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Looking through the 161 game recaps on Sox Machine, we used the “top game 2019” tag 17 times.
The ideal top game involves a noteworthy effort and an indelible moment against a heavyweight opponent. A comeback always helps, as long as miscues or mismanagement didn’t dig the hole. Then again, as you’ll see later in the list, sometimes the miscues are what you’ll remember more than anything else.
Below is my list of the top 10 White Sox games of 2019. Feel free to quibble with the order or provide your own in the comments.
This was the only game to get tagged as one of the White Sox’ best games and one of their worst games. They snapped a four-game losing streak in 15 innings, the last two of which were pitched on Philly’s side by center fielder Roman Quinn. The Sox might’ve been able to win it in 14, but pitcher-turned-left-fielder Vince Velasquez gunned down Jose Abreu at home plate in that inning. I don’t know what would’ve happened if his similarly excellent attempt to get Leury García were successful. Also, Carson Fulmer pulled his hamstring trying to leg out his first career hit.
This was supposed to be a capitalized Ryan Cordell Game, but it turned into a lowercase Yoan Moncada game. Cordell’s two-homer game and leaping catch at the wall helped keep the Sox afloat during regulation, but Moncada staved off defeat in extras with some excellent glove work and a massive game-tying blast off Detroit closer Shane Greene in the 10th. Jose Abreu ended it by hooking his 20th homer of the season into the White Sox bullpen for a three-run walk-off.
The White Sox took the season series from the Cleveland Indians for the first time since 2015, and they started by handing Corey Kluber a loss for the first time since the middle of 2015. He never looked right all game, and that turned out to be a harbinger for Kluber’s season, as he posted a 5.80 over just seven starts. Carlos Rodón also only lasted seven starts, barely faring better (3-2, 5.19 ERA) in a disappointing season for both.
In another defeat of a pitcher who issued the Sox plenty of AL Central-branded misery, the White Sox denied CC Sabathia his 20th win against them by sending all nine batters to the plate in the first. Eloy Jiménez hit a pair of three-run homers, one that put the Sox ahead, and another that put the game away. It was his second multi-homer game against the Yankees, and he had four all season.
The White Sox lost the game in which Tim Anderson got drilled by Brad Keller, then got ejected for insulting him with a word Major League Baseball isn’t equipped to interpret in 21st-century America. They won this one, even if they might not have deserved to. The White Sox blew a 7-1 lead in part because Rick Renteria left Reynaldo López in the game 15 pitches too long.
That said, this game was about Anderson when it started, because Glenn Sparkman was ejected for clipping Anderson’s helmet with a changeup in the second inning. Thanks to Renteria’s mismanagement, it was also about Anderson when the smoke cleared, as he put the Sox ahead again for good with a game-winning double in the eighth. Anderson had punctuated big moments with big displays before, but struggled to back it up. This moment signified that he was going to be a force to contend with all season.
In another game that might not have stood out had misfortune not set the stage, Alex Colomé blew his first save of the season, putting the Red Sox in position to sweep the other Sox at Fenway Park. Jose Abreu dashed those dreams with a two-run blast off Matt Barnes on the 10th pitch of the at-bat. The subsequent silence satisfies.
Whether you’re talking about the season series or this game, the White Sox showed they could hold their own against the American League’s best team, even in a slugfest. James McCann hit a go-ahead grand slam to finally put the White Sox ahead for good after leads of 4-2, 7-4, 8-5 and 9-8 proved insufficient. The White Sox ended up winning the season series against Houston, 4-3.
You might prefer Giolito’s other shutout, a 4-0 blanking of Houston for the first real complete game of the Rick Renteria era, and a statement game for the season Giolito was going to have. I prefer this game, not only because he allowed fewer hits (three, to four) and struck out more batters (12, to nine), but because he’d given up four homers over five innings in his previous outing against Minnesota. The ability to recover against a divisional opponent during the dog days of the season gives this one the edge to me. Giolito’s game score of 93 was the highest one posted by a White Sox starter since Philip Humber’s perfect game. Even Chris Sale only topped out at 92.
Midway through the game, the White Sox trailed 8-1, saw Carlos Rodón get shelled and lost Eloy Jiménez to a sprained ankle on an awkward leap on the warning track. It ended with Tim Anderson walking it off on a hanging Joe Jimenez slider.
In between, the White Sox managed to blow a lead in this game. They put themselves on the doorstep with a five-run sixth, then took the lead a 12-10 lead in the seventh when Jose Abreu hit a three-run homer, his second of the game … until that lead was revised to 11-10 when a replay showed that Abreu passed Anderson on basepaths as the ball went over the wall, resulting in a two-run single instead.
That run mattered Kelvin Herrera gave up a solo shot in the eighth. As we saw with the Royals game on this list, at least Anderson made a habit of using setbacks as scene-scetters. Also, Nate Jones made his last appearance for the White Sox.
Because you can’t end a post about the season’s top games with “Nate Jones made his last appearance for the White Sox,” let’s end with a homer you’ll see played every year for the next couple decades.