CHICAGO – They came into the ninth inning with a six-run lead and a six-game winning streak, and both of those were about to disappear.
A strong bullpen suddenly faltered, the defense didn’t help them, and the Guardians’ bats erupted at just the right time Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field. The result was a dream finish for the visitors while the hosts were left stunned.
The White Sox 8-2 lead disappeared in a nightmare ninth inning that was one to forget for the team and ended their six-game winning streak with a thud. While it was a three-run homer by Josh Naylor in the 11th inning that would ultimately give the Guardians a 12-9 victory, it was that fateful ninth frame that left everyone talking.
- It featured six hits by Cleveland
- Two of those were home runs
- The White Sox made two critical errors
- Liam Hendriks, who hadn’t allowed a run in his previous six appearances, blew a save
Andres Gimenez’s homer off Tanner Banks started it off which was then followed by a bizarre play in which AJ Pollock’s throw from left field after a hit by Amed Rosario bounced off Tim Anderson’s glove. The ball would go all the way past first base into foul territory allowing the runner to go to third.
Austin Hedges then hit a ball to third towards Yoan Moncada, who was back in his first game since coming off the IL. He couldn’t get a hold of it, allowing Rosario to score and Hedges to reach first to make it 8-4. Banks collected himself with a strikeout and then a force out, but a walk convinced Tony LaRussa to bring in his closer.
But Hendriks surrendered a hit to Owen Miller to load the bases before Naylor delivered the game-tying Grand Slam into the right-center field seats to tie the game.
What made it worse is the White Sox had the chance to get it back in the ninth and tenth inning, loading the bases each time. Adam Engel’s hot shot down the left field line was grabbed by Jose Ramirez, who threw to first just in time to prevent the winning run from scoring.
After Cleveland got a run in the top of the tenth, the White Sox got one back and then loaded the bases with one out. But force outs by Moncada and Jose Abreu ended the threat.
Naylor’s three-run homer off Ryan Burr with two outs in the ninth but an end to a miserable night for the White Sox that began with so much promise. Starter Michael Kopech allowed just one run in six innings with just two hits and seven strikeouts while Gavin Sheets and Pollock each had three-run homers.
Yet in the end, it didn’t matter. One bad frame was all it took to produce a nightmare finish.