Today was a great day to play 2 – and to win the AL Central Division for the first time in 13 seasons.
The White Sox started out the first inning with a bang, as Tim Anderson hit his first homer of the season in September off of Aaron Civale to get the party started. He would add another homer – as would Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert – as part of a six-run sixth inning that was all the Sox needed to go home champions tonight.
On the pitching side, Reynaldo Lopez kept the White Sox in the game and was followed by Garrett Crochet, Aaron Bummer, Craig Kimbrel, and Liam Hendriks to shut the door and take game one of the day 7-2.
After clinching the American League Central in the initial game of the doubleheader, the White Sox played an exciting back-and-forth affair with the Indians before dropping the matinee on a walk-off home run from Oscar Mercado in game two. Michael Kopech opened and was brilliant for the White Sox. A total of four pitchers toed the rubber for the Sox on Thursday night, with Mike Wright, Matt Foster, and Jose Ruiz also logging appearances.
In his first game back from injury, Andrew Vaughn gave the Sox a great shot to win the game after putting them ahead 2-1 with a go-ahead hit in the 6th inning, but the lead would be squandered shortly after in the bottom half after Cleveland posted two runs to take a 3-2 advantage. Moments after that in the top of the 7th, a fielder’s choice from Cesar Hernandez brought in the tying run with the bases loaded.
Game 1 – W: Aaron Bummer (4-5) | L: Aaron Civale (11-5)
Game 2 – W: Emmanuel Clase (4-5) | L: Jose Ruiz (1-3)
Reynaldo Lopez (Game 1): 3.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
Lopez was solid today, and that’s exactly what the Sox needed from him. He got bit by the long ball a bit – giving up two in the game – but Reynaldo’s spot starts have been solid. For the second year in a row, he was on the mound when the White Sox clinched a playoff spot.
Tim Anderson (Game 1): 3-for-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
Tim Anderson set the tone (per usual) at the top of the lineup, leading off the game with a homer and sealing the deal with a three-run homer the next inning. Anderson keeps his average above .306 with the effort and continues to prove his value to the top of the lineup.
Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez (Game 1): 3-for-7, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K
Jimenez, who has been slumping as of late, needed the big hit he got that left the ballpark. As for La Pantera – he just continues to hit.
Michael Kopech (Game 2): 2.0 IP, 4 K, 0 H, 0 BB
Michael Kopech was about as sharp as could be in his open for the Sox on Thursday. Strikeouts accounted for four of six of his outs in two innings of work. He was electric during his limited time in the game with three pitches of 98 MPH+, in addition to collecting 4 whiffs on 3 swings on the slider.
Yasmani Grandal (Game 2): 2-for-3, 2 1B, BB
Yaz stayed hot with a pair of singles in addition to getting on base one time via the walk. Both of his singles came in the form of missiles with each tallying an exit velocity of 104.9 MPH. His 2-for-3 day at the plate boosted his season average to the .236 mark.
Andrew Vaughn (Game 2): 1-for-3, 1B, 2 RBI
Andrew Vaughn wasted no time in making an impact following his return from the 10-day injured list. After going hitless in his first two at-bats, Vaughn gave the White Sox the lead in the top of the 6th with a crucial 2-out, bases-loaded 2-RBI hit off of Indian’s reliever Bryan Shaw.
Matchup of the Game: Top 6 – 2 Outs: Andrew Vaughn vs Bryan Shaw
Andrew Vaughn and Bryan Shaw had an epic battle with the bases loaded in the top of the 6th. After the first two pitches of the AB, Vaughn found himself in an 0-2 hole. He ended up seeing eight more in a 10-pitch at-bat that he ended by smoking a 2-RBI single into left field to bring in the tying and go-ahead run giving the Sox a 2-1 advantage.
Player of the Game
The White Sox were desperately looking for an offensive spark in a game that initially lacked much of it. Andrew Vaughn did just that with a base hit after a clutch 10-pitch at-bat in the 6th accounted for all of the Sox offense in the game. Vaughn’s offense gave the Sox what they needed to pick up the win before the Indians stormed back in the 6th and 7th innings.
Game three of the series will take place on Friday evening in Cleveland with the first pitch scheduled for 6:10 PM CDT. The freshly crowned American League Central champions will have to deal with the return of Shane Bieber (7-4) as he’ll be making his first start since June 13 on Friday. The Sox will send Dylan Cease (12-7) to the bump to take on the defending Cy Young winner. Jason Benetti and Steve Stone will have the call on NBC Sports Chicago.