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The White Sox have the best record in baseball.
Don’t ask how they got there.
A Yasmani Grandal single won this game for the White Sox in the 10th, but it was a game Kevin Cash seemed willing to concede after the White Sox took a four-run lead through four and expanded it through five, as he left left-handed Ryan Yarbrough in for far longer than a Tampa Bay game usually allows.
The Rays offense didn’t get the memo, the uneven part of the White Sox bullpen failed to inspire confidence, and after rallying from a 7-2 deficit by bleeding Codi Heuer, Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall for five runs over three innings, Cash had the leverage to consider his best bullpen options once again. Meanwhile, Tony La Russa took his best option off the table by limiting Liam Hendriks to a save situation that never arose, meaning Evan Marhshall had to navigate the ninth inning past the 30-pitch point, and Ryan Burr of all people had to take the 10th, runner on second and all.
Somehow, the White Sox persevered. Marshall stalled a one-out double with a pair of strikeouts that required 14 pitches to close out, and when the game-winning run was stranded in the bottom of the ninth thanks in large part to an absurd strike zone by Fieldin Culbreth, Burr neutralized the Manfred Man with a strikeout and a pair of flyouts to Andrew Vaughn.
Vaughn then started the bottom of the 10th on second. He moved to third on José Abreu’s groundout up the middle against Pete Fairbanks, which brought the infield in. Grandal made it moot by driving a 1-0 slider off the base of the right-field wall to end it.
The White Sox are now a half-game up on Tampa Bay for the league’s best record, one game better in the loss column at 43-25. It just could’ve been easier.
The Sox broke open a scoreless game in the fourth. Vaughn and Abreu did their things against an unimposing lefty — a single and a homer. Yasmani Grandal started a new rally with a walk, and after Leury García dropped a single to left and advanced to second on the throw, both runners scored on Zack Collins’ opposite-field doink for a 4-0 lead.
White Sox pitchers had problems with shutdown innings, starting with Lucas Giolito. He gave up half the margin in the top of the fifth by allowing a leadoff walk, a double, and then a two-run double to Kevin Kiermaier two batters later. After the Sox scored three in the bottom of the fifth off Yarbrough — a Brian Goodwin sac bunt that turned into a run-scoring double after an error, a Vaughn actual run-scoring double, and a Jake Lamb single — Giolito surrendered a solo shot to Mike Zunino in the top of the sixth.
Still, Giolito met the requirements for a quality start and handed the bullpen a four-run lead with three innings to go. But for the second consecutive game, he was denied a win thanks to a bullpen collapse.
While Hendriks allowed a two-run homer in the ninth inning Giolito’s last time out, this one was a group effort. Codi Heuer gave up a solid single and two-run homer to Mike Zunino that made it a two-run game, then Aaron Bummer ran into his customary misfortune he couldn’t pitch through when Danny Mendick booted a firm-but-routine two-hopper to start the eighth.
Bummer gave up a legit singe that put runners on the corners, then got a double-play-looking grounder that resulted in one out because Tim Anderson had too far to go to get to second in time to make a good hard throw. Bummer struck out Francisco Mejia, but when Evan Marshall came in to get the final out, he faltered. Marshall got ahead 0-2, but a putaway pitch escaped him, with Margot lining a changeup on the ninth pitch. Brett Phillips took off from first on the full count, and Vaughn took long enough to collect the ball for Phillips to score all the way from first, tying the game at 7.
Mendick almost got a chance to atone for his error when he led off the bottom of the eighth with a double, but Culbreth’s willingness to call sliders two inches off the outside corner paired poorly with Diego Castillo’s ability to put them there, and Vaughn ended up getting the bat taken out of his hands with a flailing strikeout to send the game to extras.
*This game was just the third time that a Rays starter allowed 10 hits in a game since the start of the 2020 season.
*Hendriks warmed up in the eighth, but he never came in. Adam Engel and Yoán Moncada were also kept out of the entirety of the game for protective purposes, even though Engel would’ve been a great call to run for Vaughn in the 10th.
*The White Sox won two out of three despite the drama, which has been a theme this year.