot to left-center, and the White Sox had the lead once again.
Later in the inning, Zach Remillard and Andrew Benintendi hit back-to-back singles, so the South Siders had runners on the corners with one out. Andrew Vaughn hit a high chopper to third, and there was enough air time that the Rangers were unable to turn a double play. Vaughn was out at first, but Remillard scored to make it 4-2.
After a perfect sixth inning, Cease’s quality start came to a close. He finished with six innings, two runs allowed (both earned), five hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts. With this performance, Cease lowered his ERA to 4.22 and his FIP to 4.01. He has accumulated 19 strikeouts in his last two starts.
With Keynan Middleton on the mound, the top of the seventh got off to an ominous start. Jankowski and Taveras led off the inning with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners. That brought the Rangers back to the top of the order, and Semien worked a nine-pitch plate appearance before drawing a walk to load the bases. Seager followed with a grounder to the right side that was just out of Remillard’s outstretched glove. Suddenly, the game was tied at four, and Middleton was out of the game.
Inheriting a precarious situation, Gregory Santos took over on the mound. The first batter Santos faced was Jung, who hit a grounder to shortstop on a good slider. The White Sox appeared to have a chance at a 6-4-3 double play, but Andrus bobbled the grounder, and everyone was safe. At that point, even though the game was tied, it felt as though Texas may as well have a four-run lead, especially with García due up next.
Santos made another good pitch to García that resulted in a grounder to third. Jake Burger threw home to get the force out for out No. 1. Santos proceeded to strike out Nathaniel Lowe on an excellent slider, and after falling behind 3-1 to Jonah Heim, the rookie came back to get Heim to ground out. Texas had scored two runs in the inning to tie the game, but it could have been so, so much worse.
With the game still tied at four, Santos retired the first batter he faced in the eighth, but Jankowski and Taveras hit back-to-back singles again. Semien flew out, but with Santos having already thrown 29 pitches and with a left-handed batter coming up, Aaron Bummer took over. Left-handed batters entered this game with a slash line of .296/.387/.407 against Bummer, and the results were not ideal for the South Siders. Seager sliced a double that scored both base runners, and just like that, Texas had a 6-4 lead.
Unlike many other games this season, however, the White Sox did not go down quietly. With one out, Luis Robert Jr. drew a seven-pitch walk, and Yasmani Grandal singled. José Rodríguez made his MLB debut by taking over as as Grandal’s pinch-runner. In an expected twist, Tim Anderson pinch-hit for Frazier, and he grounded out to second, although the productive out advanced the runners to second and third. That brought up Andrus, who hit a soft grounder to the right side, and per Baseball Savant, 87% of the time it would have been out No. 3. However, this was the White Sox’s night, and the chopper got through for a base hit. Robert and Rodríguez scored, and Andrus advanced to second on the throw home.
Then, in one of the crazier plays we have seen recently, Remillard sliced another clutch single. But that was not the crazy part, as Remillard has already gotten quite a few clutch hits in his young MLB career. Andrus rounded third on an aggressive send home, and Jankowski made a fantastic throw home to narrowly cut Andrus down.
Well, at least that was what we initially thought.
With nothing to lose, the White Sox challenged the close call, and incredibly, the umpires ruled that Heim, the catcher, interfered with Andrus. As a result, even though the tag beat Andrus, he was safe, and the White Sox had a 7-6 lead.
At first glance, it appeared to be a clean play by Heim, so the interference call baffled many. However, we are sure to gain clarification in the coming days, as this play will be discussed often.
Kendall Graveman retired all three batters he faced in the ninth, so the White Sox held on for a 7-6 victory. Tomorrow’s game will be the rubber match in this three-game series. Michael Kopech and Martin Pérez are the probable starting pitchers, and as usual, NBC Sports Chicago and WMVP 1000 AM will have the coverage.