Last night's "homecoming" game had the familiar look of the past five White Sox contests--inning after inning of lost opportunity. When the Indians took a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth, the prospect of the Sox halting the losing streak seemed dim at best.
Then, in the bottom of that frame, the recently dormant, strikeout-prone bat of Adam Dunn came alive as the slugger sent homer No. 40 over the centerfield fence to narrow the Tribe lead to 3-2. Based on his recent production, or lack thereof, one could not imagine there was more to come. But there was.
In the bottom of the eighth against stingy Cleveland setup man Vinny Pestano, strange things started to happen--the Sox mounted a rally. Dan Johnson came off the bench to hit for Gordon Beckham and walked. Alejandro De Aza grounded to first as pinch-runner Jordan Danks cruised safely in the second. After Kevin Youkilis singled off of third baseman Jack Hannahan's glove, putting Sox runners on first and third with one out, it looked like there was a chance the South Siders could tie the score. Not guaranteed if you've watched the Sox offense lately, but a chance.
Then the almost-unimaginable occurred. Dunn, on an 0-2 count to boot, smashed a three-run shot over the right-centerfield wall to give the Sox a 5-3 advantage as a crazed and stunned crowd celebrated with glee. It got tense in the top of the ninth inning, but Donnie Veal closed it out for his first career save to preserve the one-game division lead over the Tigers with nine to go.
During the game, friend and Hall of Fame sportswriter Rick Bozich of Louisville, Kentucky, an unabashed Sox fan, texted me: "We need a Crede-Riske moment."
What Rick was referring to, of course, was the glorious moment during the agonizing 2005 pennant race with Cleveland when the Sox found themselves with a 2 1/2-game lead, down from 15 on August 1st, facing the Indians who were on a six-game winning streak and had already won the first game of the series.
Having come back on this particular Tuesday night from three deficits and blowing a ninth inning lead, the Sox looked very much like how the 2012 offense has been performing. And most significant of all, a loss would mean the South Siders' lead would dwindle to 1 1/2 games.
Then the Crede-Riske moment, as it is affectionately known, happened. Leading off the bottom of the 10th inning, Joe Crede hit a towering home run to leftfield off of Indians reliever David Riske. The Sox won, 7-6, took a 3 1/2-game lead and a few weeks later there was a parade in downtown Chicago.
Bozich's wish came true last night. We got our Crede-Riske moment and, like '05, all seems right in the world. We'll see if it takes the pressure off the Sox from their disastrous road trip and if they can use the heroics to boost them to the division title and beyond.
But for now, let's enjoy what from this day forward will be known in Sox lore as the Dunn-Pestano moment.