It’s baseball in the middle of July on the Southside. If you were just listening to the crowd noise you would think it’s October. It’s beginning to feel a lot like playoff baseball.
A day after Gavin Sheets hit a walk-off home run to send the home crowd into a frenzy, the White Sox riled the fans up once more. After blowing a 4-1 lead and trailing 5-4 in the eighth inning the White Sox staged an exhilarating comeback.
Andrew Vaughn came on to pinch-hit and was greeted by a rousing ovation. “I definitely felt it,” Vaughn said. It was one of those you could hear, but also kinda shakes you a little bit because it’s so loud. It was a dang cool feeling.”
Vaughn returned the favor by driving a base hit to center field. Engel beat the throw home with a diving slide to avoid the tag. Then Billy Hamilton stepped to the plate with the go-ahead runner on second. He needed a moment to calm his nerves but delivered. On the first pitch, he saw he slapped a single to left field that brought the crowd to their feet once again as the go-ahead run crossed the plate.
“It was one of those situations where I had to calm my nerves. I kind of get antsy and want to do too much,” Hamilton explained. “I was just like ‘Calm down and get a nice little base hit.’ That whole inning, the guys never give up. ”
Tony La Russa talked about what these big at-bats did to the stadium. “Billys, that lit the place up. In the stands and in the dugout.”
The comeback was capped off by a three-run homer from Jose Abreu that had 35th and Shields rocking.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 21, 2021
“You could just feel the energy. You could feel the crowd. Everybody in the dugout was pumped up,” Liam Hendriks said after the game. “As soon as Pito hit that bomb I think that was the icing on the cake right there.”
White Sox fans have often been ragged about their empty stadium due to lack of attendance. Since the All-Star break, you could have fooled me. In their first three games against the Astros, the White Sox drew crowds over 34,000. In their series against Minnesota, the stadium has been electric.
The players have taken notice. “Ever since that first Friday game back, it’s kind of been more electric, and that’s what we want,” Dallas Keuchel said Tuesday night. “We’re going to keep playing well, and hopefully we can get some more rowdy fans like that.”
The team is giving fans good reason to be excited. Despite being hampered by injuries the White Sox keep finding guys to step up. They find new and exciting ways to win on a daily basis, whether it’s hitting a walk-off home run to steal a victory or scoring five runs in the eighth inning to come from behind. The White Sox are blitzing through the American League Central and playing with confidence.
The White Sox are on the verge of getting Eloy Jimenz and Luis Robert back in the lineup which continues to add to the excitement. Guaranteed Rate Field is now the center of the baseball world in Chicago. The crowds are growing bigger, louder, and rowdier.
With the way the team is playing it should only continue for the rest of the summer. “I’m confident we’re going to take our best shot from here to the end,” Tony La Russa said. “They’re not going to back off.”