CHICAGO -- Waiver claims coming up big. A pinch-runner stealing a key base. An error starting a game-winning rally. The Chicago White Sox are using every roster spot and taking advantage of mistakes by opponents to win ball games.
The White Sox claimed Hector Noesi off waivers in late April. He delivered his best performance in a Sox uniform on Wednesday night. Noesi allowed just one run in 7 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking none during Chicago’s 3-2 victory against the Cleveland Indians.
Manager Robin Ventura has been impressed with his development over the past month.
“When he first got here, he was in the bullpen,” Ventura said. “He's really transitioned well from going as the long guy in the bullpen to being a starter. I think he's gotten a better feel for some different pitches just because now he's going through the lineup a couple times.
“And he's able to get a feel for it instead of being in there for an inning or an inning and a half. He's progressed fairly well as far as the strength and endurance of being a starter.”
Noesi was getting little run support from his offense early, but a pair of run-scoring sacrifice flies in the seventh and eighth gave the White Sox a short-lived lead. It was in the ninth that Moises Sierra, another waiver wire acquisition, came through.
“I think it was in the sixth inning I told [Sierra], ‘You gotta do something for me,’” Noesi said. “He did it in the last inning.”
Sierra came up in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied at 2-2 and a man on third and lined a single into right field to give the White Sox the walk-off victory.
How the winning run got to third was another example of the White Sox taking advantage of mistakes and doing the little things to win games.
Tyler Flowers led off the ninth with a grounder to Indians third baseman Mike Aviles, who one-hopped his throw to first. The ball ricocheted off Lonnie Chisenhall’s glove, allowing Flowers to reach. He was immediately replaced with a pinch runner in utility man Leury Garcia. Garcia then stole second and advanced to third on Marcus Semien’s long fly out to right field. Garcia would go on to score the winning run on Sierra’s single.
“To win games, you like to talk about different people every night because it takes the whole roster to be able to do it,” Ventura said. “With the injuries and things that happened to us early, waiver claims are doing that. We went out and you start getting guys and bringing them in; these guys have been a good fit so far.”
The White Sox have battled an assortment of injuries early on in the year, but they’re slowly getting closer to full strength. Still, they’ve managed to have different players step up on different days.
With their biggest bat, Jose Abreu, set to return from the disabled list on Monday, things are looking up.
Indeed, Monday is shaping up to be a big day for the Sox.
They’ll be coming off a series against the league’s worst offense, the San Diego Padres. If they can take care of business over the weekend, they’ll start next week with a healthy Abreu rejoining the team in Los Angeles and ace Chris Sale on the mound in a marquee matchup against the reigning NL Cy Young award winner, Clayton Kershaw.
However, a roster that’s finally healthy and getting contributions from unexpected sources is at least trying to make the season interesting.