White Sox' Nick Madrigal walks off after Liam Hendriks blows save

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Vinnie Duber
·3 min read
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After Hendriks blows save, Madrigal gives Sox walk-off win originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Nicky Two Strikes. Nicky Ballgame.

The two nicknames — only one of which, to this point, is in wide circulation — are starting to overlap.

Nick Madrigal delivered in the most Nick Madrigal way possible Saturday night, getting a clutch two-strike hit to bring home the game-winning run and ignite a White Sox walk-off victory party on the infield.

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"I didn't feel like the pressure was on me, even when the guy got to two strikes," Madrigal said afterward. "I was feeling good about the whole moment."

It's just the latest base knock Madrigal's come up with in what's rapidly become a famous two-strike approach. He came into Saturday's game hitting .400 with two strikes. After the walk-off double he hit over Joey Gallo's head in right field, he's hitting .409 in that department, with nine hits in 22 at-bats.

There was an awful lot of talk about Madrigal and the 3,000-hit milestone during the offseason. Maybe someone should have been talking about batting .400, even if it's just in one facet of the game.

But the moment seemed tailor made for the high-contact hitter.

Liam Hendriks blew a save chance in the top of the ninth when he gave up his second homer in as many nights. This one erased the White Sox narrow 1-0 lead. But the White Sox strung together the hits they needed in the bottom of the inning. Luis Robert singled to lead things off and moved to second on Yasmani Grandal's bunt. An intentional walk to the on-fire Yermín Mercedes brought up Billy Hamilton, who struck out, but with two outs — and two strikes — Madrigal came through.

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When a base hit wins it, there are worse spots to be in than having the guy who always puts the ball in play at the dish.

"If you get anything to the outfield, (Robert is) going to score," Madrigal said. "I was actually thinking about that in my head. I wasn't trying to do too much. ... I was just trying to hit it through the 4-hole, get it to the outfield.

"It's a huge confidence booster when you've got so much speed on second base, so I didn't try to do anything crazy, just kind of put it in play."

It was an entertaining affair, though one that likely had White Sox fans experiencing some whiplash.

The offense didn't have an RBI until Madrigal took the game's final at-bat, the team's first run coming home on a wild pitch. Hamilton, inserted as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning, preserved that smallest of leads by nabbing a runner at home with an excellent throw from left field, Grandal doing big work on the tag to complete the play. And then Hendriks coughed things up in the ninth.

The $54 million closer has yet to completely be the gas-throwing punch-out machine that the White Sox saw in the playoffs last year. Not that he's not striking guys out, he's doing that. But littering his late-inning appearances with home runs is not a pleasant trend, and he's allowed four of them in 9.1 innings after allowing just six in the 110.1 innings he threw the last two seasons with the Oakland Athletics.

Fortunately for Hendriks and the White Sox, Madrigal played pick-me-up Saturday night.

As lamented as he was early in the season for a glaring error on Opening Day, Madrigal is hitting .295 and reaching base at a .353 clip. Saturday, he played hero. And the White Sox moved to two games north of .500.

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