Brian Goodwin’s first career walk-off home run lifted the White Sox to a 2-1 win and a series victory over the Indians on Sunday, putting the Sox nine games ahead in the American League Central.
The series finale was the rubber match after the Sox came from behind to win Friday and then let a five-run lead slip away in a loss Saturday. Even with a sizable lead in the division going into Sunday, there was a sense of urgency in the clubhouse.
“We just wanted it,” Goodwin said. “We wanted it as bad as any game we’ve had this season.”
Goodwin’s bat flip was nearly as big as his decisive ninth-inning homer.
“In my mind, it was,” Goodwin said of the no-doubter to right field. “I prayed to God I was right, just happened to be so. But, yeah, I had very little doubt.”
Manager Tony La Russa was able to follow his pitching gameplan almost exactly Sunday. Spot starter Jimmy Lambert threw three innings, allowing one run on Myles Straw’s third-inning homer. From there, Reynaldo Lopez gave the Sox three nearly flawless innings, and then Aaron Bummer, Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks finished the last third of the game. Of that last group, only Hendriks allowed a hit.
If the game had gone to extra innings, Garret Crochet was in line to pitch the 10th, La Russa said.
La Russa’s pitching plan worked mostly thanks to the piggyback start from Lambert and Lopez, who combined to toss a quality start. They came together for six innings and allowed one run, three hits and one walk with six strikeouts between them.
“The uncertainty was what will Jimmy do for us because this is a big game,” La Russa said. “Had he struggled early, we would have gone earlier and made some moves. He gave us three, and we knew we had Lopey rested.”
Lopez didn’t allow a hit in his first two innings. He then worked around a one-out double by Amed Rosario in the sixth, getting Jose Ramirez to fly out to Adam Engel in center and striking out Franmil Reyes on a 98 mph fastball after Rosario had advanced to third on Ramirez’s fly ball.
Lopez, who started the season in the minor leagues after not making the rotation out of spring training, celebrated after striking out Reyes by pumping his fist.
“I knew they had a runner at third, and I didn’t want that runner to score,” Lopez said. “I knew I had to do my best there. When I struck him out, it felt good. It felt very good.”
The offense struggled against Indians starter Cal Quantrill, who now has a 0.90 ERA against the Sox. The Sox loaded the bases against him in the second and fifth innings but only scored in the fifth, when Quantrill hit Abreu in the left shoulder on a 1-0 sinker.
It was the second time in this series that Abreu has been hit by a pitch, and both have come on pitches high and inside. Abreu was hit in the head by James Karinchak on -Friday.
“It’s been too many times now with Abreu,” Liam Hendriks said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played against Abreu, and one of his holes is up and in. It’s not like it’s intentional. . . . But it’s just too many times, and it’s always too high. And that has to stop.”
Abreu’s hit-by-pitch tied the game, but coming up nearly empty-handed after loading the bases twice would deflate a lot of teams.
“Obviously, it’s not one of those things where we’re not disappointed,” Goodwin said. “But we know everybody out there is battling their ass off. Everybody, they’re doing everything they can to get the job done. That’s what we take pride in. Because the more you do that, more times than not, the opportunity, the situation will pay off.”