The Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees were tied in the bottom of the ninth Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Tim Anderson represented the potential winning run for the Sox at second base.
Some hitters might try to do too much to produce for a team in those circumstances. But Luis Robert exhibited patience, waiting for the right pitch to attack against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.
Robert took three balls and a strike. Then he got his pitch, ripping a single to right. Anderson scored ahead of Aaron Judge’s throw, giving the Sox a thrilling 3-2 victory in front of 32,830.
“I was trying to be early with his fastball,” Robert said through an interpreter, of his approach in the situation. “I was trying to make contact.”
It was the second game-ending hit of Robert’s career. The first came during his rookie season, when he a home run on Aug. 30, 2020 against the Kansas City Royals.
“This felt better,” Robert said. “I was more excited, fans here versus the Yankees. After two losses, this one was very good.”
Dallas Keuchel gave the Sox a pitching boost Saturday, scattering four hits in five shoutout innings. He struck out three and walked three in the 86-pitch outing.
“We’ve made our fair share of mistakes the first couple of nights (of the series) and they’ve capitalized a lot on those,” Keuchel said. “I felt like if I could make some pitches and execute early, I had a good chance. It’s fun to pitch against a team like that with the way they are swinging the bats and the depth of their lineup, they can interchange a few guys every night it seems like.
“They just keep rolling. But we are a good team too.”
Keuchel followed up a strong outing against the Boston Red Sox with one against the Yankees. He went a season-high six innings May 8 at Fenway Park, allowing two runs on six hits in a 3-2 win.
Wednesday’s postponed game against the Cleveland Guardians pushed his start back a day. He was ready for the team with the best record in baseball.
“He’s spent his whole career pitching against good teams, rights and lefts,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “He beat a good team in Boston. They’re good. When he executes his pitches, he’s got a lot of weapons.”
Keuchel got a double-play grounder to wrap up the first. It was the first time in the series the Sox didn’t 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 from Robert for the first run. Robert extended his hitting streak to 12.
Yoán Moncada homered leading off the third.
Keuchel exited with the 2-0 lead after getting Anthony Rizzo to ground out to second baseman Josh Harrison with the bases loaded to end the fifth.
“I’m feeling more like myself,” Keuchel said. “I told you (reporters) I was close. I would have liked to have gone a little bit longer tonight. I thought that was my job. I’m a little disappointed in five.
“My job is to go out there and throw as many as I can. I thought (86) pitches I had enough to at least go six. With how many games we’re playing (17 games in 17 days), I thought I had at least 100 pitches tonight. That didn’t happen. I’m not very happy with that but that’s the competitor in me and we’re going to have to figure out something (Sunday) because we have a lot more guys down now too.”
Reliever Kendall Graveman allowed 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 struck out Josh Donaldson and Gleyber Torres, keeping it at 2-1.
The Yankees tied the game on a Kyle Higashioka sacrifice fly in the ninth, but Isiah Kiner-Falefa was out trying to advance to third on the play. Moncada cut off AJ Pollock’s throw and got the ball to Anderson, who was covering third and tagged Kiner-Falefa for the second out of the inning.
“Excellent relay and cutoff,” La Russa said. “That was huge.”
Anderson singled with one out in the ninth and Moncada walked, bringing up Robert.
“That’s high baseball IQ because you’re not going to walk (Chapman) off with a home run, his stuff is too good,” La Russa said. “You’ve got to find a way to get somebody on base. Tim’s base hit was huge, the walk from Moncada, they did a good job taking what he gave, and he ain’t going to give you a lot that you can do big damage.”
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,” Robert said. “But today we came prepared and were able to execute and then we got on top.”