The Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees were tied at Guaranteed Rate Field in the bottom of the ninth Saturday.
Tim Anderson represented the potentially winning run for the Sox at second base.
Some hitters may try to do too much to produce for a team in those circumstances. But Luis Robert showed patience, waiting for the right field to attack against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.
Robert took three balls and a strike. Then he got his pitch and ripped a single to the right. Anderson scored for Aaron Judge’s pitch to give the Sox a thrilling 3-2 victory for 32,830.
“I was trying to be early with his fastball,” Robert said through an interpreter of his approach to the situation. “I tried to make contact.”
It was the second game-ending hit of Robert’s career. The first came during his rookie season, when he hit a home run against the Kansas City Royals on August 30, 2020.
“This felt better,” said Robert. “I was more excited, fans here versus the Yankees. After two defeats, this one was very good.”
The Sox dropped the first two games of the series, allowing for a total of 25 runs.
Dallas Keuchel gave the Sox a pitching boost on Saturday, racking up four hits in five shoutout innings. He struckout three batters and walked three in the 86-pitch outing.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the first few nights (of the series) and they capitalized on that a lot,” Keuchel said. “I felt like if I could make some pitches and execute early, I had a good chance. It’s nice to play against a team like that with the way they swing the bats and the depth of their lineup, they can switch a few guys every night it seems.
“They just keep rolling. But we are also a good team.”
Keuchel followed a strong outing against the Boston Red Sox with one against the Yankees. He went six innings high of the season on May 8 at Fenway Park, giving up two runs on six hits in a 3-2 win.
Wednesday’s postponed game against the Cleveland Guardians pushed his start back one day. He was ready for the team with the best record in baseball.
“He’s pitched his entire career against good teams, rights and left,” said Sox manager Tony La Russa. “He beat a good team in Boston. They are good. When he does his pitches, he has a lot of weapons.”
Keuchel got a double-play grounder to complete the first. It was the first time in the series that the Sox did not allow a run in the first.
The Sox did the damage in the first Saturday. Anderson singled, one of his three hits, and scored on a single by Robert for the first run. Robert extended his batting streak to 12.
Yoán Moncada homered in the third inning.
Keuchel got out with a 2-0 lead after grounding Anthony Rizzo to second baseman Josh Harrison with the bases loaded to end the fifth.
“I feel more like myself,” Keuchel said. “I told you (reporters) I was close. I would have liked to have been gone a little longer tonight. I thought that was my job. I’m a little disappointed in five.
“My job is to go out and throw as many as I can. I thought (86) pitches I had enough to do at least six. How many games we play (17 games in 17 days), I thought I had at least 100 pitches tonight. That didn’t happen. I’m not very happy about that, but that’s the competitor in me and we’ll have to come up with something (Sunday), because we have a lot more guys now too.”
Reliever Kendall Graveman gave up one hit in two scoreless innings.
The Yankees scored once in the eighth against Joe Kelly, and the Sox brought in closer Liam Hendriks with two on and one out. He struckout Josh Donaldson and Gleyber Torres to make it 2-1.
The Yankees tied the game on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Higashioka in the ninth, but Isiah Kiner-Falefa was eliminated trying to move into third place in the game. Moncada cut off the throw from AJ Pollock and got the ball to Anderson, who covered third place and tagged Kiner-Falefa out of the inning for the second.
“Excellent relay and closing,” said La Russa. “That was huge.”
Anderson singled with one out in the ninth and Moncada walked to bring Robert to the front.
“That’s a high baseball IQ because you (Chapman) aren’t going to take off with a home run, his stuff is too good,” said La Russa. “You have to find a way to get someone on the base. Tim’s single was huge, Moncada’s walk, they did a good job of taking what he gave, and he won’t give you much that you can wreak havoc.
Robert found a hole through the right side of the infield and Anderson did the rest, giving the Sox their first walkoff win of the season.
“The first two games they were just better than us,” said Robert. “But today we came prepared and we were able to perform and then we came out on top.”