If it wasn't June and it wasn't just 61 games into the season, you would have sworn Saturday the White Sox had just repeated as World Series champions as they mobbed each other at home plate like Little Leaguers.
And what was the cause of this celebration at U.S. Cellular Field?
"It [might be] one of the best games we played all year long as a team," said manager Ozzie Guillen, as upbeat as he has been all season. "I'm so excited about the ballclub today. Hopefully we'll keep on the roll we've been on the last couple of days."
The last couple of days have featured two one-run victories over Cleveland. In fact, their last four victories all have been by one run, including the first two against Detroit, which Saturday maintained its half-game lead over the Sox. Before that, the Sox had lost three straight one-run games.
Last season the Sox were 35-19 in one-run games. After their last four victories, they have improved to 11-8 this year, perhaps an indication things have turned around. Perhaps.
"As long as the pitching staff can keep us close, with the offense we have, we can come back against anybody," Guillen said. "We did it [twice Saturday]. We approach the game the right way, bunt when we have to bunt, every little thing."
It was starter Mark Buehrle who kept the Sox close, going eight innings and yielding only two runs on six hits. And the double comeback was textbook stuff, the latter against Indians' closer Bob Wickman, who had converted 24 straight saves dating to last season.
"Going back to last year, some games we're not supposed to win we [do]," Buehrle said.
The Sox singled Wickman into submission in the 11th, in which they trailed 3-2 coming in. A.J. Pierzynski, who came into the game in the eighth inning, singled and was sacrificed to second by Scott Podsednik, who also entered in the eighth.
Rob Mackowiak, who came on in the seventh, knocked in Pierzynski with a single but subsequently was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Pablo Ozuna's single. Tadahito Iguchi picked him up when he slipped a single past first base to score Ozuna with the game-winner. "We were able to play baseball the way Ozzie likes to play baseball," Iguchi said through an interpreter. "This team never gives up. We know how to play baseball to win."
The Sox also came back to tie the game 2-2 in the eighth when pinch-hitter Podsednik singled home Alex Cintron.
The winner was Agustin Montero, who got one out in the 11th after Matt Thornton had allowed the go-ahead homer to Victor Martinez. Guillen even used closer Bobby Jenks in a non-save situation in the ninth to get into extra innings. While the bullpen was not depleted, the Sox bench was. The only unused player was Joe Crede, who was nursing a sore back.
But the Sox suddenly are in one of those streaks where they do little wrong, giving them their 19th comeback victory, compared to 37 last season. No wonder Guillen was so exuberant, not to mention those of the 36,265 fans who stayed all game.
"The players made me look good [Saturday]," Guillen said. "Every button I pushed seemed like it worked. I wish we could play like this every day."
White Sox 4, Indians 3 (11 inn.)
White Sox again stun Indians with 1-run win
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