SEATTLE -- Outlandish as it may seem, the White Sox continue to cling for dear life to whatever limited postseason chances they have.
They rallied from two runs down in the ninth inning before pulling away from the Seattle Mariners for a 6-3 victory in 10 innings in front of 32,085 at Safeco Field. Avisail Garcia drew a bases-loaded walk against Danny Farquhar in the 10th inning and the White Sox scored twice more to win their third straight. Garcia’s fifth game-winning RBI of the season helped the White Sox move back within 4 1/2 games of the Texas Rangers for the second spot in the wild-card race.
“Crazier stuff has happened,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “With the pitching we have, guys are still scrapping and getting after it and that’s what you want. You want believers in there and right now they’re believing they can go out and win games.”
Saturday’s late-inning heroics should only bolster the team’s confidence.
For eight innings, the White Sox looked listless against Vidal Nuno and Tom Wilhelmsen. The White Sox went down in order in the first, fourth, sixth and eighth innings and Trayce Thompson provided their lone run with a rocket of a solo homer in the second inning off Nuno.
But Garcia opened a ninth-inning rally with a single to center and pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck walked against closer Carson Smith. Alexei Ramirez singled in a run to make it a 3-2 game and pinch-hitter Adam LaRoche’s RBI ground out tied it at 3.
The White Sox picked it back up in the 10th. Tyler Saladino walked on four pitches and Jose Abreu doubled him to third. Garcia followed an intentional walk to Melky Cabrera with a free pass of his own to push across the lead run.
“You’ve got more experience with what they’re going to do to you (in that situation),” Garcia said. “I saw the Saladino at-bat, (Farquhar) was a little bit wild. With that guy you don’t have to be trying to do too much because he’s a little bit wild. He throws a hard sinker, throws 95, 96, so you’re looking for a good pitch to hit and try to focus on the middle of the plate.”
A passed ball led to another run and Carlos Sanchez had an RBI fielder’s choice to make it a 6-3 lead. A month after he said Garcia needs to know the scouting report reads he’ll swing at almost anything, Ventura has seen some gains from the young right fielder.
“He’s had times where he hasn’t been very patient but we’ve seen some improvement in that,” Ventura said. “I think he’s growing up and understanding how to do that in situations.”
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Carlos Rodon fought through several tense spots early before the Mariners broke through in the sixth inning.
Trailing 1-0, Franklin Gutierrez’s two-run doubled to left center put Seattle ahead 2-1. Another run scored when Jesus Montero grounded into a double play.
Rodon allowed three runs (one earned), six hits and walked four while striking out eight in seven innings. But courtesy of his team’s late rally, Rodon received a no decision instead of another tough luck loss like the one he suffered in Southern California on Monday.
“Give your team a chance to win and that’s all you can do,” Rodon said. “They swung the bats today and it’s great. Maybe a little later on, but a win is a win and I’m happy.”
Despite the rollercoaster ride they’ve endured all season, the White Sox have somehow maintained an upbeat outlook. Several critical players have endured massive slumps, the offense has never found a steady rhythm and the White Sox (57-63) can’t seem to get past the .500 mark. Even so, the White Sox continue to push forward and “focus on tonight” instead of looking at the big picture.
That positivity may have paid dividends against a hapless Mariners bullpen.
Even though the White Sox never solved Nuno, who allowed a run andfive hits over 6 2/3 innings, they knew they had a chance after he left. They’re hoping their attitude pays off in the big picture, too.
“These guys have been steady all year,” LaRoche said. “From the players to the coaches, everybody affiliated with this team has stayed positive. There were some very frustrating times but you wouldn’t be able to tell in the clubhouse.”