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The White Sox’s Triple-A offense finally paid off.
With the game tied at 1 heading into the ninth, AJ Pollock greeted Aroldis Chapman with a leadoff homer in the ninth inning, and Andrew Vaughn drew a walk then came around to score on an Adam Engel double. The offense arrived too late to give Johnny Cueto a deserved win for his six shutout innings, but it achieved the primary task at hand of winning a game at Yankee Stadium.
Now, who can say whether they’d win another. (Pretend like this recap wasn’t written after the White Sox swept the thing.)
It wasn’t easy, as the White Sox could only muster one run through eight, and they left a run on that table in the scoring inning. Yasmani Grandal’s single — the White Sox’s third of the inning — scored José Abreu and put runners on the corners with one out in the fourth, but Jameson Taillon struck out Gavin Sheets and Adam Engel to kill the threat.
Cueto was even tougher during his outing, keeping the Yankees off balance with an array of moving fastballs and sliders that stayed over the plate early in counts, but not later. He allowed just six baserunners over his six innings, but Tony La Russa learned a breaking point by sending him out to start the seventh. Cueto gave up two line drive singles, and it was up to Joe Kelly to strand them.
And Kelly did, with two strikeouts sandwiching a pickoff, the team’s second of the game (Cueto picked off a runner in the second inning). Alas, Kendall Graveman tried to get inside on Aaron Judge in the eighth inning, and Judge sized him up from an earlier pitch and hammered it out to left for a solo shot that tied the game in the eighth.
Yet Graveman got the win, because Pollock answered that run two pitches into the ninth inning, getting on top of 95 up and in and riding it out to left field. That Chapman is throwing 95 to start an inning has to concern the Yankees, but what do the White Sox care?
*Yoán Moncada bunted for a double against a four-outfield alignment, which both benefited the White Sox but served the Yankees’ purpose well enough with two outs, as Leury García struck out to end the inning.
*Sheets helped Cueto get off to a good start with a diving stop to retire DJ LeMahieu to start the game.
*Cueto is the first pitcher in White Sox history to throw at least six scoreless innings in each of his first two starts.