White Sox best Detroit Tigers in bizarre extra-innings finish

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White Sox need extras to tame Detroit in rain-delayed win originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Was that a baseball game or a fever dream? All’s well that ends well, but geez... what a night.

The latter half of the White Sox 5-4, extra-innings win over the Detroit Tigers heavily eclipsed everything that happened in the first six innings of the game, so here are the SparkNotes:

Lucas Giolito’s changeup, and particularly his slider, made for a solid performance through six-innings of work. He struck out nine, and allowed five hits and one walk, giving up two solo home runs to Nomar Mazara and Isaac Paredes, respectively.

“First couple innings [were] a little bit of a battle,” Giolito told reporters after the game. “I didn’t feel completely in sync. But as the game went on, I felt like things were kind of sinking into place. I was getting my release point, and we had a really, really good mix going that we could rely on. I felt like I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes.”

On the other side of the ball, Adam Engel got the offense going in the top of the second with his second solo home run in as many days, this one a line drive that cleared the left-field fence.

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Engel contributed another run with a double-play ground ball that scored José Abreu in the fourth, and then one more on a single that scored Andrew Vaughn from second on an error in the sixth. Danny Mendick punched an RBI single, too.

All right, now on to the good stuff.

You can’t tell the story of this game without putting White Sox reliever Garrett Crochet at the forefront. Crochet, who hasn’t given up an earned run since April 15, pitched two near-perfect innings to set the stage for Liam Hendriks to earn his 17th save of the season. And... things got weird.

It had already been raining for a few innings, but as soon as Hendriks took the mound, a torrential downpour crashed the party. Hendriks, who was visibly frustrated by the weather, threw one pitch, decided enough was enough and angrily threw the next pitch out of play into foul territory at borderline full velocity. After some words with the home plate umpire, the game went into a 49-minute rain delay.

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Hendriks went on to blow the two-run save on a two-run dinger from rookie Daz Cameron in the bottom of the ninth. It was a tough look for the closer.

“It was one of those things where he’s never faced me before, I’ve never faced him before,” Hendriks said. I was hoping to get ahead with a fastball and then be able to kind of read the swing from there, and he was able to put a good swing on it, and the ball went a lot further than I thought."

To extras, we go.

Long story short, in the top of the 10th, Anderson took a leadoff walk, Yermín Mercedes advanced Mendick to third on a flyout, and Yoán Moncada made contact for a fairly shallow sacrifice fly to score the go-ahead run. Not exactly glamorous, but it got the job done.

Aaron Bummer, who gave up three earned runs to blow an eighth-inning lead in Wednesday’s loss to Toronto, entered the game for the save in the bottom of the 10th. After walking the leadoff man and striking out the next two batters, Bummer sealed the deal with a little help from Mendick, who made an excellent play at second base to gobble a ground ball up the middle for the final out.

Bummer’s performance was significant for the team, as well as from an individual standpoint. And his ability to bounce back from Wednesday’s rough going was rightfully praised.

“I’m really happy for us, but I’m thrilled for him,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said after the game. “Because this is a big-time champion, and that’s what he does under pressure.”

Hendriks echoed the skipper and talked about the bullpen’s success over the course of the season.

… [It’s] one of those sink or swim moments, and I think [Bummer’s] proven time and time again that he’s a guy that swims,” Hendriks said.

“This is what the bullpen does,” Hendriks told reporters. “When one guy falters a little bit, we have the next guy in line to pick him up and then go out there and do what he needs to do, and that was Bummer tonight picking me up.” … “We just pass the baton down, and some of these days, it’s gonna be flip-flopped, and some of these days, I’m gonna get hurt by a pitch, and he’s gonna go out there and pick me up, and then vice-vice versa. That’s just what we do out there.”

It was a bizarre finish to a generally well-played game by both teams, and losing the game in that particular fashion would have been a real gut-punch.

But as the White Sox continue to show – and as Bummer, specifically, proved tonight – this team doesn’t stay down for long. And even when they stumble, it’s usually only a matter of time before they get their act together when it matters most.

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