Everything was working for Manny Bañuelos in Monday’s 5-3 Chicago White Sox win over the Baltimore Orioles. He was much better than his first start, though he did allow more runs tonight. After his week break from pitching, Bañuelos worked the strike zone with a 62% strike thrown rate.
The pitches that worked the best for Bañuelos tonight were his breaking balls. The slider, which he uses more than any other pitch, tallied four swings-and-misses. The curve, which was only had a usage rate of 9.8% before the start, induced five swings-and-misses, comprising 35.7% of the curves he threw. What was more amazing about both pitches was Bañuelos’ ability to pound the zone with them. A full 69.2% of the sliders thrown were for strikes, and 71.4% of curves resulted in a strike. In all, it was really good breaking stuff from Bañuelos tonight. Here are the six strikeouts:
But Bañuelos did need some help from the offense.
First up, Yonder Alonso:
That ball was crushed on a line to right field. Oddly enough, that was Alonso’s third home run against a lefty this season, one more than against righties despite facing right-handed pitchers substantially more often. Though Alonso has disappointed so far, his BB-rate is back up to near his 2017 breakout level (15.6%), and his K-rate has fallen about 7%. In fact, Alonso walks more than he strikes out — he has just a .175 BABIP, so the hits will come. Alonso has an xWOBA at .375, far above the .318 MLB average, and his average exit velocity is at a career high (since the stat was recorded). But for tonight’s game, Alonso broke the scoreless tie with a two-run dinger.
But that was not the last home for the Sox: Enter, Tim Anderson.
A much different looking home run between Alonso and Anderson, especially in terms of launch angle, but both were crushed.
After the Orioles had got a run back with Pedro Severino’s fourth home run of the year, Anderson blasted that home run to extend the Sox lead to three. Everybody knows how good Anderson has been so far this year, so let’s enjoy it, as he has been one of the best shortstops so far this year at the plate. Anderson had the highest shortstop wRC+ entering tonight’s game (172) and the seventh-best fWAR. Meanwhile, he is kicking ass with his legs as well, with the most stolen bases in MLB coming into the game (10). He is sure to fall to Earth at some point (maybe?) with the .448 BABIP (which also leads MLB), but it sure has been fun.
The Orioles added another run in the sixth, this time by Chris Davis on an RBI single, though, he decided to try for second for an unknown reason as you can see below, maybe he should have run out of the box.
After Jose Ruiz came in for a cameo appearance where he allowed a base hit, Aaron Bummer saw his first MLB action this season. The lefty did well in 7 2⁄3 innings pitched in AAA; though his strikeouts are down compared to last year, so are his walks. Bummer went one inning, with a walk and a strikeout, and gave the game over to Kelvin Herrera.
With Herrera in the game, the White Sox tried to rally to extend the lead, loading the bases twice in the seventh. However, only one run came of it, off of a Trayce Thomp... I mean, Ryan Cordell, walk.
The next inning, Herrera got into some trouble of his own. He was really going into the strike zone, and his changeup was masterful (averaging about 88 mph), earning three swings-and-misses. However, batters were able to get a couple hits off of the fastball, including Davis, who hit went to left field (away from the shift) with an RBI single. In what was a strange sort of TV antic, Rick Renteria went to take out Herrera for the final out of the eighth, but Herrera talked Renteria into letting him stay in the game. It worked, as Herrera got the third out.
Alex Colome came in the ninth to close out the win, and did it with ease. He punched out the first two batters and got the third to ground out to Anderson. Colome is now 6-for-6 in save chances, with a 2.13 ERA.
In total, the Sox saw 13 runners on base but were only able to score five runs in the game. Those 13 runners included three via James McCann, with three hits today, two of them doubles. McCann is now hitting .357, second to only Anderson on the team.
The pitching was not as overwhelming as yesterday’s 20-strikeout performance, but 10 Ks is not too shabby. White Sox pitching also allowed 13 runners on base, but had two timely double plays to limit the damage done en route to their third straight win.