MINNEAPOLIS -- There was a brief moment in the ninth inning of Saturday's 6-5, 10-inning White Sox victory at Target Field where Robin Ventura had a flashback to Friday's tough setback.
Bases loaded, two outs in a tie game, and rookie Michael Ynoa on the mound against Brian Dozier. Ventura flashed to Friday's series opener -- young hurler Tommy Kahnle facing Joe Mauer with the bases loaded, eventually walking home the winning run.
Despite falling behind at 2-1 to Dozier, and almost hitting him with that third pitch, Ynoa induced an easy popup to third baseman Tyler Saladino sending the game into extra innings. Ynoa's escape, which included throwing eight of his 24 pitches for strikes but not allowing a run, eventually translated into his first big league win.
"Yes," said a smiling Ynoa. "Thank God."
"It gets a little dicey when you have the bases loaded," Ventura said. "He came through. That's a real positive for him."
While it was Ynoa who got the lineup card and baseball, as well as congratulations from starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, it was batterymate Dioner Navarro who delivered the game-winning hit. Navarro's double to left with one out in the 10th scored Avisail Garcia, who had doubled off Fernando Abad to start the frame.
Navarro had hits in each of his last three trips to the plate, breaking out of a 7-for-56 funk over his last 19 games. Due to Alex Avila's hamstring injury and ensuing setback during a rehab assignment along with Omar Narvaez's inexperience, Navarro has played 23 games in July. His reward for Saturday's effort is to get the day off on Sunday.
When asked what he would be doing Sunday, Navarro replied, "Sleep, a lot."
"Yeah, I mean it's been kind of a frustrating year offensively," Navarro said. "Not frustrating, just I have to keep swinging. I've been there before, and I'm going to just keep swinging, and hopefully things change for the better."
"Second half of that game, he was big," Ventura said. "Dio has had a long run, too, of games in a row. It's nice to see him get after it. He knew he wasn't going to be in there tomorrow, so I don't know if that's motivation or not. He earned it."
Gonzalez pitched well enough to win, but Eduardo Escobar's three-run homer in the eighth off reliever Matt Albers not only erased that effort, but put the White Sox in position for a fourth straight loss. Melky Cabrera's single tied the game with two outs in the ninth, and with Ventura staying away from Nate Jones and Zach Duke, it was up to Ynoa, who hadn't pitched since July 27.
Ynoa walked the tightrope in the ninth, but emerged unscathed, avoiding a second straight walkoff walk.
"After I walked [Max] Kepler [to load the bases] I was trying to be aggressive," said Ynoa through interpreter Billy Russo. "I was trying to be aggressive because I didn't want to fall behind and give him a good pitch to hit. It was a good at-bat but I battled and got the job done."