Their ace got hit hard and they stranded nine runners through the first seven innings on Wednesday night. Given everything that occurred the week before, nobody would have been surprised if the White Sox wilted against the Detroit Tigers and tried to salvage a series victory on Thursday afternoon.
But the belief everyone wearing black and white has consistently talked about, that things would eventually turn in their favor, materialized against Joba Chamberlain in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The result was an improbable, two-out rally as the White Sox batted around to top the Tigers 7-6 at U.S. Cellular Field. Melky Cabrera blasted a game-tying, three-run homer and Avisail Garcia provided the White Sox with their sixth straight two-out hit, a single to center to drive in the go-ahead run.
“We’re a very confident team regardless of what we’ve been through this past week,” rookie Micah Johnson said. “No one thinks we’re out of it in the dugout whatsoever. … The sense of confidence we have is pretty unbelievable. Everyone just passed the torch down to the next guy and everybody in the lineup gets up and it’s like, they’re going to get a hit.”
Though they had a good approach and knocked Detroit starter Alfredo Simon out after five innings and three runs, the White Sox didn’t have much to show for their effort. Through seven innings, the White Sox stranded nine base runners.
Everything changed against Chamberlain.
“It hurts every time you don't get one,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It's almost like golf when you miss a birdie, you feel like you really don't get that many opportunities. For us, they just kept putting it together.”
Johnson, who said he was “amped” after the first three-hit game of his career, singled with two outs. Adam Eaton, who also reached three times, lined one off the glove of third baseman Nick Castellanos into left field for a hit.
Cabrera then rocketed a 1-1 slider from Chamberlain into the right-field bleachers to stun a crowd subdued by 13 combined walks between the two teams.
But the White Sox didn’t stop there.
Jose Abreu singled to left and Adam LaRoche, who had two hits and a walk, singled him over to third base. Even though he fell behind 0-2 in the count, Garcia singled to center to complete the comeback.
“We needed that,” said Garcia, who was looking for a slider. “We needed to come back like that late in the game. If we keep doing that, we are going to be good for us.”
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The turnaround is a nice change of pace for Sale, who has done most of the heavy lifting for the White Sox the past two seasons. On a night in which he was off, the offense took care of Sale.
After he established a career record for runs allowed in his past outing, Sale tied a career high with five walks.
Not only did Sale walk batters, he didn’t have his customary command, making two-strike mistakes to Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera and the duo made him pay. Martinez hit a two-run homer on a 0-2 changeup to give Detroit a 3-1 lead. Two innings later, Cabrera singled with two strikes to drive in a run as the Tigers moved ahead 4-3. Sale escaped a fifth-inning jam but got back into trouble again in the sixth, which resulted in a run.
All things considered, catcher Tyler Flowers thought Sale played a key role. He was noticeably off and things could have been much worse. Instead, Sale limited the Tigers to five runs despite putting 12 men on base in 5 1/3 innings.
Combined with the bullpen, Sale gave the White Sox a chance to hang around -- something the team has been insisting all along is what matters right now.
Sale thinks Wednesday’s win can only boost confidence even more.
“It definitely feels good,” Sale said. “When you’re down in the dumps and all of a sudden you turn it around, you win a game like we did tonight, I think it’s going to help our morale and our mentality and give us a jolt going forward.”