The Sox seemed all set to waste a great start from an unexpected source. They trailed 3-1 heading into the 9th, after Hector Santiago had offered an insurance home run to Mark Teixiera the previous frame.
Even though teams with so-so closers regularly throw up marks like '58-2 when leading after eight innings', those two games do exist.
Heading into the 9th, the White Sox had the luxury of avoiding the Yankees' closer, and instead faced a committee of secondary relievers. Cody Eppley allowed a leadoff single to Alex Rios, Clay Rapada took a soft groundball from Pierzynski to the mound and threw it into center field, and David Robertson topped them all by throwing a high fastball that Dayan Viciedo tomahawked into the left field seats for the go-ahead blast.
It's good that he did, otherwise something special was set to be wasted.
Dylan Axelrod in Yankee stadium against the New York offense seemed like a potentially seismic mismatch. and the first couple of times he turned to his 88 mph fastball to grab strikes served to remind exactly how difficult of a high-wire act he was puling. Yet his slider made the flight to New York with him, and more than anything he kept the ball down and out of trouble, in every inning except the 5th.
His command lapsed after getting the first two outs, and three straight hits--including two ringing doubles from Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano--dealt him the only two runs of damage he would yield on the night. The double from Rodriguez glanced off of De Aza's glove in center.
De Aza would not have been the goat anyway, as until the 9th, he collected four hits, and was all of the offense.
Addison Reed earned another white-knuckle save, ending the game with Derek Jeter flying out to the wall in right with a shot that was feet away from being the game-winning home run.
White Sox 4, Yankees 3
Dylan Axelrod - 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 115 pitches - Had a good slider and rode it about as far it could take him, which is just fine for a 5th starter. Maybe Philip Humber doesn't have to rush.
Alejandro De Aza - 4 for 5, HR - First home run in over a month, but was doing just fine without them.
Dayan Viciedo - 1 for 3, HR, BB, 3 RBI - He covered a strike in the top of the zone, he saved the game, he took a walk.
Adam Dunn - 0 for 2, 2 BB - Hey, he got on base!
Hector Santiago - IP, H, ER, 2 K, HR - Blew away the first two hitters with fastballs, then the third hitter realized what he was doing
Dayan Viciedo hasn't been the greatest at not getting blown away up in the zone, but turned around a 90 mph David Robertson offering for a dramatic three-run blast, and shifted the win probability for the game over 50%. It's hard to say what's actually a steady marker for Hawk's excitement scale, but this "HELL YES!" was well-earned
Things Would Be Different If...
This section was all set to be filled up with missed scoring opportunities by the Sox, but instead it can just be more room to celebrate Axelrod, who squeezed out seven innings thanks to a 3-2 strike 'em out, throw 'em out of Curtis Granderson to end his last scoring threat.
It's said to be a huge lift to any team to win come-from-behind games in the 9th, and in this blissful post-win state, it's easy to understand why.
More tangibly, the White Sox got a win in Yankee Stadium in a game where they started Dylan Axelrod, and narrowly escaped wasting one of however many great outings the young sinker-slider artist has in him. It was also a terrific moment for Dayan Viciedo and his development, as he needs to get untracked and rejuvenate the offense sooner rather than later.
The win also ensured the Sox would keep pace with Detroit and Cleveland, who both won Thursday night.
Team Record: 41-35, 2.5 games up