Moncada, Sheets come up big, Sox win Cease/Verlander duel
It's not how you start a game, it's how you finish.
The White Sox rolled with that cliché Monday against the Astros and it worked out so well, they washed, rinsed and repeated it again Tuesday night.
In a dream pitching matchup pitting the Sox's Dylan Cease against Justin Verlander at Guaranteed Rate Field, Yoan Moncada emerged as the hero for the second straight game.
Gavin Sheets also played a big part in the White Sox's 4-3 win over Houston.
Before embarking on a record-setting run in late May, Cease had plenty of starts like the one he turned in against the Astros Tuesday. Good, but not great.
"I was disappointed," Cease said after going just 5 innings and giving up 3 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks while throwing 93 pitches. "It wasn't my sharpest outing but it was close enough to keep us in it and then everyone else picked me up."
Moncada's 2-run single with two outs in the eighth inning Monday lifted the Sox to a 4-2 win over Houston.
On Tuesday, Moncada's bloop RBI single to center field with two outs in the eighth pushed the White Sox to a 4-3 win over the Astros.
That's some decent déjà vu.
"To be able to come through in that situation is special," Moncada said through a translator. "Both times, especially when the game's on the line and your being able to produce, it definitely makes you feel good."
Sheets was feeling great after his pinch-hit 2-run double off Verlander in the seventh inning pulled the Sox into a 3-3 tie.
"It was exciting," Sheets said. "Obviously, just a big moment for the team right there. Pick up everybody, get the tie game. The energy in the stadium was awesome tonight so that was a fun moment."
The crowd of 23,476 was focused on Cease and Verlander early, but that changed with another big rally that lifted the White Sox to their fifth straight win.
The Sox (61-56) are also tied with the Twins for second place in the AL Central, 1 game behind the Guardians.
"Winning has been fun," Sheets said. "It's been a lot of fun. There's an energy in here. We know what's at stake. We know it's coming down to that time where we've got to win. And we've got to win every day and we've got to get to the playoffs.
"That's our No. 1 goal and it's been a lot of fun. We are taking this momentum and we going to ride with it."
For only the third time since the MLB's divisional era began in 1969, two starting pitchers with sub-2.00 ERAs opposed each other in a game.
Cease came in at 1.96 ERA with a 12-5 record and Verlander checked in at 1.85 and 15-3.
The other sub-2.00 ERA matchups were the Red Sox's Chris Sale (1.96) vs. the Mets' Jacob deGrom in 2018 and the Mets' Dwight Gooden (1.74) vs. the Cardinals' John Tudor (1.95) in 1985.
While Cease has his record streak of 14 starts allowing 1 earned run or less snapped, Verlander pitched 7 innings and allowed 3 runs on 8 hits and 1 walk while throwing 103 pitches.