"Nobody gave up. Everyone kept going and going and going. It was nice to come out on top, that's for sure."
Thornton stood out as one of five major reasons as to why the White Sox (49-59) held on to avoid the three-game sweep during the series finale. Starter Jon Garland was staked to an eight-run lead following his team's uprising in the top of the second off Roger Clemens, but the usually steady right-hander couldn't even last through the second out in the bottom half of the frame.
This mammoth cushion was not enough for Garland, who threw 44 pitches in the second inning alone, and allowed eight earned runs on nine hits over his shortest outing since lasting just 1 1/3 innings against Texas on May 12, 2001. But all the five hurlers trotting in from the White Sox bullpen needed was two more runs to give them victory protection, as Bobby Abreu's 10th home run in the sixth inning marked the only production for the Yankees (58-50) over the final seven frames.
Boone Logan (2-0), Ryan Bukvich, Thornton, Mike MacDougal and closer Bobby Jenks yielded six hits and two walks, bailing out Garland and giving the suddenly rejuvenated offense a chance to work. MacDougal, activated before Thursday's game, was the most impressive, striking out three in two innings and throwing his fastball consistently at 96 mph.
"Unbelievable job today," said Garland of the bullpen, after characterizing the Yankees as a "hot team right now," and claiming "they hit some good pitches" during his disastrous second.
"To pick up that many innings after a night like last night, they sucked it up and did a [heck] of a job," he said.
"We did what we could to keep us in the game," Thornton added. "The Yankees came back with a fury on Gar, and he's not going to have many bad games like that. We had to pick him up and pick up our hitters. They put up eight runs for us."
Almost all of Thursday's scoring took place during a second inning beginning at 12:23 p.m. CT and ending an hour later, covering 90 pitches. The 16 runs in total marked the most combined output posted in the second inning in Major League history, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The overall record for an inning stands at 19 runs by both teams.
Thursday's battle also represented the second time in baseball history that each team scored at least eight runs in the same inning. On May 8, 2004, Detroit scored eight in the top of the fifth and Texas answered with 10 in a game won by the Rangers, 16-15.
Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Jermaine Dye had two hits apiece during the second inning alone, while Wilson Betemit launched his first home run as part of the Yankees' comeback. Jorge Posada drove in two runs to tie the game with a bloop double to right.
Both offenses appeared to tire out in the 94-degree heat, but clutch two-out hitting from the White Sox made the ultimate difference. Dye knocked out his 20th home run off of Jeff Karstens (0-2) with Scott Podsednik on base in the fourth, breaking the 8-8 logjam, and Podsednik's two-out RBI single in the fifth raised the White Sox lead to 11-8.
Dye matched his career high with four hits. With two doubles and a second home run coming on the heels of Paul Konerko's blast (No. 23) against Kyle Farnsworth in the eighth, the White Sox right fielder became the first franchise player with four extra-base hits in a single game since Robin Ventura on July 19, 1991.
Since the All-Star break, Dye has nine home runs and 17 RBIs, giving him 21 and 56, respectively, after a very slow start.
"I'm getting into a groove," Dye said. "I'm going up there relaxed and putting everything behind me. I'm just trying to get in the mindset of the last couple of years and get back focused."
Podsednik emerged as one five White Sox with at least two hits, and he didn't even enter until the fourth as a pinch-hitter for designated hitter Jim Thome. Thome left with back spasms, and he will have Friday off against hard-throwing Detroit southpaw Andrew Miller. Alex Cintron also exited with an upset stomach, but he is listed as day-to-day, as is outfielder Darin Erstad, who was removed in the sixth.
Erstad's injury looked to be serious when he grabbed his left hamstring after connecting on a fly ball to center. But the problem was diagnosed as cramps in both legs, and manager Ozzie Guillen expected him in Friday night's lineup.
Even with the bullpen's yeoman work, Thornton felt just about everyone would be available against Detroit. Having a quick-working, consistent hurler such as Mark Buehrle starting Friday should bring the game in at less than three hours, 59 minutes.
Then again, the players probably felt the same way with Clemens and Garland on the mound for what turned out to be Thursday's marathon.
"I told someone, 'I have a bad feeling about this game,' just the way they have been swinging the bats and attacking the ball on offense," Thornton said. "You know it wasn't over yet after we scored eight. There was a lot of work to go."
"When you have a game like this, you want to come out on top," Dye added. "And we did."