David Robertson wasn’t at his best for the first time this year. But Gordon Beckham’s heroics meant the White Sox closer didn’t have to be perfect.
After Robertson blew his first save and allowed his first run of the season, Beckham delivered a two-out walk-off single off Cincinnati All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman to deliver a 4-3 White Sox win in front of 20,123 at U.S. Cellular Field Sunday afternoon.
“To come back and win in the ninth to kind of pick him up and just give him that confidence that he doesn't always have to shut it down 1, 2, 3 and we can still the win the game was important,” Beckham said.
The White Sox entered the ninth inning leading 3-1 and deployed Robertson, who hadn’t allowed a run in 12 previous appearances. But the Reds quickly rallied and Zack Cozart turned around a Robertson fastball for a game-tying two-run double, which nearly put the White Sox in a precarious position.
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John Danks’ seven innings of one-run ball were crucial with the White Sox bullpen taxed after Saturday’s doubleheader, in which both the team’s long relievers — Scott Carroll and Carlos Rodon — combined to throw 10 2/3 innings. The White Sox used only Robertson and Zach Duke out of the bullpen Sunday, but had the game gone to extras manager Robin Ventura might’ve been forced to turn to Hector Noesi (who left Saturday's game after taking a liner off his back) or Jose Quintana (whose bullpen day was Sunday).
The game appeared destined for a 10th inning after Chapman blew a 102 mile per hour fastball past Jose Abreu and got Adam LaRoche to ground out. But Avisail Garcia muscled a fastball to center for a single, and Alexei Ramirez followed with a base hit off his fellow Cuban native.
Beckham then flipped a 100 mile per hour 2-2 fastball into right-center for the game-winning hit. Chapman, like Robertson, entered Sunday having not allowed a run in 13 games.
“We were a little short in the pen so we were going to have to scramble to see who we were going to use,” Ventura said. “… It's a big win. It's always a big win when you win walking off, but as short as we were in the pen, it's even bigger.”
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The White Sox have now won all five series they’ve played at home, but have an MLB-worst 2-11 record away from U.S. Cellular Field (the next worst is Philadelphia at 4-13). While an 0-5 road trip to Baltimore and Minnesota featured unpredictable circumstances, the White Sox should have a relatively normal six-game swing to Milwaukee and Oakland this week.
And with it will come an opportunity to continue to pull out of this spring’s early tailspin. Sunday’s walk-off win was a good start.
“The last road trip was very strange for us,” Robertson said. “With the two games being canceled and then playing a game without fans, that was difficult and very awkward. Our schedule was kind of thrown off there. We didn’t play well against Minnesota. We do need to pick it up and hopefully these upcoming series, we’ll be able to win some ballgames.”