White Sox relish walk-off as season nears end

Victory over Tigers provides spark of excitement, ensures fourth-place finish in division

White Sox relish walk-off as season nears end

CHICAGO -- The on-field celebration following a 4-3 White Sox victory over Detroit on Saturday night at chilly U.S. Cellular Field was more befitting of a playoff party than game No. 161 for two teams out of contention.

It just goes to show that a walk-off win, as the White Sox executed by rallying for two runs off of Neftali Feliz, has a high impact any time. The Saturday honors went to Leury Garcia, who pinch-ran for Melky Cabrera in the eighth and came to the plate with two on and two out after Jose Abreu was intentionally walked.

Garcia connected on a ground ball between shortstop and third base, giving him greater momentary notoriety than his previous status as one of the three White Sox position players to take the mound this season.

Infielder Garcia pitches in 8th

"He's a clubhouse favorite now with this weather and everything else," said a smiling White Sox manager Robin Ventura after his team's 12th walk-off win of the season. "Guys are just happy for him. It's a big hit. To come up in a big spot like that and be able to do it is fun. Any walk-off's fun."

"It was fun ninth inning," Garcia said. "I was on deck, and as soon as I saw them walk Abreu, I said, 'OK, I got it.' I put the ball in play and see what happens."

What happened is the White Sox made sure they would not finish at the bottom of the American League Central. That place officially goes to the Tigers and their 73-87 mark, in comparison to the White Sox at 76-85, with only Sunday's finale remaining.

Saturday's victory kept the White Sox at 11th in the 2016 MLB Draft order, with only the top 10 picks protected from compensation when one of those teams signs a free agent who received a qualifying offer from his previous team.

For a group that has underachieved during much of this season such as the South Siders, any sort of excitement -- even in the season's second-to-last contest -- becomes a most wanted occurrence.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.