CHICAGO -- Indians manager Terry Francona called Friday one of the most rewarding days he's ever spent at a ballpark. That'll happen when you win both games of the longest doubleheader in Major League history.
After a short break and a 25-minute rain delay between the Indians' 19-10 win in the first game of Friday's doubleheader at U.S. Cellular Field, Cleveland outfielder Nick Swisher capped a ninth-inning 9-8 comeback win with his towering home run to right field off White Sox closer Addison Reed. The two nine-inning games were completed in a record-breaking seven hours and 53 minutes .
Cleveland never gave in despite a number of available excuses. The team arrived in Chicago around 3 a.m. CT after a 78-minute rain delay in Baltimore. The players hardly had the chance to eat anything between games. Both of Cleveland's starting pitchers on Friday would be on a plane back to Triple-A Columbus following their starts. Still, the team stuck together long enough for Swisher to drop the barrel of his bat on a Reed fastball.
"3-2 against a closer, bro, I'm just trying to get on base," Swisher said. "But when you have a closer throwing that hard, all you've got to do is put a barrel on it. He'll provide a lot of that power."
It appeared the White Sox had the game firmly in grasp heading into the top of the ninth, but then Cleveland reminded everyone just what kind of day it had been. Chicago extended its lead to 8-5 in the bottom of the eighth and sent Reed to the mound to save the game. But the Indians, who fought back from an early five-run deficit in the first game of the doubleheader, handed Reed his third blown save in his last six outings and his fourth in 25 chances with a four-run ninth inning.
"We knew that we had the potential to score runs late," said Northbrook, Ill., native Jason Kipnis, who finished the doubleheader 4-for-7 with four RBIs, four runs and four walks. "Give credit where credit is due. These guys who got us back into it, because Reed is a good closer. He doesn't do that too many times."
The Indians started the ninth inning with three straight singles from Ryan Raburn, Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Bourn. Raburn scored on Bourn's RBI single, and then Reed helped the Indians' cause by throwing a wild pitch that scored Cabrera from third and sent Bourn to second. With one out -- on Jason Giambi's flyout to center that moved Bourn to third -- and first base open, Reed opted to pitch to Kipnis, and the second baseman knocked in the tying run on a sacrifice fly.
Then Swisher deposited the ball into the right-field bleachers on a towering drive that sent groans throughout U.S. Cellular.
"[White Sox catcher] Hector [Gimenez] called all the right pitches," Reed said. "I just didn't execute them. Ball was over the plate and up in the zone and they made me pay for it."
In mild contrast to the bullpen-heavy, four-hour first game, the second game's starters settled down for part of the evening. Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco allowed a first-inning sacrifice fly, but then he set down 10 straight batters from the second to fifth innings.
But Carrasco couldn't give the Indians the length they needed, lasting just 5 2/3 innings after Game 1 starter Trevor Bauer only managed to record two outs in the first inning. The move put pressure on the bullpen, and Carrasco left the game with runners on second and third and a 5-4 lead.
Indians reliever Rich Hill didn't pitch in the first game, but he allowed a two-run single to Adam Dunn to complete Chicago's sixth-inning comeback and give the White Sox the lead for the first time in 14 innings.
Until then, the Indians seemed to be in control, but Carrasco couldn't hang on and finished his night with six earned runs.
"He went out there knowing he had to pitch. They made him work. He didn't always locate, but he never gave in," Francona said. "Then Richy comes in and gives up an 0-2 [hit], so two of those runs, the line is not going to look as good as I think [Carrasco] pitched."
Cleveland led off the game with back-to-back-to-back singles by Bourn, Mike Aviles and Kipnis, who went 3-for-4 with three doubles and three walks in Game 1 and started Game 2 by knocking in the first run. With the bases loaded, White Sox starter Jose Quintana walked Carlos Santana for the second run just before catcher Tyler Flowers had a passed ball get by him that allowed Aviles from third. Cleveland left fielder Michael Brantley eventually plated Swisher with a sacrifice fly to left field, and just like that, the Indians jumped out to an early 4-0 lead.
Quintana finished his night after giving up five runs (four earned) over six innings.
The White Sox scored a run on an RBI single by first baseman Jeff Keppinger in the fifth, but the Indians quickly stretched the lead back to three runs on Mark Reynolds' solo home run to left in the top of the sixth.
After the White Sox took the lead, the Tribe almost tied the game in the eighth on a deep drive by Brantley but it was inches foul of the right-field foul pole. No matter, the Indians got the heroics they needed in the ninth inning, and the postgame celebration could be heard loud and clear outside the visitors' clubhouse in Chicago.
Swisher was the hero a night after missing Thursday's game with shoulder soreness. He entered play on Friday hitting .229 and had produced just seven home runs and 25 RBIs since coming over from New York during the offseason. Francona said he could sense his outfielder was getting frustrated, but he said the home run swing was as sweet as it gets.
"He feels good about himself," Francona said. "That was a really good swing. Boy, there'd be nothing better than to see him get hot."
Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.