A brilliant outing by Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease went to waste Tuesday when the bullpen coughed up a late lead, but the Sox rallied three times for a 7-6, 12-inning victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
After being no-hit by Cease through five innings and shut out through six, the Blue Jays came back to take the lead with a three-run eighth, only to watch the Sox tie it in the ninth on Luis Robert’s two-out, two-run single off Jordan Romano.
From there the game became a pingpong match with spikes.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s RBI double off Kendall Graveman in the 10th was matched by Danny Mendick’s bases-loaded single in the bottom of the inning.
Raimel Tapia drove in a run off Vince Velasquez in the 11th before Robert’s sacrifice fly off Matt Gage tied it 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, setting off fireworks.
“That was a fun game to be a part of,” Harrison said. “When games are like that, that’s baseball. Back and forth, neither team giving up. Both bullpens’ pitchers. … Glad we came out on top. That’s what teams do. You pull from everybody.”
The game lasted 4 hours, 23 minutes.
“We kept battling until we got a win,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “It’s a very special win.”
At the end of the night, the Sox were at .500 again, 3½ games behind the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians, who moved into a first-place tie. The Sox and Blue Jays will play again Wednesday afternoon in the series finale, with Lucas Giolito starting for the Sox.
“That might be the most fun one we’ve had,” Cease said. “To be down late and come back and hang in there and ultimately win it late, those are the type of ballgames that get you into the playoffs at the end of the year.”
Cease left with a 2-0 lead after six innings, dominating from the outset. He struck out the first five batters and the final two he faced, tying a career high with 11 strikeouts, all coming on sliders. He didn’t allow a hit until Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s infield single leading off the sixth, and he walked two.
Cease said he wasn’t “too crazy harping on” the no-hit bid, but he was aware of it. With his pitch count mounting, he knew it was a long shot.
“In the back of my mind, I’m like, ‘All right, a seven-pitch inning here, maybe they let me go 120 (pitches),’” he joked. “Really it was just a pitch at a time.”
Harrison said Cease was unhittable from the outset.
“I was pretty much telling those boys, ‘Good luck,’” Harrison said. “He gave us everything we needed, gave us a great start. That’s what you expect out of a guy like Dylan. He’s done it time and time again.”
But the bullpen failed to get Cease his win, as La Russa went with Jimmy Lambert and Davis Martin in high-leverage situations. Alejandro Kirk’s solo home run off Lambert in the seventh sliced the Jays deficit in half before Martin gave up the lead in the eighth.
After a walk and infield hit put two men on, the runners were bunted over 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 around in time to find the ball, which dropped for a hit to tie the game at 2-2.
Bo Bichette followed with a grounder to short and reached when Biggio beat Anderson’s throw to second as Gurriel came around with the go-ahead run. After another walk to Guerrero, Martin was lifted for Jose Ruiz, who walked Kirk to force home another run.
The Sox staged a two-out rally in the ninth, ignited by Anderson’s walk and Andrew Vaughn’s double. Robert’s opposite-field single brought home the tying runs as the remnants of the crowd of 20,529 went wild.
José Abreu followed with a single, but Bradley Zimmer’s diving catch of AJ Pollock’s liner sent the game into extra innings.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” Harrison said. “This whole season has been a test of our character.”
And that’s when things got wild, overshadowing Cease’s outing.
But no one in the clubhouse forgot about it — or his unhittable slider.
“It’s a good feeling,” Cease said. “It feels like if I get in the zone I’m pretty unhittable. That’s pretty much what I was rolling with today.”