'Happy flight' home after Yanks win series

Voit's late homer helps New York hold off South Siders in ninth

August 16th, 2021

CHICAGO -- felt the sweet click against the barrel of his bat, skipping out of the batter’s box and raising his right index finger toward his teammates in the first-base dugout. That big swing felt good, though the Yankees could not have anticipated how important it would prove to be.

Voit’s ninth-inning blast provided necessary insurance on Sunday, and nothing has seemed to come easily for the Yankees of late. They had to sweat it out, seeing a four-run cushion halved in the bottom of the ninth, holding on for a 5-3 victory over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“I’m capable of doing a lot in this lineup,” Voit said. “I want to hit; I’m a good hitter. I want to help this team any way I can to win a championship. This year has been a tough ride for me, but I’ve just got to keep grinding.”

Wandy Peralta induced César Hernández to ground into a game-ending double play, pinning the potential tying runs on base as the Yankees won their 10th series of the last 11, improving to a season-high 13 games over .500 (65-52).

“Getting on a happy flight is always a good thing,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Our guys did a lot of really good things today. It got interesting there in the ninth, but this was a really good series. Guys just continue to pound away.”

The Yanks bounced back from a heartbreaking loss in the Field of Dreams Game in Dyersville, Iowa, to take two of three games from the first-place White Sox. They felt that this set had all the hallmarks -- and accompanying stress -- of a postseason matchup.

“It was a great series,” said infielder . “From the first game, both teams played really good. We never gave up. They scored runs, we scored runs. Our pitchers did a really good job in this game today.”

Nestor Cortes Jr. stymied the hard-hitting White Sox over six strong innings, scattering seven hits and striking out seven.

Using his variety of deliveries, the lefty had good life on his fastball and mixed in a good changeup to keep Chicago off balance, limiting the Pale Hose to an Andrew Vaughn homer as the Yanks won for the fifth time in the swingman’s six starts this season.

“It’s a very respectable lineup,” Cortes said. “I went in there and got the job done, gave them some length and came out with the ‘W.’ … I would love to wave a wand around and throw 97-98 [mph], but as long as I can get the job done, I’ll stick with what I’ve got.”

Goin’ deep
After a pair of entertaining slugfests to open the series, the Yanks struck out 16 times -- but they made their hits count. Odor sparked the offense with a two-run homer in the second inning off Lucas Giolito, who permitted three runs (two earned) over four innings.

“I’ve been helping the team a lot,” Odor said. “I’ve got to keep doing it. I’ve got to keep being myself and keep trying to push my teammates to win games.”

New York’s other run off Giolito came later in that second inning, when DJ LeMahieu singled, then dashed home on a Brett Gardner double that featured a throwing error.

What a relief
With Cortes done after 98 pitches, Boone had to pick up nine outs from a bullpen that has been far from a lock. Rookie Stephen Ridings missed the strike zone with his first five pitches, then recorded a strikeout and double-play grounder to end the seventh.

“Guys are getting an opportunity in some high-leverage spots and have come through for us,” Boone said. “These are guys we’re finding out some good things about. It’s creating a little bit of depth down there.”

Jonathan Loaisiga worked a scoreless eighth, navigating around Ridings’ leadoff walk and dotting the zone on a third strike to Eloy Jiménez that prompted White Sox manager Tony La Russa’s ejection. Voit’s homer coaxed Boone to entrust the four-run lead to Lucas Luetge.

Luetge retired only one of the four men he faced, allowing Zack Collins’ run-scoring double. Peralta permitted Tim Anderson’s run-scoring infield hit before Hernández bounced into a twin killing -- a fitting ending to a tough day for Hernandez, who committed three errors and had already bounced into one double play.

“I was extremely focused on the job at hand,” Peralta said through an interpreter. “In a situation like that, you’re pulling to execute the right pitch -- a ground ball for a double play. I was able to do that today and end the game there.”