They committed three errors, appeared to be blown out early, trailed by two in the ninth inning and twice walked themselves into bases-loaded jams.
But somehow, the White Sox overcame themselves.
Adam Eaton’s fourth hit Monday night, a single past a drawn-in infield, propelled the White Sox to a highly improbable 10-9 comeback victory over the Detroit Tigers in 12 innings in front 16,314 at U.S. Cellular Field. A leadoff man in each of his previous 338 White Sox games, Eaton reached base five times batting in the second spot and had a sacrifice fly as his club won for only the ninth time in 31 games. Jose Abreu and Dioner Navarro both homered as the White Sox rebounded from another poor outing by starting pitcher James Shields, who allowed seven runs in five innings.
“It’s huge,” Eaton said. “To claw back the way we did, especially in the ninth to tie it up, it’s a huge win for the team. We can hopefully hop on this wave and ride it a little bit. We’ve had so much go against us, some bad luck here and there, and some stretches that have been tough here recently.
“You could kind of feel the momentum shift to us.”
The White Sox had very little in their favor when they trailed 7-0 after 2 1/ 2 innings courtesy of another rough turn from Shields and two errors, including one from the pitcher that wiped out a potential inning-ending double play and led to a run.
Their win expectancy at that point was 3.7 percent, according to fangraphs.com. Even after they had rallied back to within two runs by the ninth, the chances of a White Sox victory were still a miniscule 8.6 percent.
But they pieced together a two-out, game-tying rally against Francisco Rodriguez with key, two-out RBI singles by Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia.
Three action-packed innings later, including David Robertson pitching out of a bases-loaded jam and Zach Duke retiring J.D. Martinez on a fly ball to the wall, the White Sox found themselves in prime position to steal a victory. J.B. Shuck doubled down the right-field line and advanced to third on a Tim Anderson bunt. Eaton’s single up the middle off Anibal Sanchez sent his teammates into a frenzied state.
“The most important thing guys were trying to do was have good at-bats and keep chipping away,” said bench coach Rick Renteria, who took over after manager Robin Ventura was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing balls and strikes. “Robin and (Todd Steverson) had a talk with the guys (Monday) about just grinding out at-bats and not worrying about results because results are obviously an outcome and I thought today they did a really nice job of doing that.”
Trailing 7-0, Eaton and Abreu gave the White Sox life in the third.
Eaton came back from a 1-2 count to work a one-out walk and Abreu crushed a two-run homer — his second in two days — to make it a five-run deficit. One inning later, Navarro’s solo homer made it 7-3.
Eaton, Melky Cabrera and Abreu all singled in the fifth inning with the first baseman’s driving in a run. Abreu’s three RBIs were his most since May 3 and matched his season high.
Todd Frazier had an RBI groundout and Lawrie, who had three hits, singled in a run to make it a 7-6 game.
Down two again, Eaton’s sac fly in the sixth made it an 8-7 game though the White Sox stranded a pair on Abreu’s comebacker.
Detroit added an insurance run in the ninth when Melky Cabrera’s two-base error on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s single led to a run. Jose Iglesias put down a successful squeeze to put the Tigers ahead 9-7.
But the White Sox continued to rally. Lawrie singled in Melky Cabrera and Garcia worked the count full after taking two quick strikes and singled in Frazier.
They didn’t give up on Shields, either, even as he surrendered seven runs in a second consecutive start.
His second pitch Monday resulted in an Ian Kinsler leadoff homer, the fourth Shields has yielded with the White Sox. Two batters later, Garcia kicked away Miguel Cabrera’s double, which led to a run and J.D. Martinez singled in another to make it 3-0. It was the first of three balls misplayed by Garcia in right.
Shields’ second inning included a walk, a wild pitch and two stolen bases, after which he trailed by six runs. The pitcher’s throwing error with one out in the third wiped out a double play and led to a Kinsler sac fly.
Shields loaded the bases again in the fourth with a pair of walks. But he escaped the jam — his first scoreless frame since the trade — and also retired the side in order in the fifth.
“Ever since I got in this clubhouse, these guys have wanted it,” Shields said. “The vibe in here, I said before, has been amazing. And these guys want it so to be able to come out on top is pretty special.”