Abreu, Sox bring 'playoff intensity,' fall in 10th

August 15th, 2021

CHICAGO -- The final moments of the Yankees’ 7-5 victory in 10 innings over the White Sox Saturday night before the first full-crowd sellout of the season at Guaranteed Rate Field had a very similar feel to Thursday night’s contest between these two teams.

Tim Anderson was at the plate with a chance to grab a second straight victory for the American League Central leaders against a New York closer other than Aroldis Chapman, who is on the injured list. But after his storybook walk-off home run against Zack Britton in the Field of Dreams Game in Dyersville, Iowa, on Thursday, Anderson was unable to come through in back-to-back games, this time with the bases loaded and two outs against Albert Abreu.

Of course, there also was no corn in the White Sox outfield like in Dyersville. Otherwise, it was once again a playoff-like atmosphere from start to finish.

“To me it feels, whatever playoff intensity would feel like, feels like these games right now,” said White Sox starter Dylan Cease, who struck out six over five innings and reached 103 pitches without allowing a walk. “We’re locked in every pitch, and I think they are, too. We can definitely feel that.”

“Just talking about this game today, it makes you feel very excited and proud to have this uniform on,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “The effort level from first pitch to the end, coming back, everything that happened, that's all you can ask a team to do. That was as good of an effort as a club can put there, and we came very close to winning it."

Very close, despite closer Liam Hendriks (7-3) giving up three runs (two earned) in the top of the 10th for a 7-4 Yankees lead. Aaron Judge, who homered off Craig Kimbrel in the eighth to produce the Yanks’ 4-3 advantage, singled home the go-ahead run, and Joey Gallo’s second home run of the game raised that advantage to three.

Hendriks has allowed seven runs (six earned) and three home runs to the Yankees (64-52) over 1 1/3 innings in two games. He has given up 11 home runs on the season in 50 innings pitched.

But the White Sox (68-49) were not finished against a shaky-looking Britton in the 10th. singled home a run, and walks to Brian Goodwin and Andrew Vaughn loaded the bases with one out and caused Yankees manager Aaron Boone to summon Albert Abreu. Pinch-hitter Seby Zavala lined out to first for the second out and Anderson’s grounder to third baseman Tyler Wade turned into a game-ending fielder’s choice at second.

“You could see clearly that both teams are putting a lot of importance on competing and winning the game,” La Russa said. “That makes for the best entertainment.

“Fans, I'm sure, are not happy we got beat, but they saw the home team do a bunch of great things. And on the other side, they're motivated. That's when the game is the best, when both teams are playing hard and making things happen.”

That extra inning was made possible by José Abreu’s two-out home run in the bottom of the ninth, coming as the culmination of an eight-pitch at-bat. It tied the game and was the 222nd blast of his career, moving Abreu into sole possession of third place on the White Sox career homer list and passing Hall of Famer Harold Baines (221). He trails only HOFer Frank Thomas (448) and Paul Konerko (432).

“About that last at-bat, that’s the José Abreu that we know,” said Robert, who also homered, through interpreter Billy Russo. “The José Abreu that thrives in those moments. He always does that. Unfortunately we didn’t get the victory today, but it was a good game, and that at-bat was a very exciting one.”

This game was filled with key moments that could have potentially turned the outcome. They ranged from Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner tracking down a long Zack Collins fly ball with the bases loaded to end the sixth to White Sox reliever Garrett Crochet striking out Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit in the top half of the inning.

It’s the same sorts of moments that are frequently witnessed in the postseason. Yet as great as this game played out, Robert didn’t quite equate it to the playoff atmosphere he went through against Oakland last year as a rookie.

“These two games have been important and exciting games, but the excitement and the pressure and the adrenaline you feel in those postseason games -- that’s something you can’t compare to regular-season games,” Robert said. “These two games have been exciting and intense, but nothing like postseason games.”

Both teams will have one more game Sunday for more regular-season excitement, and then maybe more pressure and adrenaline in October.