What started as a trickle quickly turned into a flood. Red Sox pitching played with fire all night long against the White Sox on Saturday, and got burned by a crooked inning. A five-run rally for Chicago in the bottom of the fourth erased a seven-run Boston outbreak from the inning before But the Red Sox hung tough and pulled out a 9-8 victory in extra innings on Saturday night in Chicago’s South Side behind a four-RBI night from Travis Shaw.
The Red Sox had to fight from behind yet again.
Connor Seabold made his MLB debut on the mound for Boston and was serviceable in limited action. He pitched around some hard contact in the first inning, inducing a double play to retire the White Sox in order despite a walk and a sharply-hit line out from Louis Robert. But in the second, he didn’t get away with the same mistakes.
His tendency to miss up in the strike zone with a fastball that averaged just a hair above 90 mph came back to bite him, as Seabold surrendered a single to Yasmani Grandal then a two-run home run to right field — a 427-foot no-doubter — to Leury García.
Boston managed to come right back and cut their deficit in the following inning. Kiké Hernández started the rally with a one-out single, then White Sox starter Dylan Cease walked three straight hitters. The third free pass to Rafael Devers brought home Hernandez and cut the Chicago lead in half to 2-1.
Alex Verdugo followed with a slicing single to left center that scored Kyle Schwarber and Xander Bogaerts. Then Bobby Dalbec joined the party, driving in an extra score with a single to left. With the Sox already up two runs, Shaw delivered the capper. He cleaned out an 98 mph fastball that came low and inside, depositing it in the left field bleachers for a three-run home run to extend the Red Sox’s lead to 7-2.
In the bottom half of the third, Seabold gave up a double and a walk, but was able to escape a first and second jam. He rolled another timely ground ball that Bogaerts and Hernández turned into an inning-ending double play.
His night was over after the third. Seabold went just three innings, surrendered two runs on three hits and two walks and threw 43 pitches. White Sox hitters knocked the rookie around. Chicago hitters recorded seven batted balls with an exit velocity of 95 mph or more. If not for the two double plays, his line would have been much uglier.
Garrett Richards relieved Seabold but found little success. He walked Grandal, the second batter he faced, and a couple of booted ground balls by Devers let two more runners reach. Richards then walked eight-hitter Brian Goodwin to bring in a run.
Richards tallied a strikeout but Louis Robert tagged a bases-clearing double into left, bringing home three runs to make it 7-6, Boston. That would prove to be the end of the line for Richards, who was charged with five runs over just ⅔ innings pitched.
And while Chicago was storming back offensively, they unleashed a former Red Sox prospect from the bullpen. Michael Kopech, a former first-round pick who was dealt to the White Sox in December 2016, dominated for two innings. He bridged the fifth and the seventh by retiring seven of the eight batters he faced — five via strikeout.
Craig Kimbrel, who was an All-Star closer in each of his three years in Boston, pitched the eighth and was efficient, but gave up the tying run. After Christian Vázquez doubled, Kimbrel spiked a 0-2 pitch that snuck past the catch Grandal. Vazquez’s pinch runner Jack Lopez moved up to third with one out, setting up Hernandez for his eventual sacrifice fly.
With the game tied at eight, the White Sox turned to Liam Hendricks in the ninth. He let Hunter Renfroe advance into scoring position on a single and wild pitch, but emphatically struck out Verdugo to hold Boston scoreless.
Garrett Whitlock also pitched around some trouble in the ninth. He stranded Robert at second after he doubled just past the outstretched glove of Renfroe in right field. Robert’s double made an outstanding play from Bogaerts at shortstop even more crucial in retrospect. Bogaerts slid behind second base to make the stop on a grounder destined for center field and spun on the ground before firing to first and retiring García, who would have scored on the Robert double.
Boston wasted no time retaking the lead in the 10th. Verdugo began the inning at second and advanced to third on a sacrifice grounder from Dalbec. One batter later, Shaw ripped a single through the right side of the infield and Verdugo scored easily to make it 9-8.
Josh Taylor got the ninth and survived, earning his first career save despite ominous traffic on the basepaths. He surrendered a hit but dialed up the heat to strike out a pair of batters and elicit a ground ball from Goodwin that Hernandez shifted perfectly to field and ended the game. .
The Red Sox improved to 81-63 and evened this series with the AL Central-leading White Sox. They will at least maintain their one-game lead over the Yankees and Blue Jays in the wild card standings.