OAKLAND, Calif. — Miguel Cairo is enjoying the ride.
And what a ride Friday’s improbable 5-3 win over the Athletics was for the White Sox, who won for the eighth time in 11 games since Cairo, the Sox’ bench coach, took over as acting manager.
Down 3-0 and being no-hit for six innings, the Sox (71-68) scored five runs in the ninth, four of them after two outs, to stay within 1 1/2 games of the Cleveland Guardians in the AL Central.
Eloy Jimenez homered for the third time in three games against A’s lefty A.J. Puk to start it before the Sox scored four runs after two outs. Andrew Vaughn singled home pinch runner Leury Garcia, Romy Gonzalez (after striking out three times) singled home pinch runner Adam Engel with the tying run (Engel sneaking his hand over the plate with a fading slide) and former Athletic Elvis Andrus delivered the tiebreaking shot, a two-run double into the left field corner scoring two runs.
“We were like sleeping for a bit and we just got a wakeup call,” said Cairo, who pushed all the right buttons in the ninth inning pinch-hitting Yasmani Grandal (walk) and using two pinch runners. Cairo took over when Tony La Russa left the team for medical reasons.
“They don’t give up. That’s the phrase Tony uses, never give up. And [play for] 27 outs],” Cairo said.
“That was a good win. We have to come back tomorrow with the same intensity, same fire.”
The Sox have won eight of their last 10 games. Cairo said the streak has been a team effort on the field and with the coaching staff with former manager Jerry Narron and coaches Shelley Duncan, Joe McEwing and Ethan Katz all putting their heads together.
“They all help with the moves, with everything,” Cairo said. “Everyone is contributing.”
The Sox were a disappointment the first five months of the season but are now playing as planned.
“Amazing win,” said Lucas Giolito, who pitched six innings of three-run ball. “To put five runs up in the ninth inning like that. It was a lot of fun to watch. Maybe there was a little hangover from last night [scoring 14 runs on 21 hits] early in the game.
“Keep the good vibes rolling. There is a lot of fight in this team. Just amazing clutch at-bats by all the guys. This is stuff we can do when we’re playing loose and free.”
The Sox beat the Mariners for a series win Wednesday after their first seven batters struck out. They were down 4-0 in that one.
“It shows how resilient this team is,” Andrus said. “Eloy’s homer woke us up. This win shows how much heart and passion this team has.”
“These are the games early in the year we wouldn’t win,” Hendriks said. “The attitude in here is a little more yelling at each other which is one of the things we’re thriving on.”
Liam Hendriks, who pitched the ninth for his 32nd save against his former team, said Cairo “has done things differently here but it’s been fantastic.”
“As far as winning percentages he’s the winningest manager in White Sox history, right?” Hendriks said. “We’ve had Miguel for a couple years. It’s been fantastic watching him. We want Tony to get better and healthy and make sure we’re firing on all cylinders but Miggy stepped up admirably into that role.”