There are wins during a 162 game season and then there are wins that pack a little more punch.
Take the White Sox’ 7-6 victory in 12 innings over the Blue Jays at Guaranteed Rate Field. Dylan Cease’s masterful six innings of one-hit ball with 11 strikeouts went down the tubes when the bullpen couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead.
The Sox tied it with two runs in the ninth, and with one in each of the 10th, 11th and 12th innings to win it, the clincher coming on Josh Harrison’s RBI single scoring hobbling free runner Jose Abreu from second.
“That might be the most fun one we’ve had this year,” Cease said. “To be down late, then come back and hang in there, and ultimately win it late, those are the types of ball games that will get you into the playoffs at the end of the year.”
The Sox (33-33) are a .500 team for the first time since May 29 and go for a series sweep Wednesday afternoon against the Jays (38-30), who swept the Sox in Toronto three weeks ago. The Sox have won six of their last eight games.
Harrison, a 10-year veteran and two-time All-Star who underachieved on an underperforming team for much of the first two months of the season, has had two big games in a row now. He also homered in the Sox’ 8-7 win Monday and made big plays in the field.
“That’s what teams do,” Harrison said. “You pull from everybody 1 through 9. Those are fun games to be a part of, especially when you win.”
Harrison is batting .325 (14-for-43) in his his last 13 games and has a six-game winning streak that raised his average to .216. There have been calls for having him DFA’d, which he was asked about after the game.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t care what anybody says,” Harrison said. “I don’t play for the motivation of people that don’t like me or that do like me, no disrespect. Everything I do on the field is how I’m wired. I play for me, I play for my teammates, I play for my family. If somebody is not for me, it doesn’t bother me.”
There was nothing not to like about Cease’s pitching. He struck out the first five batters he faced, took a no-hitter into the sixth, recorded his 12th double-digit strikeout game tying him with Carlos Rod?n and Alex Fernandez for sixth place in White Sox history and tied his career-high with 11 strikeouts. Cease (2.68 ERA) made a dangerous Jays lineup swing and miss 20 times.
“It’s a good feeling,” Cease said. “It feels like if I get [my slider] in the zone, I’m pretty much unhittable. So, that’s kinda what I was rolling with today.”
Luis Robert matched a career high with four RBI, including two on a tying single in the ninth, an inning that started after two outs. Danny Mendick’s RBI single tied it in the 10th, and Robert’s sacrifice fly scoring Tim Anderson tied it in the 11th.
Vince Velasquez pitched two innings of relief for the win.
“A very special win,” manager Tony La Russa said.
Abreu, hobbling through the game with apparent leg soreness, will either be the DH Wednesday or not play at all. It seemed fitting that he scored the winning run from second.
“To see a leader like [Abreu] who has been out there grinding like that, it allows us all to take a step back and say ‘no excuses,’ Harrison said. “To see him out there grinding through 12 innings speaks volumes for this clubhouse.”