NEW YORK -- It took three seventh-inning pitches from Yankees reliever Michael King to turn a one-run Chicago deficit into a 6-5 victory during Game 1 of a doubleheader Thursday, producing a fifth straight win for the White Sox (28-36).
That streak ended in the nightcap via a 3-0 Yankees win, leaving manager Pedro Grifol’s crew 3 1/2 games behind the Twins in the American League Central after making up Wednesday’s game, which was postponed due to dangerous air quality caused by smog coming from Canadian fires.
Luis Robert Jr. opened that seventh inning with a double down the left-field line after just missing extra bases in that same locale on the previous pitch. Eloy Jiménez hit the next offering, a 92.3 mph sinker, for his sixth home run and the White Sox fourth of the game. That drive carried 416 feet to center with a .970 expected batting average, according to Statcast.
And what was Jiménez thinking in that at-bat? Win the game.
“Just bring Robert to home plate,” said a smiling Jiménez. “Thank god I did.”
Unfortunately for the White Sox, Jiménez was injured running out a potential double-play grounder in the ninth inning of Game 2. Grifol termed it a lower left leg issue felt as soon as Jiménez left the batter’s box, listing him as day to day and adding that he would be evaluated when the team returned home Friday.
Yoán Moncada and Robert Jr. also went deep in Game 1 of the doubleheader, marking the first time in their careers the trio has homered in the same game when they have each had at least one plate appearance, including the playoffs. Jake Burger, who walked off Sunday’s victory with a grand slam and didn’t play Tuesday, launched a two-run shot in the second off Luis Severino, giving him two homers and six RBIs in his last three pitches seen.
Gregory Santos, Joe Kelly, Reynaldo López and Kendall Graveman finished off the victory with four scoreless innings in relief of Lance Lynn. Graveman stretched his streak of scoreless outings to 15 straight, but not without a brief ninth-inning scare.
New York (37-27) put runners on first and second with nobody out and Gleyber Torres just missed a game-winning hit down the right-field line that curled foul. Torres eventually popped out to first baseman Andrew Vaughn, and Anthony Rizzo grounded into a game-ending double play.
That double play was challenged by New York manager Aaron Boone based on his belief that shortstop Tim Anderson missed second base as he completed the turn. But the call stood in replay.
“Sometimes, in dealing with that for the last three years, sometimes the angles they show on the board are not the angles these guys got at headquarters,” Grifol said. “There was another angle we felt really good about that the call was going to stand.”
Mike Clevinger (3-4) suffered the second-game loss, basically getting beat on two mistake pitches resulting in Torres’ two-run homer and a solo blast from Billy McKinney. The White Sox managed just two singles, missing on an opportunity with two on in the first against Randy Vásquez and settling for a hard-fought series win.
“Any time you win two out of three, it’s a good series … after it’s done,” Grifol said. “We come in and win the first two, you want to win the third one, too.”
“We’re really close,” Clevinger said. “And we know we have the team to do it.”
Close, as in a 21-15 record for the White Sox over their last 36 and a 5-1 mark in June. Close, as in percentage points ahead of Detroit in third place for the first time since April 16 when they were 6-10.
No team in the AL Central has a record above .500, which is keeping the White Sox afloat. They also are healthy, minus the Jiménez issue, and playing better baseball.
“It feels good. It feels fun,” Jiménez said. “When you win, it feels good. It sucks when you lose.”
“As the season goes on, you have to get on runs like this and win five in a row. The offense was able to bail me out today,” Lynn said. “I gave up a lot of runs with two outs. I have to be better with two outs than I was today. It could have been a different ballgame for me, but the offense came back and the bullpen did a hell of job at the end.”