Lind’s stunning homer off closer David Robertson capped a four-run rally after Chris Sale limited the Mariners to one hit in eight shutout innings.
The Mariners didn’t follow up their “worst game of the season” on Sunday with an even worse showing Monday night.
Nope, they pulled off one of their more stunning wins in a season where there have been more than a few of them.
Shut down and shut out for the first eight innings by White Sox All-Star left-hander Chris Sale, the Mariners trailed 3-0 going into the bottom of the ninth. But the Mariners scored four runs off White Sox closer David Robertson, highlighted by Adam Lind’s three-run walkoff homer to pull out an improbable 4-3 win in front of the remaining crowd of 20,598 at Safeco Field.
White Sox @ M’s, 7:05 p.m., ROOT Sports
“As ugly as yesterday was, that’s the great thing about baseball, you show up and play again the next day and start all over,” manager Scott Servais said. “We played a better ballgame. They hung in there. It wasn’t looking so good, but that’s why you play all 27 outs and keep believing and hoping. You get the tying run to the plate or the winning run to the plate, maybe you can get some magic.”
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When Franklin Gutierrez led off the ninth with a single, it was just Seattle’s second hit of the game. Following a fielder’s choice by Robinson Cano for an out, Robertson walked Nelson Cruz and then struck out Dae-Ho Lee. Kyle Seager, who had missed out on an RBI opportunity against Sale in the seventh, dumped a single into center to score Cano and make it 3-1.
Servais called on Adam Lind to pinch-hit for Chris Iannetta.
“He told me when Cano was hitting that I would bat for Iannetta if he got up,” Lind said. “I’ve got a lot of at-bats against him, so it wasn’t like I was going in never having faced him before. I felt comfortable knowing what kind of pitches he had.”
Lind had 16 previous plate appearances against Robertson with three singles and four walks.
After swinging and missing badly at a curveball to start the at-bat, Lind yanked an elevated cut fastball on the inside half, sending it just over the wall in right-center for his 14th homer of the season and his second walkoff homer of 2016.
“That’s why you play the game,” Lind said.
Cruz, who was standing on second, saw what White Sox catcher Dioner Navarro wanted from the pitch.
“I was watching the signs and I saw Navarro give the sign that he wanted the pitch up,” Cruz said. “I thought, ‘That’s a bad idea. That’s where he likes them.’?”
Off the bat, it was struck well, but it was also going to one of the deeper parts of Safeco Field where potential homers often fizzle and die into opponents’ gloves. But it had just enough distance.
“I knew I hit it well and hit it true with the backspin,” Lind said. “I didn’t know if I had enough, but it carried.”
Sale, the starting pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game and Cy Young front-runner, viciously carved up Mariners hitters in his first start after the break, using his mid-90s fastball and nasty, biting slider to work eight shutout innings to be in line for his 15th win.
Seattle mustered just a first-inning single by Gutierrez against Sale.
The Mariners drew three walks off him and he hit two batters to put six base runners on. But none them of reached third base.
The closest Seattle came to a scoring opportunity against Sale was in the seventh, down 3-0. With two outs and a runner on first, Sale hit Lee in the back of the leg with a slider. Seager stepped to the plate as the tying run. But a perfect inside fastball on a 1-1 count by Sale put Seager on the defensive. Sale put him away with a nasty slider, generating an awkward swing from Seager, who appeared to be anticipating a fastball.
Working with no margin for error, Mariners starter Wade LeBlanc made two major mistakes in an otherwise decent outing. The veteran left-hander pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on nine hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
The two mistakes led to home runs. LeBlanc left a 1-0 fastball over the middle to the second batter of the game — Tim Anderson. The White Sox shortstop crushed it into the upper deck of left field for a homer and a 1-0 lead. LeBlanc worked himself into more trouble that inning, giving up a double to Jose Abreu and a single to Melky Cabrera following the homer. But he was able to retire the next two hitters.
LeBlanc worked scoreless second and third innings, but gave up a leadoff single to Cabrera to start the fourth. It brought up third baseman Todd Frazier, who came into the game with 25 homers, second in the majors. A 1-1 changeup that stayed on the outer half quickly became homer No. 26. Frazier got his arms extended and drove it over the wall in straightaway center for a 3-0 lead.
“I felt just a little out of sync,” LeBlanc said. “It wasn’t a smooth game by any stretch and for me to get through seven, give the bullpen rest and give a team a chance to win in the ninth, you can take positives from it.”
The three runs were the most the White Sox had scored since July 9.
LeBlanc wouldn’t allow another run. Seattle got one shutout inning apiece from Vidal Nuno and David Rollins, who got credit for the win.