Tony Las Russa stressed the importance of coming out strong after the All-Star break. So much so that he even addressed the team before they took the field on Friday night.
The Cleveland Guardians proceeded to steamroll the White Sox 8-2, bleeding Lucas Giolito to death with nine hits. The majority of those hits came on weak contact.
Saturday’s doubleheader provided the White Sox with an opportunity to bounce back. Yasmani Grandal put the White Sox ahead with an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth. The Guardians responded by scoring four runs off Johnny Cueto in the top of the fifth.
But the White Sox battled back. Josh Harrison drilled a double to right field to score Leury Garcia. Then Yoan Moncada doubled on a fly ball to left field to score Harrison. Andrew Vaughn kept the train moving with an RBI single to knot the game up at four runs apiece.
Tony La Russa opted to go with his All-Star closer in the ninth inning to keep the game tied. It backfired. Hendriks allowed his first run since May, and when the dust settled, the Guardians had put up a three spot.
Flash forward to Saturday night. AJ Pollock walked to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning. The scoreboard read 4-3, and the White Sox found themselves trailing once again after squandering a 3-0 lead.
Lance Lynn put the White Sox in a great position, only allowing three hits on 97 pitches and striking out six. But Jose Ruiz wasted the six scoreless innings from Lynn by coughing up the lead in the seventh. It could have been demoralizing if the White Sox were to drop this game.
With an 0-1 count, Guardians reliever Nick Sandlin tried to sneak a slider past Pollock. The 34-year-old veteran reached out and hit a rocket down the line. Andrew Vaughn and Jose Abreu scampered home, and the White Sox retook the lead.
This was Pollock’s biggest at-bat of the season. One reason the White Sox brought him in was his track record against right-handed pitchers. Things have not panned out this year, with Pollock hitting just .231 on the season and .215 against righties. But when the White Sox needed it most, Pollock delivered.
AJ Pollock for the lead. 👏 pic.twitter.com/DbFjSwvdUq
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 24, 2022
Joe Kelly got three outs to put him in line for the win, and Matt Foster slammed the door in the ninth for his first save of the season.
“That was huge. When you’re up the whole game and then give it up right there, it’s easy to roll over and give up,” Lance Lynn told reporters after the game. “That’s something we are not going to do.”
The White Sox still find themselves a game below .500 entering Sunday’s contest, with a chance to split the series and get back to level ground. They are four games back of the Minnesota Twins and two games behind the Guardians for second place in the AL Central. Dylan Cease is expected to take the ball for the White Sox.