White Sox write unexpected ending to thriller
Offense comes alive with four-run ninth
CHICAGO -- Robin Ventura had the media in mind when he sat down for his postgame press conference following a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Indians on Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Rewriting for you guys?" said Ventura with a smile.
Luckily for Ventura's charges, the script changed in the ninth inning from the lifeless offense featured over the first eight. Trevor Bauer, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Shaw limited the White Sox (5-7) to four hits and seven baserunners, with 30 men coming to the plate for the White Sox over that stretch. Bauer needed only 16 pitches to retire six straight in the fifth and sixth innings combined.
Fortunes didn't seem to be changing when Adam LaRoche took a called-third strike from closer Cody Allen to start the ninth, but then they did. Seven straight hitters reached base, and the White Sox scored four times to erase a three-run lead.
Avisail Garcia doubled to right. Conor Gillaspie walked. Alexei Ramirez, sitting on 99 career homers, crushed a drive straightaway that was definitely catchable for a center fielder with defensive capabilities such as Michael Bourn or even Michael Brantley, who was stationed in left. But Mike Aviles, primarily an infielder throughout his career, could not come up with Ramirez's double, which scored two runs.
Tyler Flowers singled, and Gordon Beckham singled on the next pitch to tie the game. Adam Eaton, mired in a 6-for-46 slump to start the season, singled to left to load the bases, and Melky Cabrera came through on a 3-2 fastball with a walk-off single to left.
"I'm just trying to make contact and put the ball in play," said Cabrera through interpreter and White Sox Spanish language broadcaster Billy Russo.
"Left some balls up. Got a little predictable," Allen said. "Some good hitters, man. Hitting's contagious. Couple hits, they were kind of racing to the bat rack there at the end."
Just as the White Sox refused to panic over an offense that scored a mere 38 runs over its first 11 games, they can't exactly declare themselves fixed courtesy of one powerful finish. But it was a game the White Sox needed.
There already was a feeling of excitement, despite the wind and cold, with top prospect Carlos Rodon getting a Major League callup. He did not appear in the victory, with John Danks delivering the team's fifth quality start and David Robertson (1-1) earning the victory with his ninth and 10th strikeouts over five innings for the White Sox.
Both of those hurlers were left to watch the excitement as the White Sox built momentum they hope to carry over the remainder of this seven-game homestand.
"It's a heck of a ninth inning," Danks said. "That was fun to watch."
"To be able to come back in the ninth inning off of anybody is always good momentum for guys to score late," Ventura said. "But especially as flat as that was, it shows you it can happen at any time."