The White Sox’ 5-4 walk-off win in 12 -innings against the Cubs wasn’t well-played or executed but it was entertaining. And it saved their fans among a sellout crowd of 38,038 the humiliation of getting swept by the North Siders.
But oh, the price of victory.
Tim Anderson strained his right groin hours before a team celebration around Jake Burger after Burger atoned for a costly error with a game-winning single in the 12th. The severity of the injury is unknown, but Anderson is going on the injured list.
The Sox’ All-Star shortstop, .356 hitter, energy source and leader went down after making a throw from the outfield grass in the fifth inning.
An underperforming team struggling to piece together hits and runs, and playing without Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Yoan Moncada because of injury or illness Sunday now loses its top player.
Just in time for a tough road trip against the Blue Jays and Rays.
“It’s terrible,” said Danny Mendick, who replaced Anderson at shortstop, contributed two singles and scored the winning run as the free runner.
“You don’t ever want to see a teammate get hurt. When it happens, everyone knows we still got a ballgame to play.”
Anderson went down on the outfield grass after ranging to his left and throwing across his body to get Cubs catcher P.J. Higgins. He walked off the field with his arms over the shoulders of two trainers.
He will be further evaluated Monday, an off day.
“Tim’s a great player having a great year,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Now he’s going to have to recover. Recovering from any injury is not fun. But for us, we just got to look around at who we send out [to play]. We’ve got a lot of guys who can help win a game. That’s our attitude.”
Anderson will join five key teammates on the injured list: Right-handers Joe Kelly (right hamstring strain) and Lance Lynn (right knee surgery), left-hander Garrett Crochet (Tommy John surgery) and outfielders Jimenez (right hamstring tendon tear) and Robert (COVID).
“It’s obviously sad and you hate to see it but we have to keep playing with what we have,” said Dylan Cease, gave up one run — unearned — in seven innings.
“An extra-inning win like that can be a momentum builder. It’s going to be a way happier night than if the other option -happened.”
But bittersweet without Anderson on the plane for Toronto.
“It’s devastating,” Burger said. “We were all around him. You saw all nine guys out there around him. It’s tough. He’s such a leader and such an impactful person in this clubhouse that it will be tough. But he’ll -always be with us no matter what it is.”
The Sox ran into outs, made two errors, gave up three stolen bases, allowed three unearned runs and blew multiple chances to walk it off before Burger did. They were 5-for-20 with runners in scoring position (the Cubs were 1-for-12).
After Gavin Sheets started something with a double, the Sox tied it 1-1 in the ninth on David Robertson’s wild pitch, and both teams scored in each of the extra innings until Matt Foster held the Cubs scoreless in the 12th.
The Sox tied it in the 10th on Andrew Vaughn’s sacrifice fly and Jose Abreu’s single for his 808th RBI — tying him with Minnie Minoso for fifth on the Sox all-time list — and tied it in the 11th on Adam Engel’s RBI single. They thought they won it when Cubs pitcher Robert Gsellman fielded Leury Garcia’s bunt and threw one through first baseman Alfonso Rivas at first base. But Garcia was called out for running inside the baseline and Engel, who had crossed home, was sent back to second.
After getting back to .500, it was back to thinking about life without Anderson.
“We’re not nearly as good without him, but we’re going to have to be good enough to win,” La Russa said. “He’s a great player. But I think maybe we get Robert back sometime soon. The games count, we’ll figure out a way.”