Tony La Russa has been in baseball for a long time.
The Chicago White Sox manager described Thursday night against the New York Yankees as “some ‘see it to believe it’ stuff.”
The teams entered the eighth tied, but the Yankees scored seven runs with two outs in the inning to beat the Sox 15-7 in front of 20,050 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Said La Russa: “That eighth inning, two outs, nobody on, the way the ball is coming out of (reliever) Joe (Kelly’s) hands, to look up and see a seven spot, you had to see it to believe it.”
Kelly retired the first two batters of the eighth, but walked the next three to load the bases for slugger Aaron Judge, who hit a slow grounder up the middle which second baseman Leury García fielded. Judge beat García’s off-balanced throw to first and two runs scored on the sequence.
Anthony Rizzo walked and Giancarlo Stanton drove in two with a bases-loaded single against Tanner Banks.
Josh Donaldson followed with a three-run homer, the fourth home run of the night for the Yankees. Kelly suffered the loss, allowing five runs on one hit with four walks in two-thirds of an inning.
“It doesn’t matter, two outs, one out, no outs, walks are not it,” Kelly said. “… Sometimes you’ve just got to pitch better.
“They’re good hitters. I’ve faced them numerous times. Free passes are usually not the way to get them out. But I’ll face them again and throw it right at them.”
The Yankees’ power was on full display throughout the night.
Stanton went 3-for-4 with two home runs and six RBIs. Judge hit a solo home run and finished with four RBIs as the team with the best record in baseball took the opener of the four-game series.
The Yankees won for the 16th time in their last 18 games. The Sox lost for just the second time in their last nine.
Sox starter Dylan Cease had good stuff, matching a career high with 11 strikeouts. But he was hurt by the long ball, surrendering the two homers to Stanton.
“They’ve got a lot of professional hitters obviously, they have a game plan,” Cease said. “They put up a lot of good at-bats. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap.”
Cease allowed six runs on six hits with the 11 strikeouts and two walks in four innings.
The first eight outs were strikeouts and, according to Elias, he became the first White Sox starting pitcher in the expansion era (since 1961) to get each of his first eight outs of a game in that fashion.
It was his 11th career double-digit strikeout outing, tying him with Billy Pierce for the eighth-most in franchise history. Still, the Sox were in a 6-4 hole after four innings.
“They really capitalized really well tonight,” Cease said. “It’s definitely the weirdest stat line I’ve ever been a part of.”
Judge’s solo homer in the seventh against Ryan Burr gave the Yankees a 7-4 lead.
García began the bottom of the seventh with a single and Tim Anderson walked.
Yoán Moncada, who began the season on the injured list and made his season debut Monday, followed with a three-run home run to center to tie the game.
But just as quickly as the Sox gained some momentum, it vanished.
“That first walk (in the eighth to Marwin Gonzalez) was a tough one and a couple pitches on (the next hitter Gleyber) Torres, (Kelly) just barely missed and it escalated,” La Russa said. “He was throwing the ball well, he got ahead and tried to put Torres away and it looked like it barely missed. He could have chased it and didn’t.
“Then you’re facing the heart of the lineup and he’s pitching careful. And then the break that turned it all over, the contact by Judge that should have been the third out but it was perfectly placed and two runs (score). If we can make a play on that ball we’re in good shape.
“I mean, you had to see it to believe it. I still don’t believe it.”