Unlikely might not be the word for a 9-4 trouncing of the Houston Astros by our White Sox. But with help from a combination of plays rarely seen in a single game — a grand slam and a triple play — Chicago secured the win.
Both starting pitchers got off to a strong start, as they retired the side quickly in the first inning. However, the scoreless tie ended as early as the top of the second.
In his first plate appearance against All-Star Gerrit Cole, Eloy Jiménez launched a slider 419 feet. You read that right; it was a slider, which pitchers have been throwing Jiménez a ton (37% of pitches to him) early on in his career. And until the bomb off of Cole, pitchers have been smart to throw so many sliders to Jiménez; entering play today, the slugger had a paltry .221 wOBA against that pitch. Not to mention, Cole had only allowed a .184 wOBA on that pitch before today. But, he caught too much of the plate with this one, and Eloy took full advantage to put the White Sox on the board.
In the bottom of the third, after a double and a hit by pitch to start the inning, Iván Nova induced an inning-ending 5-4-3 triple play to retain the early lead. Enjoy.
In the fourth, José Abreu doubled the White Sox lead with a solo home run of his own. The exit velocity was 111 mph, and the launch angle was 20 degrees. Just a rocket out to center field.
However, the lead extended by Abreu’s blast was short-lived, as the Astros put a big, crooked number up on the board in the bottom half to take a 3-2 lead. Houston’s rally started with a solo home run by Alex Bregman. A couple of batters later, Carlos Correa drove in Michael Brantley with a double to tie it. Though Charlie Tilson was not charged with an error, Brantley most likely would not have scored had Tilson fielded the double cleanly. On the throw home, Correa advanced to third, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Aledmys Díaz to put the Astros in the lead.
After a fairly drama-free fifth inning, Leury García led off the sixth with a single and advanced to second on an error by Brantley. Moncada followed with an RBI single to right, as he overcame a generous called strike two.
The boys did not stop there. Abreu followed with a single to put runners at the corners, still nobody out. Then, James McCann smacked an RBI double into the gap to put the Sox ahead and chase Cole from the game. Astros reliever Josh James walked Yonder Alonso to load the bases, but then got Jiménez go ground into a 5-2 force out. James then struck out Tim Anderson on three pitches, and it appeared the Astros would escape the jam only down by one. However, Tilson had other ideas.
Tilson’s grand slam gave the Sox a commanding 8-3 lead. Those eight runs were more than enough for White Sox pitchers, who also received help from four double plays turned by the defense (in addition to the triple play). Iván Nova’s line: seven-plus innings, three runs (all earned), 10 hits, one walk, three strikeouts.
Even though the pitchers did not need it, Eloy hit another home run in the eighth. He hit this one even harder than his first of the night, leaving the bat at 110 mph, its launch angle was 28 degrees, and it went 429 to right-center.
The bullpen got the job done. Josh Osich pitched a scoreless eighth, as he stranded both baserunners he inherited. In the ninth, Thyago Vieira, who was just promoted back to the majors from Charlotte, struck out the first batter he faced but then loaded the bases. This prompted Rick Rentería to pull Vieira for Alex Colomé, who allowed one of Vieira’s runs to score on a sacrifice fly, but that was it.
The White Sox broke a three-game losing streak, as they improved to 22-26. Meanwhile, the Astros fell to 33-17. The series finale will start tomorrow at 7:10 CST. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Chicago (MLB Network for out-of-market), and it will be audible on WGN 720. Lucas Giolito is the probable starter, and Leigh Allan will have your game coverage.