NEW YORK -- The finish from a 2-1 White Sox victory over the Mets in 13 innings Wednesday at Citi Field had to be seen to truly be believed. Even Matt Albers, who played an integral role in every angle of the deciding 13th-inning sequence, didn't seem to be fully convinced of what happened as he explained it to a group of media members standing around his locker.
"Reliever hits a double and then scores and then pitches two innings," Albers said. "That's not going to happen every day. It's a good way to get a win."
Good way? Absolutely, especially for a White Sox team ending a stretch of six straight series defeats.
Shocking, startling way? That's a little more like it. In fact, before Albers, the last American League reliever to score a game-winning run was the Orioles' Danys Baez in 2009, according to Elias.
Down to just one position player in catcher Dioner Navarro, manager Robin Ventura sent Albers to hit leading off the 13th against Mets reliever Logan Verrett. Albers took a couple of pitches without moving his bat from his shoulders, but then laced pitch No. 6, a 91-mph fastball, into left-center for a double and the first extra-base hit of his career.
Albers went in standing at second base, almost running over Neil Walker. But he really had no other choice.
"I was like, 'Sorry, man, I don't know how to slide,'" said a smiling Albers. "It was just a mess, but I made it."
"You watch guys take a pitch. It was pretty decent," said third baseman Todd Frazier, who tied the game with a home run off of Jacob deGrom leading off the seventh. "You have a little thought in your mind that, 'We have a little chance here.' Some of the pitchers say he does take some good batting practice, but going the other way with a fastball away …"
After moving up to third base on a Verrett wild pitch, Albers raced home on Jose Abreu's sacrifice fly to center. It was Abreu's first RBI since May 17, covering 13 games.
But there still was the matter of Albers needing a second scoreless inning after all the excitement to close out the White Sox second straight victory after seven straight losses. He walked Rene Rivera with two out, but escaped unscathed.
"A hit means nothing if I don't go out and get those next three outs," Albers said. "After I caught my breath, I went back out there and finished it."
"He didn't even hesitate. He wanted an elbow guard, and he was ready to go," said Ventura of Albers' offense. "We see these guys hit every once in a while, and I wasn't afraid to let him go up there and hit."
New York hitters drew 13 walks, but the White Sox became the sixth team since 1913 to issue 12-plus walks, allow one or few runs and win a game, according to STATS. And it was a burly right-handed pitcher delivering as a left-handed hitter who gave the dugout an almost Little League-like frenzy, per Ventura, in that final frame.
"A lot of guys were laughing, saying how funny that was. They couldn't believe I did that. That's fine," Albers said. "You battle it out that long, you want to win those extra-inning games."