A brilliant performance by Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease went to waste Tuesday when the bullpen coughed up a late lead, but the Red Sox rallied three times for a 7-6, 12-inning victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. .
After being no-hit by Cease in five innings and shutout in six, the Blue Jays came back to take the lead with three runs in the eighth, only to see the Sox tie it in the ninth with two outs from Luis Robert, two. -Simple race against Jordan Romano.
From there the game became a game of ping-pong with spikes.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s RBI double off Kendall Graveman in the 10th was matched by Danny Mendick’s bases-loaded single in the bottom of the inning.
Raimel Tapia drove in a run off Vince Velasquez in the 11th before Robert’s sacrifice fly off Matt Gage tied the bottom of the inning.
Velasquez held the Blue Jays scoreless in the 12th, and Josh Harrison’s two-out RBI single off Gage won it, setting off fireworks.
“That was a fun game to be a part of,” Harrison said. “When games are like this, that’s baseball. Back and forth, no team gives up. Pitchers from both bullpens. … I’m glad I made it to the top. That’s what teams do. You pull everyone.”
The game lasted 4 hours, 23 minutes.
“We kept fighting until we got a win,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “It’s a very special win.”
By the end of the night, the Red Sox were back at .500, 3½ games behind the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Guardians, who were tied for first place. The Red Sox and Blue Jays will play again on Wednesday afternoon in the series finale, with Lucas Giolito starting for the Red Sox.
“That might be the most fun we’ve ever had,” Cease said. “Being down late and coming back and hanging on and finally winning late, those are the kind of ball games that get you into the playoffs at the end of the year.”
Cese left with a 2-0 lead after six innings, dominating from the start. He struck out the first five batters and the last two he faced, tying a career high with 11 strikeouts, all on sliders. He didn’t allow a hit until Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s infield single leading off the sixth, and walked two.
Cease said he wasn’t “too crazy about insisting” on the no-hit attempt, but he was aware of it. With his pitch count rising, he knew it was a long shot.
“In the back of my mind, I was like, ‘Okay, a seven-pitch inning here, maybe they’ll let me do 120 (pitch),'” he joked. “It was really just one pitch at a time.”
Harrison said that Cease was unbeatable from the start.
“I was practically telling those guys, ‘Good luck,’” Harrison said. “He gave us everything we needed, he gave us a great start. That’s what you expect from a guy like Dylan. He has done it over and over again.”
But the bullpen couldn’t get Cease to win, as La Russa ran off with Jimmy Lambert and Davis Martin in high-leverage situations. Alejandro Kirk’s solo homer off Lambert in the seventh cut the Blue Jays’ deficit in half before Martin gave up the lead in the eighth.
After a walk and an infield hit put two men ahead, the runners got a bunt for pinch-hitter Cavan Biggio, who flied out behind second base. Shortstop Tim Anderson was in position to catch but couldn’t turn around in time to find the ball, which dropped for a hit to tie the game 2-2.
Bo Bichette followed up with a short grounder and it came when Biggio beat Anderson’s throw to second when Gurriel came around with the go-ahead run. After another walk to Guerrero, Martin was picked up by Jose Ruiz, who walked Kirk to force another run.
The Red Sox staged a two-out rally in the ninth, sparked by Anderson’s walk and Andrew Vaughn’s double. Robert’s opposite field single brought home the tying runs as the remaining 20,529 spectators went wild.
José Abreu followed with a single, but Bradley Zimmer’s diving catch off the line by AJ Pollock sent the game into extra innings.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” Harrison said. “This whole season has been a test of our character.”
And that’s when things got wild, overshadowing Cease’s exit.
But no one in the clubhouse forgot about that, or his unbeatable slider.
“It’s a good feeling,” Cease said. “It seems that if I get into the zone I’m pretty unbeatable. That’s pretty much what I was shooting today.”