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It seemed like Liam Hendriks did the hard part.
With the White Sox leading 3-2 in the ninth inning, Hendriks got Anthony Santander to pop out to Seby Zavala, and he struck out Ryan Mountcastle to bring rookie Kyle Stowers to the plate.
And it seemed like he did his job there, too. On a first-pitch fastball, Stowers hit a high pop foul along the left-field wall. Adam Engel, the defensive replacement for Andrew Vaughn, came in hot and had it tracked.
Until he didn’t.
He overran the ball slightly, causing him to reach behind him in a way that blocked his line of sight. The ball popped out of his glove and onto the track, giving Stowers an extra life.
Still, Hendriks put himself in even better position to end the game when he pumped a fastball past Stowers for strike two. With his third pitch, he either had to 1) keep throwing high heat, since Stowers was late on both pitches, or 2) bury a breaking ball.
Hendriks went with 3) hang a breaking ball, and Stowers sent it out to center for a game-tying homer.
Brandon Hyde called on his closer, Felix Bautista, for both extra innings, and the White Sox never advanced their Manfred Man in either frame. Joe Kelly escaped the bottom of the 10th with some help from Josh Harrison, who made a great play on a chopper down the line to cut down the runner at home, but Jake Diekman faced two batters and gave up two singles to bring the game to a merciful end an inning later.
The first nine innings weren’t that fun, either. For the second time in this series, the White Sox homered in the first inning and paid the price. Much like Ryan Mountcastle’s three-run shot overruled Eloy Jimenez’s two-run homer in the first inning on Tuesday, Andrew Vaughn’s leadoff homer — on the first pitch of the game, no less — was immediately negated by Anthony Santander’s two-run dinger off Lance Lynn.
Unlike Tuesday, they were able to regain the lead.
Was it pretty? Of course not. They scored the tying run in the seventh because Romy Gonzalez scored from second on Terrin Vavra’s ill-advised, unsuccessful double-play attempt in the seventh. He had led off with a single, advanced to second on Elvis Andrus’ nice hit-and-run work, but Josh Harrison followed with a chopper to short. It developed too slowly to end the inning, but Vavra tried anyway, and Mountcastle couldn’t handle the bounce-castle. It trickled into foul territory, and González scampered the final 90 feet without a throw.
The go-ahead run in the eighth was a little smoother. Gavin Sheets smoked a one-out double off Dillon Tate past a leaping Cedric Mullins, then rumbled to third on Luis Robert’s groundout to first. That brought Abreu to the plate, and although Tate fell behind 2-0, he tried toget back into the count with a get-me-over slider, and while Abreu didn’t crush it, it had enough to skip through the hole on the left side for a palpable hit.
Abreu’s hit made up for a rough day in the field. Santander’s homer was a two-run shot because Abreu couldn’t stop a hot smash by Adley Rutschman, although Abreu had made a fine 3-unassisted on speedy Cedric Mullins to start the game. But he also botched a nonchalant over-the-shoulder catch attempt in foul territory for a second error, and while it only cost Lynn a few extra pitches, it made Engel’s drop in left-field foul territory bring some symmetry to the error map.
The pitch to Santander aside, Lynn threw well. He allowed just five baserunners over six innings and struck out eight. He liked his curveball more than usual, and it was good for four outs with two strikes, including three strike threes. Reynaldo López and Jimmy Lambert backed him up with easy 1-2-3 innings, combining to throw a whopping 17 of 20 pitches for strikes over the seventh and eighth.
Aside from the arms, the best thing going was Yoán Moncada’s defense. He made a great charging play on a bunt single attempt, then ranged into left to flag down a pop-up Vaughn couldn’t get to. Because it’s 2022, there was a catch: Moncada tweaked a hamstring while executing the bunt defense, and eventually left the game with tightness.
*Luis Robert’s 14-game hitting streak crashed to a halt with an 0-for-5 night, including two double plays. At the end, he was having trouble holding onto the bat to such an extent that even the Pitching Ninja apologized for over-celebrating pitching dominance.
*Vaughn went 2-for-4 with a homer and a double from the leadoff spot. Gavin Sheets batted second and went 3-for-5 with a double. The rest of the lineup behind him? 6-for-32, all singles, no walks.
*Vaughn’s homer generated a fact that was more fun before we saw how the game ended.