Yankees closer David Robertson, historically, is incredibly tough on left-handed hitters. His cutter/curveball combination helped him allow just six home runs and a .198 batting average in 697 plate appearances against lefties before the ninth inning of Friday's game against the White Sox.
But that past success was irrelevant when Adam Dunn laid into an 0-2 cutter right down the middle, smashing it 431 feet for a walk-off home run that netted the White Sox a 6-5 win over New York in front of 27,091 at U.S. Cellular Field.
"That’s the best feeling in probably all of sports, especially after a night like tonight," Dunn said after Friday night's three hour, 52 minute slog.
For the third time this season, the White Sox won despite trailing after eight innings. In 2013's forgettable 99-loss wreck, the White Sox only did that twice.
"It's different," manager Robin Ventura said. "It's a whole lot different, they feel different as far as swinging the bat and feeling like they can score runs late. When you have that feeling you never feel like you're out of a game."
It was right around this time a year ago, though, that the White Sox were a .500 club. On May 26, 2013, the White Sox finished off a sweep of Miami in which they walked off twice to move to 24-24.
After that, the Sox lost eight straight games and didn't stop sinking to finish with the fourth-most losses in the franchise's 114-year history.
But as Ventura said, things are different this year. The White Sox are 25-25 but have consistently battled at the plate, playing competitive baseball despite injuries to Avisail Garcia, Conor Gillaspie, Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu. A bullpen that got off to a brutal start to the season hasn't been saddled with a loss since April 29. Hector Noesi turned in a talismanic quality start despite walking five and allowing a three-run homer to Brian McCann in the first inning.
Dunn, who was booed on Opening Day, has a .399 on-base percentage, and while he's only homering once every 21 plate appearances (down from about once every 18 plate appearances in his career), he's been a valuable piece in the White Sox lineup.
Perhaps part of that value is because he's no longer looked at as a focal point of the offense, someone who's asked to carry the load. Thanks to resurgences from Gordon Beckham, Dayan Viciedo (who singled to set up Dunn's walk-off), Alexei Ramirez (who went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer) and Tyler Flowers, along with solid-to-great production from Eaton, Gillaspie and Abreu, the White Sox have threats up and down their lineup.
That lineup depth has helped offset the injuries and short-lived struggles that come with any season. Plenty of guys have played hero. On Friday, the hero was Dunn.
"It seems like each and every night it’s somebody different," Dunn said. "We’ve got a kind of a lineup — everyone talks about our injuries, but we’ve got some pretty good players still here."