Brian Goodwin's getting used to coming through in the clutch.
Not a week after blasting a walk-off homer to beat the Cleveland Indians last Sunday, he hit the game-deciding dinger to send the Chicago White Sox to an extra-inning victory over the Chicago Cubs in the opening game of the Crosstown series Friday.
"This is the most fun season that I've ever had," Goodwin said after the White Sox pulled off an 8-6 win.
Goodwin's been a clutch signing for the White Sox in general. They added him on a minor league deal after the injury to Luis Robert, and he's come through in a big way, playing key innings in an injury-ravaged outfield and coming through with big at-bats as the lineup was thinned by further ailments to key players.
No at-bats have loomed larger, of course, than the two that ended in game-winning homers in the last week.
Goodwin has been one of the invaluable fill-ins that stepped up with players like Robert, Eloy Jiménez, Nick Madrigal and Yasmani Grandal on the shelf. One of the latest to join that group, César Hernández, was added in a trade ahead of last week's deadline. He, too, delivered Friday, turning a one-run game into a three-run game with his first homer for the White Sox in the eighth inning.
The heroics of those reserves can't be overstated, nor can their potential as the White Sox look toward October.
"When you look at the push toward the playoffs, you need a deep roster. You need guys to be able to come through in the clutch who might not be in there every day," White Sox starting pitcher Lance Lynn said. "Brian has been great for us since he's been here, and he's capable of a lot of things.
"We've got a deep roster here. We like what we have."
Lynn was brilliant again Friday, but two-thirds of the newly formed Ponytail Gang disappointed, Michael Kopech pitching just two-thirds of an inning in the seventh and newly acquired Craig Kimbrel coughing up three runs on four hits, including a game-tying three-run homer, in the eighth.
Thank goodness for Goodwin, not to mention Liam Hendriks, who stepped in to stop the bleeding in the eighth and fanned three Cubs hitters in the ninth to get the game to extras.
Now that the White Sox are getting healthy — Jiménez returned last week, Robert could be back Monday, and Grandal's working his way back at a rapid pace — it will be fascinating to see what comes of the fill-ins, particularly in the outfield.
The White Sox have some tough calls to make with Robert's return "imminent." The outfield will soon be mighty crowded, and it's hard to argue that anyone hasn't earned a shot to stick around. Goodwin's been clutch lately, Gavin Sheets has impressed in his first taste of the major leagues, Billy Hamilton boasts game-changing speed, and Jake Lamb is just hours off the injured list after receiving plaudits from White Sox manager Tony La Russa all season.
Sheets might be the most likely to go, just because he can be easily sent to the minors and re-summoned later in the season, in the event of an injury or when rosters slightly expand at the start of September.
Certainly Goodwin has spent the last week emphatically making his case as to why he deserves to stick around, and the possession of a clutch gene is a valuable thing as the White Sox chase a championship over the final two months of the regular season and throughout the postseason.
"I'm blessed, blessed to be in an opportunity, blessed to be on a good team, a fighting team, a scrappy team, one that don't give up," Goodwin said. "Just keep fighting to be in the position to put my talents on display there, no matter really what the situation is."