White Sox rally for 4 runs in 9th to defeat Indians
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Eleven games of disappointing baseball wasn’t enough for panic. But Rick Hahn also knew what had been going on could not last much longer for White Sox, who are probably playing in one of the tougher divisions in baseball.
“We didn’t get off to the start we wanted,’’ the general manager said before the Sox opened an important seven game home stand against the Cleveland Indians. “We’ve shown flashes of being the team we think we can be. We’ve also shown a little too frequently over the last 11 games hiccups or blemishes that we need to clean up pretty quickly.’’
The Sox were an inning away from falling to 4-8 Monday, getting shut out through eight innings and looking flat doing it. But a six-hit barrage, capped by Melky Cabrera’s deep walkoff single to left-center field, capped a four-run rally against Cody Allen and gave them a 4-3 victory.
After Adam LaRoche struck out for the third time to open the inning, Avisail Garcia doubled and Conor Gillaspie walked. Alexei Ramirez then doubled in two runs, Gordon Beckham singled in the tying run after a Tyler Flowers single and Adam Eaton singled to load the bases for Cabrera.
“A huge win for us,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “Thank God we won.”
Those who stuck around long enough among the paid crowd of 13,055 on a chilly night watched Sox players sprint from the dugout to mob Cabrera and celebrate a win. Closer David Robertson, pitching an inning because he needed the work due to recent inactivity, struck out two in a perfect ninth to improve to 1-0 while keeping his ERA at 0.00.
Trevor Bauer pitched seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts, keeping a slumping Sox lineup in their ongoing funk. And then, against Allen, there was life. Life that manager Robin Ventura hopes will last for a while.
“I hope a lot,” Ventura said when asked if a rally like this can get his team going. “To be able to come back in the ninth inning off of anybody is always good momentum. But especially as flat as that was, it shows you it can happen at any time.”
Defense, baserunning and hitting had left much to be desired in the Sox’ first 11 games. The Sox even have botched up replay challenge on their list of dirty laundry.
“I still very much believe in this team’s potential, this team’s upside,’’ Hahn said before the game. “Certainly from the offensive side, I don’t think we’ve begun to scratch the surface of what we’re capable of doing other than the Saturday [a 12-3 win] in Detroit. It’s still early, we’re still climbing to where we need to be, but we also know it’s time to get going.’’
Hahn believes a team reveals its true identity after about 60 games, but “that doesn’t mean you ignore what happens in the first 10, 20 or 30 games.
“We want to see more signs of progress and fewer mistakes.’’
Throw out the 12-run game and the Sox have averaged 2.5 runs in the other 10, but they believe the offense will pick up when Adam Eaton gets going. Eaton struck out twice but walked twice and singled in the ninth.
“Yeah, I like where that’s heading,” Ventura said. “You could bury yourself and get down on yourself and not really finish that at-bat off. It was a nice one to be able to just keep pushing, keep getting guys on base and keep pushing forward.”
The Sox had also run into too many outs on the bases and committed eight errors in the first 11 games. The defensive issues have gone beyond the errors and another case in point surfaced Monday when right fielder Garcia, after going to the fence to track down Michael Brantley’s two-out double, double-clutched before throwing the ball in to cutoff man Micah Johnson, allowing Mike Aviles to score without a play.
Hahn and Ventura were both asked about criticism of Ventura in these first two weeks. It happens when mistakes pile up.
“That goes with the territory,’’ Ventura said. “That’s part of the job. The focus for me is what we’re doing and how to make it better and turn it around. Stuff on the outside is always going to be there regardless. Even if we’re winning there will be criticism. The focus is in here and trying to turn it around, not kind of the outside stuff.’’
Hahn said he “absolutely” stands behind Ventura, calling criticism “part of the nature of the gig.”
“There’s an in-game strategy element that everyone … can have an opinion on and perhaps have a better point of view than the manager in the heat of the moment. There is also a personnel management side of the game that most people aren’t privy to. … And the strengths in that area are very high and very strong and something we are very pleased with.’’
John Danks gave up three runs over six innings. Ryan Raburn and Brett Hayes hit solo homers for the Indians.
“Yeah, it was awesome to win,” Danks said. “That’s a heck of a ninth inning. It just shows the resilience we have as a club. We play hard until the ballgame is over one way or another, and fortunately we got the win.”