Banks celebrates first MLB save as Sox snap skid

September 17th, 2023

CHICAGO -- The White Sox ended a six-game losing streak against the Twins and a four-game losing streak overall with a 7-6 victory Saturday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

That victory, improving the South Siders to 57-92, did not come easily, with , and throwing a combined 60 pitches over the final two innings to ultimately hold what was a 7-1 lead entering the eighth.

So, when Willi Castro popped out to first baseman Andrew Vaughn in foul territory with the bases loaded to end the third game of the four-game set, Banks raised his hands straight up in the air.

Tanner Banks celebrates after recording his first MLB save against the Twins on Saturday night. (Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

It was a move signifying victory. It was a move signifying relief. It was a move holding an even funnier reason for the left-handed reliever.

“Kind of a funny dialogue on that,” a smiling Banks said, after retrieving the final out baseball from his first career save. “In talking to the team photographer, Darren Georgia, he always jokes that I don’t have any emotion when I come off the field.

“I was like, ‘I have to do something. I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ We’ll just throw our hands up and celebrate and whatever comes out, comes out.”

There hasn’t been much for the White Sox to celebrate while playing out one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory. But on Saturday, after the Twins (78-71) jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first, the White Sox struck for five in the bottom of the frame against Minnesota starter Pablo López.

All five runs came with two outs, after López had allowed four earned runs over his last 20 innings combined and struck out 14 in his last start against the Mets. Eloy Jiménez went deep for a 2-1 lead and Gavin Sheets followed with a three-run blast on an 0-2 curve, giving him double-digit homers in each of his three big league campaigns.

“[López is] a really good pitcher, he’s got really good stuff,” Sheets said. “To be able to jump on him there, especially the way Touki [Toussaint] was throwing the ball, it gave him some confidence and he went out and attacked, which was huge for us. I was just fortunate to catch it out front and make good contact with it.

“But that’s one of those situations where you just try to back the baseball off and try to put something in play, especially with [runners on] first and second. Got a pitch to do it there and made some good contact.”

Toussaint (4-7) struck out eight over five innings, washing away his last start where the Royals scored eight off him in 1-plus innings of work. Every White Sox starter but Luis Robert Jr. had at least one hit, with Tim Anderson leading the way via three hits, two runs scored and one RBI.

Anderson has a .370 average over his seven-game hitting streak as, much like his team, he searches for a strong finish to a rough season.

"We talk about him a lot here,” said White Sox manager Pedro Grifol of Anderson. “He’s always one swing away, one at-bat away from finding himself and he works to no end, so this doesn’t surprise me the fact that he goes out there and gets three knocks and he’s on a little streak.

“Is he the same guy as he was before? He can be. He can be like this. Just got to finish strong. Finish strong, have a nice offseason and come back ready to go.”

Saturday’s victory won’t change the White Sox overall fortunes. Not even close. As Banks’ arm raise indicated, it certainly felt rewarding in the moment.

“[We are] just continuing to play hard and finishing on a positive note as a team,” Sheets said. “String together wins like this, string together team wins, good pitching, good hitting. And that’s the biggest thing: Just finish on a high note as a team and take some kind of positive momentum into the offseason.”