Until Leury García hit a ground ball through the drawn-in left side of the infield in the 10th inning, the White Sox hadn’t led this game at any point.
Better late than never, especially when the Twins kept making it look like “never.”
Every time the White Sox scored, the Twins had an answer. But every time the Twins had an answer, the White Sox had a retort. When José Ruiz improbably kept the Twins off the board in the top of the 10th with a harmless walk, a strikeout and a double play, it gave the White Sox offense to finally have the last word.
They didn’t have to work hard for it. Adam Engel, who entered as a defensive replacement for Eloy Jiménez, moved to third on a ball-four passed ball to the bottom of the 10th’s first batter, Josh Harrison, then scored on the third pitch to García to bring the afternoon to a close some three hours and 47 minutes after it started.
Lance Lynn struggled early and late over his five innings, and Kendall Graveman and Matt Foster gave up a pair of costly homers to Jorge Polanco.
Buoyed by the return of Jiménez, the White Sox lineup finally showed the ability to counterpunch. The game was tied at:
1 through one: After Tim Anderson’s attempt to turn an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded was overturned because he tagged Max Kepler with a ball-less glove, he made up for it by drawing a leadoff walk to start the bottom half of the inning, after which José Abreu doubled him home.
3 through four: Three straight hits in the top of the second allowed the Twins to retake the lead, and for the only time in the afternoon, the White Sox needed a little time to answer. It came in the fourth, when Gavin Sheets dumped a single to left, and Jiménez dumped a 44-degree fly ball into the White Sox bullpen for a sorely needed two-run homer.
5 through five: After Lus Arraez opened the inning with a single and Polanco hit a two-run shot, the White Sox returned the favor in the bottom of the frame. It appeared to be a bad break when Andrew Vaughn’s grounder past third hit umpire Randy Rosenberg to limit Vaughn to a single, but then Robert rifled a liner into the left-field bullpen to make it moot.
7 through seven: After a shutdown inning from Reynaldo López, Kendall Graveman’s third pitch of his afternoon ended up in Section 108, as Polanco wrapped it around the pole in right. The Sox resumed their pestering of Griffin Jax after one out. Robert and Abreu singled, and while Jax aced Sheets with a backdoor slider, Jiménez picked him up by pounding the first pitch through the right side.
8 through eight: Matt Foster opened the inning by giving up a double to Jose Miranda and a two-run homer to Gio Urshela (in loving memory of Alex Snelius, who died Tuesday). Trevor Megill came within a strike of posting a zero, but Andrew Vaughn withstood a barrage of six consecutive pitches in or close enough to zone before scorching the worst curve Megill through several rows deep in left.
There’s too much season left to call this a must win, but it’s fair to call this the most important win of the season. The White Sox are 5½ games behind Minnesota, not 7½. They’re one game back of Cleveland for second place after the Guardians were swept by the Tigers, not two. They’re 1-5 against the Twins instead of 0-6, and that “1” involved absorbing every blow the Twins could deal. Hopefully that ends up meaning something.
*Harrison batted in the 10th inning because Yoán Moncada left the game with a bruised foot due to a foul ball. Moncada was 1-for-3 with a couple of slick plays at third.
*Anderson was the only White Sox without a hit, but he did draw that walk. Vaugh, Robert, Abreu, Sheets, Jiménez and Seby Zavala each had two hits apiece.
*Vaughn was charged with an error when his attempt to backhand a Nick Gordon bouncer deflected off his mitt and past García into shallow right field, but Gordon immediately negated it by rounding first base too aggressively, and stumbling in his return to get back. The White Sox had their choice of players ready to apply the tag.
*Anderson made up for his botched double play in the first with a crucial pick while ranging to his left, starting the 6-3 double play that ended the top of the 10th before Arraez could come to the plate.