Tea White Sox deserve credit for competing for much of this game. Twice, the Yankees took leads in the first few innings. Twice, the White Sox came back to either snatch the lead away or tie it up. Perhaps resenting the fighting spirit of the Pale Hose, the Yankees erupted for seven runs in the top of the eighth after a Yoán Moncada homer knotted the score in the seventh. When the dust had settled and Chad Green had thrown the last pitch, the final was 15-7, New York.
Dylan Cease came out firing seeds in the top of the first for the White Sox, striking out the side. Unfortunately for him, striking out the side doesn’t always mean that you threw a perfect frame. DJ LeMahieu laced a leadoff double and two batters later, Giancarlo Stanton got a slider hanging up and crushed it 115.9 mph into the air to the opposite field:
Stanton’s two-run bomb put the Yankees in front, 2-0.
Making his first MLB start of 2022, Luis Gil looked electricity in the first inning by striking out two hitters in a perfect frame, but the shaky form he showed toward the conclusion of his 2021 reemerged in the second. Luis Robert singled out to begin the inning and Gil sailed four pitches nowhere close to the zone, allowing Yasmani Grandal to walk. After a foul out, AJ Pollock doubled down the left-field line to cut the two-run lead in half, and Leury García’s soft hit to right found grassscoring both runners to make it 3-2, Chicago (though a pickoff by Gil ended the inning).
Cease continued to fan Yankees left and right; in fact, all of his first eight outs recorded came via the K. However, the Bombers also continued to flat runs against the 26-year-old right-hander. In the top of the third, Aaron Judge worked a one-out walk and Anthony Rizzo lined one past José Abreu and into the right-field corner. It skipped away from Adam Engel, allowing Judge to tie the game and Rizzo to notch his first triple in pinstripes.
Stanton was up next and Cease made the mistake of leaving a 96.4-mph fastball down the heart of the plate. The muscle man obliged, smashing another opposite-field homer to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead.
Career homer No. 356 put Stanton at 89th all-time, passing Greg Vaughn. Next up is a familiar face: Yankees legend Yogi Berra (and former White Sox slugger Carlos Lee) at 358.
Cease left the game in the fourth after notching his 11th punchout, but not before giving up a sixth run. Kyle Higashioka reached on a two-out single and LeMahieu doubled him in with a shot to the left. It was a 6-3 ballgame, and there’s little doubt that Cease has never left a double-digit-strikeout game more disappointed than he did during this strange night.
The White Sox got one back in the fourth as Gil lost his command, but the Yankees should be thankful that they didn’t get more. With one out, Gavin Sheets walked and Pollock and Engel knocked back-to-back singles to load the bases. Manager Aaron Boone decided to stick with Gil rather than go to the similarly-wild Miguel Castro warming in the bullpen, and the results were mixed. García hit into a force out, but an extremely wild pitch with Tim Anderson up scored Pollock.
Gil was only saved by Anderson swinging at another bad one for strike three. Not one of his six pitches to Anderson fell in the zone. All told though, four innings of four-run ball was about adequate for Gil against good bats like the ones in the Chicago order. He’ll probably return to Triple-A tomorrow since they’ll want a fresh reliever, and that’s A-OK.
The next few innings were quiet outside of a decidedly-unquiet 456-foot tank job of a solo shot by Judge to put the Yankees up, 7-4. In the home half of the seventh, however, the White Sox came storming back. García reach on an infield single that deflected off Lucas Luetge’s glove, and Boone tabbed Jonathan Loáisiga to relieve him. The 2021 relief ace was once again not at his best, and walked the chase-happy Anderson to bring the tying run to the plate.
Regrettably for Loáisiga, that batter was Moncada, playing in his third game of 2022 after missing the first month with an oblique injury. He proved that power is still a key part of his game with 417-foot shot to center to knot this game up at 7-7.
Loáisiga’s command was off from the jump, but the three-batter minimum locked him in. The bullpen was going to have to fire on all cylinders to close this win out, so he was probably going to appear at some point. He didn’t have it. We can only hope that Loáisiga rights himself next time out.
Septuagenarian White Sox manager Tony La Russa did his best to give the Yankees life in the top of the eighth, though. In came old foe Joe Kelly, and inevitably, in came the poor command. He got the first two outs before loading the bases for Judge on three consecutive walks to Marwin Gonzalez, Gleyber Torres (in an excellent pinch-hit at-bat), and LeMahieu. That set the stage for Judge to come through again, albeit in less traditional fashion:
Partial kudos to Judge’s deceptive speed on beating out this hit and even greater kudos to the hustling Torres, who scored from second on an infield single when Abreu didn’t throw home quickly enough.
The Yankees had a two-run lead, and following a Rizzo walk, that only expanded when Kelly left the ballgame for — somewhat inexplicably — a left-hander to face Stanton with the bases loaded. Shockingly, that La Russa move did not work out either, as Stanton blistered a 116.7-mph single to plate two more (setting a career-high with six RBI) and Josh Donaldson joined the party with a three-run blast to put a stamp on this odd ballgame.
One last rally in the ninth tacked on another run and the final score was 15-7. Just a normal ol’ Thursday night at the ballpark on the South Side! The Yankees are now 23-8, sitting in first place with the best record in baseball. That will play.
The Yankees will send a more familiar starter to the mound tomorrow in ace Gerrit Cole. He’ll face form Phillies up-and-comer Vince Velasquez, who is trying to revive his career in Chicago. Be warned that this will be one of those Friday night matchups streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video for those in the New York City market. First pitch is at 8:10 pm ET.