The slumping Chicago White Sox are playing a team that didn’t give up on its season despite a terrible start, so maybe they decided that was a pretty good strategy to adopt.
The White Sox could have easily given up on their Tuesday night game against the surging Cincinnati Reds despite falling behind 4-0 before they’d gotten an out and 7-2 following Adam Duvall’s three-run homer in the fifth inning.
And given up on the series, too, since the Reds beat them 5-3 on Monday for their 15th victory in a span of 20 games, the National League’s best record since June 10. The Reds also were 7-1 in interleague games.
Instead, the White Sox managed to tie it first at 7-all on a Leury Garcia pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth and at 8-all on Avisail Garcia’s second home run of the game and third of the series, in the ninth.
“The pitch was up and in but I was able to put the barrel on it and get a triple,” said Moncada, who had a three-hit night after coming in with a .191 average in his previous 44 games. “Little by little, the work I’ve been putting in day in and day out, I’ve been feeling better (at the plate).”
Well before the 12th, the White Sox began their comeback as Daniel Palka hit a two-run homer in the fourth, then teamed with Garcia to homer in the sixth. Garcia has a 13-game hitting streak, and is 14-for-30 with four homers and six RBIs in his last six games.
Now, after winning for only the second time in six contests and the sixth time in 19 games, the White Sox are in position to take the series if they can win Wednesday night at Great American Ball Park. White Sox right-hander Dylan Covey (3-3, 4.82 ERA) will oppose Reds right-hander Sal Romano (4-8, 5.30) in a matchup of pitchers who haven’t faced the opposing team before.
Covey is in a major slump, going 0-2 with an elevated 12.71 ERA with 12 walks and three strikeouts over his last three starts — this after he was 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in his first three starts in June. His last time out, he surrendered four home runs and eight earned runs in 2 1/3 innings of a 11-3 loss to the Texas Rangers on Friday.
“I made a couple of mistakes they capitalized on,” Covey told reporters afterward. “For the most part I was throwing good pitches. They were just taking the borderline ones and were all over everything that was in the zone. I don’t have an explanation.”
Manager Rick Renteria did.
“I think there were probably a lot of pitches left over the center of plate,” he said.
Or exactly the kind of pitches the White Sox jumped on Tuesday while getting 15 hits in only their second extra-inning win of the season, as compared to three losses. By winning, the White Sox avoided falling to a season-worst 27 games below .500.
The Reds have put together a string of improbable victories while starting to turn their season around after being 3-15 and 8-27. But this was a game in which they couldn’t hold a succession of leads — 4-0, 7-2, 8-7 — as they played more like they did in April.
“It got away from us late, but that’s a good offensive baseball team,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “Garcia’s a bear to deal with right now and he got us. … But we had a big-enough lead that we should have put it away in nine (innings).”
The Reds wasted a pair of two-run homers in the first by NL batting leader Scooter Gennett and NL RBIs leader Eugenio Suarez, plus Duvall’s three-run shot and a timely play by Billy Hamilton in which he scored the go-ahead run in the eighth on a ground ball to shortstop against a drawn-in infield.
“(But) we’ve been playing too good of baseball to get hung up on one game,” Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani said. “I don’t think this game is going to affect us one bit.”
Romano has pitched well in three of his last four starts, with a June 24 outing against the Cubs in which he gave up five runs in five innings being the only exception. He gave up only three runs over 20 innings in the other three starts.
White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu (sore ankle) is expected back in the lineup after sitting out Tuesday for precautionary reasons.