NEW YORK (AP) — Only three weeks into May, this one was a classic worthy of October.
Gleyber Torres homered late and singled home the winning run in the ninth inning as the New York Yankees — moments after turning a clutch triple play — beat the Chicago White Sox 2-1 Friday night following one of the most dominant displays of starting pitching in major league history.
White Sox lefty Carlos Rodón and counterpart Jordan Montgomery combined for 24 strikeouts during the first game since 1900 in which both starters had at least 10 punchouts while permitting no runs or walks, according to Stats.
“It was a heck of a game," Rodón said. “Two very good teams in the AL, two playoff contenders. And I mean, you got the feel of it tonight with the game that was just played and the atmosphere.”
After arriving at Yankee Stadium with the American League's best record, Chicago put two runners on to open the ninth against closer Aroldis Chapman (3-0) in a tension-filled game that offered a little bit of everything.
Prized rookie Andrew Vaughn hit a sharp grounder toward third, where Gio Urshela stepped on the bag and went around the horn. Second baseman Rougned Odor's throw just nipped Vaughn and suddenly ended the inning as first baseman Luke Voit made a long stretch.
Chapman, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in 18 appearances this year, pumped a fist and smiled wide coming off the mound.
“So exciting,” he said through a translator. “It's one of those plays that you don't see every day.”
Aaron Judge singled leading off the bottom half against Evan Marshall (0-2), who pitched out of a major jam in the eighth by getting a line-drive double play. Judge went to second on Urshela's single and slid safely across the plate after Torres ripped a sharp single through the left side for his fifth career walk-off hit and second in two weeks.
“Just be simple. I think that is my key,” he said.
New York (26-19) has won 15 of 20 and moved a season-high seven games over .500.
Featuring a wipeout slider that tied right-handed hitters in knots as it swept across the plate, Rodón paired that 85-87 mph signature pitch with a pinpoint 97-98 mph fastball to strike out a career-high 13 in six innings of two-hit ball. He was pulled by Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa after 95 pitches.
“Just another outstanding performance, this ballpark against that lineup," La Russa said. "He was very sharp. Unfortunately, Montgomery with a different mix of pitches just kept us off balance all night.”
Rodón, nearly perfect in a no-hitter April 14 against Cleveland, is putting together a sensational breakout season. On this night, he became the first pitcher to strike out the first five Yankees batters in a road game since Dodgers great Sandy Koufax in the 1963 World Series opener, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Montgomery wasn't quite as overpowering — but just as effective. He struck out a career-best 11 and scattered four hits over seven innings, throwing 68 of 90 pitches for strikes.
“He's getting better and better,” Torres said.
Both left-handers bailed out teammates after big defensive blunders, too. Each one was coming off a rough outing — Rodón a loss to Kansas City that marked his first of the season following five straight wins.
“Just happy I picked up my teammates,” Montgomery said.
Torres homered off Michael Kopech to the short right-field porch in the seventh, a drive projected at 345 feet that would not have left any other ballpark in the majors, according to Statcast.
Chicago tied it on Nick Madrigal's check-swing RBI single in the eighth off Jonathan Loaisiga, a flare into shallow right field that ended New York's shutout streak at a season-high 29 innings.
Yoán Moncada then sent what appeared to be a base hit into right, but a savvy Judge deked Madrigal into thinking he might catch the soft line drive on a fly. Madrigal held up, Judge grabbed the ball on a hop and threw out Madrigal at second base for a fielder's choice.
“Just a tough break for us,” La Russa said. “Nice play by Judge."
It was New York's first triple play since turning one behind CC Sabathia in April 2014 at Tampa Bay.
OUT AT HOME
White Sox infielders cut down a pair of runners at the plate. New York has had 20 runners thrown out on the bases this season, including 10 at home — both big league highs.
“We did a lot of good things but so did they,” La Russa said.
The crowd of 14,011 was a season high at Yankee Stadium, which offered fully vaccinated sections for the first time after pandemic restrictions were eased.
“We feel the difference,” Torres said.
Across the street from Babe Ruth Plaza before the game, a vendor hocked “No-York” T-shirts commemorating Corey Kluber's no-hitter Wednesday at Texas. Soon after the first pitch, the Bleachers Creatures included Kluber in their roll call.
White Sox: 1B José Abreu, last year's AL MVP, returned to the lineup after missing three consecutive games in Minnesota with left ankle inflammation.
Yankees: CF Aaron Hicks will have surgery for a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist that will sideline him for months and possibly the rest of the season. ... OF Clint Frazier (neck) sat out his fourth straight game. He told the staff he was ready to play, but first he was scheduled to meet with team physicians before the game, manager Aaron Boone said. ... Boone said he thought LHP Zack Britton was slated to play catch Friday and then possibly throw a bullpen Sunday. If that goes well, he would probably begin a delayed rehab assignment after that. Britton felt soreness after throwing last Saturday. He's on the 60-day injured list after surgery March 15 to remove a bone chip from his pitching elbow. ... Pitching coach Matt Blake and first base coach Reggie Willits returned to the team. They had been away after testing positive for COVID-19.
New York ace Gerrit Cole (5-2, 2.03 ERA) starts Saturday afternoon in the middle game of the series against Dylan Cease (2-0, 2.41), who makes his first career appearance versus the Yankees.
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