Maybe it was the combination of heat or a long four-game series in Baltimore that featured a Sunday night game preceded by a day-night doubleheader.
Regardless of the reason, the Yankees seemed headed for another loss to the White Sox, but after rallying Tuesday, New York can get a series win over Chicago on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
“Just scuffling a little bit,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I’ve talked a lot through these last two, three weeks, it’s not easy for us. We’re kind of grinding through some things, it’s a tough stretch, but these guys continue to find a way.”
New York faced a four-run deficit going into the bottom of the sixth but chipped away when Miguel Andujar hit a two-run homer. Aaron Hicks tied the game in the eighth with a two-run shhot and pinch hitter Neil Walker won it with a first-pitch homer in the ninth.
Walker’s drive sent the Yankees to their ninth win in the last 11 games and helped New York stay 6 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
Although Walker is batting .224, he is (34-for-118) over his last 37 games, with six of his nine homers in his last nine games.
“We’ve seen the professional hitter he is really reveal itself, especially in the second half of the season,” Boone said.
Walker’s hit came on a night when the Yankees continued to press on without Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez. Judge is uncertain when he might return from a fractured right wrist that has sidelined him since July 27 while Sanchez (groin) and Gregorius (heel) appear close to returning.
“It’s getting better every couple of days,” Judge said before Tuesday’s game. “That’s been the great thing. It’s still broken. I’m still waiting for it to heal, but there’s some stuff that we can kind of get through. They told me I can play before it completely heals. I’m just trying to get better every day.”
The White Sox will attempt to rebound from seeing their four-game winning streak stopped and get a chance to win a series in New York for the first time since their championship season in 2005. Despite Dylan Covey allowing Walker’s homer, the White Sox are 10-4 in their last 14 games and 10-3 in their last 13 road games.
“We’ve been playing really good baseball over the last month really,” Chicago right-hander James Shields said. “Putting together some series wins. Obviously as of late we’ve been playing really good baseball.”
The White Sox will likely have shortstop Tim Anderson available. Anderson bruised his left ankle in a collision with left fielder Nicky Delmonico in the eighth inning, but manager Rick Renteria seemed to think he was fine and Anderson is day-to-day.
Anderson had a quiet night, but Delmonico has a hit in 10 of his last 12 games. Adam Engel is batting .410 (16-for-39) in his last 11 games while Yolmer Sanchez is hitting .290 (18-for-62) in his last 16 games.
“I think individually you can see some of the jumps that some of the guys have made and are making, which is a little bit different from last year,” Renteria said Tuesday afternoon. “To be honest, I didn’t really know where we’re at with the record until somebody mentioned it to me because we’re looking at so many other things. But, that being said, I do think there’s some individual pieces of the guys that are certainly improving.”
New York’s CC Sabathia will make his second start since returning from the DL. After missing a little over a week with a knee injury, Sabathia returned and allowed two runs on five hits over six innings during Friday’s 7-5, 10-inning win at Baltimore.
Sabathia (7-4, 3.30 ERA) owns 244 career wins and his next victory with tie him for 51st place on the all-time list.
The left-hander is 19-6 with a 3.73 ERA in 36 career starts against Chicago. His .760 winning percentage against Chicago is Sabathia’s highest against any American League team.
Sabathia struck out 12 in 5 2/3 innings during his last start against the White Sox on Aug. 7 in Chicago. He is 0-2 with a 4.01 ERA in his last three starts against Chicago since Sept. 4, 2013.
Reynaldo Lopez (4-9, 4.66) hopes to end a long winless streak when he starts for the White Sox. Since winning at Texas on July 1, he is 0-4 with a 6.70 ERA in his last nine starts.
During Lopez’s winless skid, opponents are hitting .277 off him and have slugged 12 homers. One of his best starts during this stretch occurred in his first career outing against the Yankees on Aug. 7.
In a no-decision, he allowed one run on four hits in seven innings during a game the Yankees won in the 13th.
The right-hander’s last start was also a no-decision. He allowed two runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings and the White Sox scored six times in the eighth to get a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.