A brilliant performance by Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease was lost on Tuesday when the bullpen coughed up a late lead, but the Sox rallied three times for a 7-6, 12-inning win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
After being untouched by Cease for five innings and being out for six innings, the Blue Jays came back to take the lead with an eighth of three runs, but saw the Sox tie the tie in the ninth on Luis Robert’s two-out, two-run single on Jordan Romano.
From there, the game became a spiked ping pong match.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s RBI double off Kendall Graveman in the 10th was matched by Danny Mendick’s basesloaded single in the bottom of the inning.
Raimel Tapia put in a run off Vince Velasquez in the 11th before Robert’s sacrifice fly by Matt Gage tied it up in the bottom of the inning.
Velasquez held the Jays scoreless in the 12th and Josh Harrison’s two-out RBI single off Gage won it and set off fireworks.
“That was a fun game to be in,” Harrison said. “If games are like that, that’s baseball. Back and forth, neither team gives up. The pitchers of both bullpens. … Glad we came out on top. That’s what teams do. You attract everyone.”
The match lasted 4 hours and 23 minutes.
“We kept fighting until we got a win,” said Sox manager Tony La Russa. “It’s a very special win.”
At the end of the evening, the Sox were again at .500, 3½ games behind the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians, who went to a tie in first place. The Sox and Blue Jays will play again in the series finale on Wednesday afternoon, with Lucas Giolito starting for the Sox.
“That might be the most fun we’ve had,” Cease said. “Being late and coming back and hanging there and finally winning late, those are the kind of ball games that get you to the playoffs at the end of the year.”
Get up after six innings with a 2-0 lead and dominated from the start. He struckout the first five batters and the last two batters he faced to finish a career with 11 strikeouts, all on sliders. He didn’t give up a basehit until Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s infield single early in the sixth, and walked two.
Cease said he wasn’t “too crazy” with the no-hit bid, but he was aware of it. With his pitch count rising, he knew it was a long shot.
“In the back of my mind I’m like, ‘Okay, an inning of seven pitches here, maybe they’ll let me go 120 (pitches)’,” he joked. “Actually, it was only one pitch at a time.”
Harrison said Cease was unreachable from the start.
“I actually said ‘good luck’ to those guys,” Harrison said. “He gave us everything we needed, gave us a great start. That’s what you expect from a man like Dylan. He’s done it over and over.”
But the bullpen failed to hold back on its win as La Russa went along with Jimmy Lambert and Davis Martin in high leverage situations. Alejandro Kirk’s solo homerun off Lambert in the seventh cut Jays’ deficit in half before Martin relinquished the lead in the eighth.
After a walk and an infield hit resulted in two men, the runners were skipped for pinch hitter Cavan Biggio, who lofted a pop-up behind second base. Shortstop Tim Anderson was in position for the catch, but couldn’t turn in time to find the ball, which fell for a hit and made the game 2-2.
Bo Bichette followed with a grounder to short and reached when Biggio beat Anderson’s throw to second base when Gurriel came around with the go-ahead run. After another walk to Guerrero, Martin was fielded for Jose Ruiz, who walked Kirk to force another run.
The Sox rallied with two outs in the ninth, which was ignited by the walk by Anderson and the double by Andrew Vaughn. Robert’s single on the opposite field brought in the tying run, while the rest of the crowd of 20,529 broke out.
José Abreu followed with a single, but Bradley Zimmer’s diving catch of AJ Pollock’s liner caused the game to go into extra time.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” Harrison said. “This whole season has been a test of our character.”
And then things got wild, overshadowing Cease’s outing.
But no one in the clubhouse forgot – or his untouchable slider.
“It’s a good feeling,” Cease said. “I feel like I’m unreachable when I get into the zone. That was pretty much what I was rolling with today.”