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Nova's good deeds undone by Tigers' late rally

Loss marks Chicago's first in 60 tries when leading after eight innings
@scottmerkin
September 28, 2019

CHICAGO – It took until Game No. 160 for the White Sox to lose for the first time when leading after eight innings. That’s right, the White Sox featured a 59-0 record when leading after eight innings entering the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Tigers at Guaranteed Rate

CHICAGO – It took until Game No. 160 for the White Sox to lose for the first time when leading after eight innings.

That’s right, the White Sox featured a 59-0 record when leading after eight innings entering the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field. They were the only team in baseball without a loss in that category, until John Hicks connected for a three-run pinch-hit home run off of closer Alex Colomé with one out in the ninth to give Detroit a 4-3 victory.

Box score

The White Sox won the opener, 7-1.

Ronny Rodriguez reached leading off the ninth on a Tim Anderson throwing error, his Major League-high 26th of the season. Travis Demeritte followed with a one-out single, and Hicks connected on a 1-2 cutter from Colomé with a line shot just fair down the left-field line.

“I tried to do the best I can,” said Colomé after his third blown save turned into his fifth loss. “I tried to throw that pitch in the dirt, and I missed, and it goes the other way. Just a mistake.”

“Today that pitch, I think he just left it back out over the middle,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “[Hicks] was able to get a hold of it.”

Yoán Moncada’s pinch-hit homer, his 25th of the season, brought the White Sox within one in the bottom of the ninth. But pinch-hitter Daniel Palka struck out following Zack Collins' long flyout to drop the White Sox to 71-89 with Sunday’s season finale remaining.

Iván Nova allowed one run on three hits over five innings in what could be his final start with the White Sox. He received strong relief from Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall, with Bummer limiting the Tigers to one run in the sixth upon entering the game with a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation.

Nova will be a free agent after this season. He seems to fit nicely at an oftentimes hitter-friendly Guaranteed Rate Field, posting a 5-1 record with a 1.17 ERA over his last seven home starts.

“I would love to be here. But it’s not on me,” Nova said. “There’s a lot of pieces that have to be in place. If I have the opportunity, I would come back. I was able to stay healthy the whole year, pitching every five days. I didn’t start really well this season, and I was able to pitch a lot better, especially in the second half.”

Young players such as Lucas Giolito, Moncada and Eloy Jiménez impressed Nova with their talent and growth during the course of the season, leaving the veteran well aware of the success potentially ahead for the White Sox.

Anderson also would be in that burgeoning-young-talent category, with the White Sox shortstop almost certain to win the American League batting title as his .337 mark after Saturday ranks well ahead of DJ LeMahieu's .329. The White Sox bullpen with Colomé, Bummer, Marshall and going as deep as Jimmy Cordero and Jace Fry has been a solid force as well, as shown by its unblemished record until Hicks connected off of Colomé.

“He's been excellent. We've loved him,” said Renteria of Colomé and his 30 saves. “Without him, we wouldn't be where we're at in terms of the games that we've had a chance to close out, and even other games in which we've used him in non-save situations.”

“We have a very good bullpen. That's why we have that record. Things happen, but we have a good bullpen. That's why we were 59-0,” Colomé said. “We are not tired. What happened today is not because we are tired. Sometimes you miss a pitch, and this is the result you get.”

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.