Tyler Saladino singled to center in the bottom of the ninth inning against Mike Montgomery, scoring J.B. Shuck from second to the give the White Sox a 5-4 victory over the Cubs in the first game of the season between the city’s crosstown rivals before a sellout crowd at U.S. Cellular Field.
It was the third walk-off victory in a row for the Sox (49-50), who hadn’t won three games in a row in their last at-bat since August 1962, according to STATS LLC.
The Cubs had rallied from a 4-0 deficit and scored two in the ninth against the Sox depleted bullpen to tie tie it. Closer David Robertson and Nate Jones were unavailable because of recent heavy workloads.
Todd Frazier’s three-run homer against Jake Arrieta in the sixth gave the Sox a 4-0 lead.
“We sure would like to win by five or six, but with the way we’ve been going, we’ll take any win we can get,” said Frazier, who has 29 homers. “Eventually, ride that horse and keep on rolling and start winning games without walk-offs. We’re getting back in that fun zone again.”
Javy Baez answered Frazier’s homer to center with a homer to left, cutting the Sox lead in half at 4-2, and the Cubs tied it in the ninth with on RBI singles by Dexter Fowler and Anthony Rizzo against Matt Albers.
Saladino, playing in place of second baseman Brett Lawrie (hamstring) doubled down the left field line against Arietta, and Adam Eaton lined a single near the right field line to score Saladino with the game’s first run in the bottom of the third.
Miguel Gonzalez, who entered with a 2.77 ERA over his previous four starts, pitched six scoreless innings before the Cubs got him for two in the seventh. After Baez’ homer, Gonzalez retired Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant before Sox manager Robin Ventura brought in left-hander Zach Duke to face Anthony Rizzo.
In the top of the first inning, Baez became the third out when he was thrown out at home by Saladino, the second baseman, on Bryant’s single to left fielder Melky Cabrera. Cabrera’s throw missed the cutoff man and carried all the way to Dioner Navarro, the Sox catcher. When Bryant got hung up between first and second, Baez broke for home and was out, but it took a one-hand scoop of Saladino’s low throw and a scrambling tag after Baez leaped to avoid the tag.
Baez had advance to second when Eaton, the right fielder’ overran his soft bloop single.
Cabrera took a run away from Bryant in the first inning when he reached above the yellow line on top of the left field fence to snag a fly ball.