CHICAGO -- When is a home run not a home run?
White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu found out on Friday night during a 12-11 victory over the Tigers punctuated by Tim Anderson's first career walk-off home run. Abreu connected for what looked like his second home run of the game against Tigers reliever Reed Garrett, a three-run blast with one out in the seventh giving the White Sox an apparent 12-10 lead after they trailed, 8-1, 9-2, and 10-4.
But Abreu’s high drive caused Anderson to go back to first base to tag up in case it was caught in left-center, and in the process, Abreu overran him at first. The Tigers challenged the play, and Abreu was ruled out. He was credited with a two-run single, making the score 11-10, and giving him four hits and five RBIs -- raising his RBI total to 14 over the past six games.
“I made a mistake. … It was my mistake,” Abreu said through interpreter Billy Russo. “When I hit the ball, I just thought it was a regular fly ball to the warning track and I didn’t see TA. I take full responsibility for that. I felt bad, but we won the game and that’s what matters.”
“I've never seen that. That was crazy. That was different,” Anderson said. “He kind of shocked me. I didn't expect him to be that far. But we were able to get the win. So, it was good.”
“That's the first time I've ever seen it,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “[Abreu] got lost in the emotion a little bit. Tim was still playing the game, he saw the ball deep, he thought he would have to tag up, and retreated. Pito passed him up.”
The home run turned single marked one of the interesting moments to come from this series opener lasting 4 hours, 2 minutes.
The last time the White Sox walked off in a game in which they allowed 11-plus runs was on Oct. 3, 1991, in a 13-12 victory over the Twins. The last time the Sox won any nine-inning game while allowing 11-plus was July 9, 2006, in a 13-11 win at Baltimore. And the last time the Tigers lost a nine-inning game while scoring 11-plus runs was June 1, 2007, at Cleveland in another 12-11 final (all courtesy of Baseball Reference.)
Lost in the shuffle was White Sox left fielder Eloy Jimenez suffering a right ankle sprain while chasing a Grayson Greiner homer in the third, and a poor outing from ace Carlos Rodon. The southpaw yielded eight runs on nine hits and three walks over three-plus innings, while striking out five, but he needed 85 pitches in another short start by Chicago’s rotation.
“Listen, it’s definitely not what [the starters] want to do,” said Rodon, who fell to 0-4 with an 11.14 ERA over his last five starts at Guaranteed Rate Field. “Our job description is to go six innings and keep that other team at bay, and let our offense do the work. Recently, we have not been good. I hope to see us improve.”
As Rodon quickly pointed out, all finished well on Friday with the White Sox largest comeback since overcoming a seven-run deficit on June 13, 2016, against Detroit. Chicago has hit 20 home runs over 12 games against American League Central opponents this season and could have had one more if not for one of Friday’s great oddities.
“It was just a crazy game,” Abreu said. “But I think all the guys stayed positive about the game and they didn’t quit. And at the end, we got the win.”