Sunday, July 3, 2022

White Sox Rally To Steal Marathon Game From Blue Jays

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With two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning, Josh Harrison was trying to be the hero. At stake was a chance to return the White Sox to .500 and avoid having to burn another relief pitcher. On a 1-2 count, he connected with a looping 79 mph slider low in the zone, sending a line drive to center field.



Three innings earlier, AJ Pollock thought he had ended the game with a line drive to center field. But Blue Jays center fielder Bradley Zimmer came racing in to make a diving catch which robbed Pollock of a game-winning hit and sent the game to extra innings.

This time the ball landed safely in center field. As Jose Abreu came barreling home to score from second base a sense of relief washed over Guaranteed Rate Field. Harrison’s teammates rushed the field to celebrate as fireworks shot off in the distance. His walk-off ended a four-hour and 23-minute marathon out in the muggy 96-degree heat.

Clutch Hitting

It was a moment that almost did not happen. The White Sox were trailing by two runs in the ninth inning against one of the league’s best closers, Jordan Romano.

Romano wasn’t sharp. He walked Harrison to open the frame but was able to induce a double play to bring the Blue Jays within one out of winning the game. Tim Anderson drew a walk to keep the rally alive and Andrew Vaughn doubled to add some hope. With runners on second and third Luis Robert singled through the right side of the infield while the Blue Jays were implementing a heavy shift. His clutch hit tied the game at four runs apiece.

The White Sox received more clutch hitting in the 10th. With one out and the White Sox trailing once again, Danny Mendick hit an RBI single to score AJ Pollock. This tied the game at five. In the 12th inning, Robert came up big once again, with a sac fly to tie the game with one out in the 11th.

Some may call a game like this stressful. Not the White Sox. They were having a blast.

“That might be the most fun one we’ve had this year,” Cease told reporters after the game. “To be down late, then come back and hang in there, and ultimately win it late, I think those are the types of ballgames that will get you into the playoffs at the end of the year.”

“Those are fun games to be part of,” Josh Harrison added, “Especially when you win.”

Cease’s Slider Was Unhittable

In total, the White Sox offense was able to muster 15 hits en route to a 7-6 win. While the bats were hot Dylan Cease’s slider may have been hotter. Cease felt unhittable on the mound and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

It was arguably Cease’s best start of the season. He tied a career-high 11 strikeouts. He opened the game with five swinging strikeouts, all off his slider. In fact, all eleven of his strikeouts came via the slider as well as 18 of the 20 swings and misses he recorded. His final line was six innings, no runs, one hit, and two walks. The only hit he allowed was an infield to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. He lowered his ERA to 2.68.

“It feels like if I get it in the zone, I’m pretty much unhittable,” Cease said after his dominating performance. “So, that’s kinda what I was rolling with today.”

The key to Cease’s success was his command. He has always had great stuff but sometimes location alludes him. Tuesday night was a perfect example of what happens when everything is in synch for the 26-year-old.

“Being able to get it to that down and away quadrant consistently, I just think as a hitter it’s hard to lay off that,” Cease said. “Then, throwing strikes with it as well just puts them in swing mode.”

The victory moved the White Sox to 33-33 on the year and brought them just 3.5 games back from first place in the AL Central.

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