They might have come out mainly to get their Hawk Harrelson talking alarm clocks. But the fans at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday night also got to see the White Sox win for the first time in more than a week.
And you know what that means: The White Sox six-game losing streak is — as the Hawk and his alarm clock likeness would say — ovah!
It looked like another round of “here we go again” after Wil Myers blasted a game-tying home run off Tommy Kahnle in the eighth inning, a solo shot that evened the score at 4. But the White Sox got their own clutch swing from Yolmer Sanchez in the bottom of the ninth, a single up the middle driving home Tyler Saladino, who slid around a tag for the game-winning tally in Saturday’s 5-4 walk-off decision.
The teeter-totter nature of this one made for an entertaining affair for the more than 29,000 folks who came down to 35th & Shields. But more importantly for the South Siders, it was their first win since May 4 and the first win at home since April 26.
“It’s always good to win. It had been a rough week for us, but we have been battling every day and our heads were up,” Sanchez said. “This is a good win for us.”
Manager Rick Renteria was asked before the game about how he’s keeping guys positive in the middle of a losing stretch. After that skid was snapped, he explained how his players have been acting the same regardless of the outcomes of late, a positive sign for the skipper.
“Honestly it’s the same mood we’ve had all six or seven days, whatever it’s been. They’re getting ready to go back out there and try to get it done,” Renteria said. “I don’t think it’s changed, to be honest. They haven’t gone flat. They haven’t done anything that’s contrary to giving yourselves a chance to win a ballgame. Their energy has been consistent. That’s all you can ask of a team.
“You talk about effort level, they’re giving it. The bottom line is when you execute, the team that makes the least amount of mistakes has a chance to give themselves an opportunity to win.”
[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]
For the second straight night, the Padres jumped out to a 1-0 lead with just one pitch, Manuel Margot hitting a home run off Dylan Covey on the first pitch of the game, just as Matt Szczur did to Miguel Gonzalez a night earlier. The Padres became the first team to do that since 2007, when Cubs slugger Alfonso Soriano smacked homers on the first pitches of back-to-back games in September of that season.
Avisail Garcia matched with a solo homer of his own in the second. After the Padres got another run on another solo homer in the third, Jose Abreu tied the game at 2 on a gifted trip around the bases. He reached on an error before advancing to second, third and home on a trio of wild pitches from Padres starter Trevor Cahill.
One more time the Padres grabbed a one-run lead with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly, but the White Sox plated two in the bottom of that inning, Kevan Smith and Saladino scoring on balls off the bats of Leury Garcia and Melky Cabrera to tie the game at 3 then give the White Sox a 4-3 edge.
That advantage stood until Myers’ eighth-inning homer off Kahnle. But Saladino led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk, moved to second on Leury Garcia’s bunt and came around to score when Sanchez hit a pitch into center field. Saladino had to make one heck of a slide to avoid the tag by catcher Austin Hedges, but avoid it he did, something umpires confirmed upon video review.
“Great slide,” Renteria said. “What a fantastic slide. Obviously a great at-bat by Sanchy. ... I thought the guys battled all day. Give the guys credit. They’re getting after it. Fortunately for us today was our day."
Covey had an interesting evening on the mound. He struck out nine hitters — nearly matching his season total coming in of 11 whiffs — but lasted just 4.1 innings and departed with the bases loaded. Still, he surrendered just three runs in one of his best outings of the year.
White Sox relievers Anthony Swarzak, Kahnle, Dan Jennings and David Robertson combined with Covey to strike out 17 hitters on the night.
It’s been a tough stretch for the White Sox, one that at least in terms of consecutive losses is now over. Whether this season turns around for the better or stays a bumpy road remains to be seen. But what Renteria saw in his team, a steady approach and the most desired of baseball attitudes — not getting too low with losses — proved a winning trait Saturday night.
“The season is still young, and we know that we have a very good team,” Sanchez said. “We just try to have confidence in ourselves and just try to do our job, and we know that if we do our job, we’re going to be good.”