Maybe it was the fact that he was nearing the anniversary of his call-up to the majors last August 2017, but since August 2, Reynaldo López has been the ace of the Chicago White Sox.
In seven of nine games, his game scores have been off the charts, averaging a 70. Consider that game score can brusquely correlate to winning percentage, and that means in just about all of his starts in the last two months, López has given the White Sox a 70% chance of winning.
Saturday was no different. With his typical lack of run support, López dug deep and spun seven sparkling, scoreless innings, pushing the White Sox to a 2-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Overall, López had his second-best start of the season, notching a 78 game score and allowing just one free pass and four singles against six Ks.
His only trouble came as his pitch count crossed into triple digits in the seventh, when Trey Mancini lujoned a sharp single to right and Chris Davis walked with one out, creating López’s only jam of the night. A classic, 10-pitch duel with Tim Beckham ended with López inducing the whiff on a wicked, 82.7 mph slider.
With two down, López started off Renato Nunez with a slider, then pounded him with heat for three pitches, the last of which came in high and tight and induced a weak pop out to José Abreu.
But the story would not end with López’s wide smile celebrating a win without at least one run of support.
And in the sixth, on back-to-back doubles from the YoYo up top, Yoán Moncada and Yolmer Sánchez, López received all he’d need to get that win.
It wasn’t on López’s tab, but Avisaíl García did add an insurance run in the top of the ninth, with a towering homer to left field that I swear landed in exactly the same spot as Ryan Cordell’s whopper on Friday:
Caleb Frare (hold) and Juan Minaya (save, his first of the season, extending the club-record to 10 different pitchers earning saves for the White Sox) came on to preserve the shutout and hold off the O’s. Minaya enjoyed a particularly robust pep talk after walking Beckham to put runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth:
The victory ensures the White Sox a season series win vs. Baltimore for the first time since 2008. Chicago aims to hang loss number 107 on the Orioles with a sweep tomorrow, as another ascending starter, Lucas Giolito, takes the bump against David Hess.