OAKLAND, Calif. — Miguel Cairo enjoys the ride.
And what a ride Friday’s improbable 5-3 win over Athletics was for the White Sox, who won for the eighth time in 11 games since Sox bench coach Cairo took over as the White Sox. as interim manager.
Down 3-0 and hitless for six innings, the Sox (71-68) scored five runs in the ninth, including four after two outs, to stay within 1 1⁄2 Cleveland Guardians games in AL Central.
Eloy Jimenez homered for the third time in three games against left-hander AJ Puk to throw it before the Sox scored four runs after two outs. Andrew Vaughn picked home pinch runner Leury Garcia, Romy Gonzalez (after getting out three times) hit home pinch runner Adam Engel with the tying run (Engel sneaking his hand on the plate with a slide in melted) and former Athletic Elvis Andrus delivered the decisive blow, a two-run double in the left-field corner scoring two runs.
“We were like sleeping for a bit and we just got a wake-up call,” said Cairo, who pressed all the right buttons in the ninth inning by hitting Yasmani Grandal (walking) and using two pinched runners. Cairo took over when Tony La Russa left the team for medical reasons.
“They don’t give up. That’s the phrase Tony uses, never give up. And [play for] 27 out],” Cairo said.
“It was a good victory. We have to come back tomorrow with the same intensity, the same fire.
The Sox have won eight of their last 10 games. Cairo said the streak was a team effort on the pitch and with the coaching staff with former manager Jerry Narron and coaches Shelley Duncan, Joe McEwing and Ethan Katz all coming together.
“They all help with the movements, with everything,” Cairo said. “Everyone contributes.
The Sox were a disappointment the first five months of the season, but are now playing as expected.
“An incredible win,” said Lucas Giolito, who threw six three-run innings. “To put five runs in the ninth inning like that. It was great fun to watch. Maybe there was a little hangover from last night [scoring 14 runs on 21 hits] early in the game.
“Keep the good vibes going. There’s a lot of brawling on this team. Amazing clutch shots by all the guys. That’s something we can do when we play loose and free.
The Sox beat the Mariners to a series win on Wednesday after their first seven batters were retired. They were down 4-0 in that one.
“It shows how resilient this team is,” Andrus said. “The Eloy circuit woke us up. This victory shows how much heart and passion this team has.
“Those are the games at the start of the year that we wouldn’t win,” Hendriks said. “The attitude here is a bit more glaring, which is one of the things we thrive on.”
Liam Hendriks, who pitched the ninth for his 32nd save against his former side, said Cairo “did things differently here, but it’s fantastic”.
“When it comes to winning percentages, he’s the winningest manager in White Sox history, isn’t he?” Hendricks said. “We have had Miguel for a few years. It was fantastic to watch him. We want Tony to get better and healthy and make sure we’re firing on all cylinders, but Miggy has played that role admirably.