It was a good night to be a young White Sox hitter.
Andrew Vaughn recorded his first career hit, while Zack Collins and Luis Robert each jumped on off-speed pitches over the plate for home runs.
And then the veteran jumped into the fun, as José Abreu’s 200th career home run — his second grand slam of the season — capped a 10-4 win over the Seattle Mariners, one that pushed the White Sox (3-3) back to .500 on the season.
It’s the White Sox’s 17th consecutive win against a left-handed starter.
Southpaw success. ✅ pic.twitter.com/Y641ldqjjR— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 7, 2021
It was Vaughn’s most impressive night at the plate, and not only because he roped a 105.7 mph double to right-center field to break an 0-for-9 start to his MLB career. He also drew a pair of walks, scored on Collins’ homer, and his only recorded out came on a 96.1 mph batted ball.
Chicago’s early runs came from the power of Collins and Robert, though.
Seattle starter James Paxton exited in the middle of the second inning due to left elbow discomfort, but the left-handed Collins still was tasked with facing lefty reliever Nick Margevicius, who took the loss after giving up four earned runs in 3 2⁄3 innings. With Yoán Moncada and Vaughn each drawing a walk, Collins launched a three-run blast over the right-field wall for his first home run since Sept. 18, 2019, giving the White Sox a 3-0 lead.
However, it was in part due to defensive shortcomings of Vaughn and Collins in a long, strenuous third inning that the White Sox later needed Robert’s power bat.
Lucas Giolito struck out five of Seattle’s first six batters on 23 pitches, but Luis Torrens broke up his perfect game to open the third inning. It unraveled from there.
Nick Madrigal flubbed a double-play ball, though did record a force out at second base. A couple of batters later, Mitch Haniger singled down the left field line, as the ball hit off of Vaughn’s glove — a tough play, but one a left fielder should make. After a Ty France RBI double cut the deficit to 3-2, Giolito picked up his sixth strikeout, but Collins tried to backhand the changeup, allowing the pitch to get away, a run to score and Kyle Seager to advance to first. Giolito struck out the next two batters to keep the game tied at 3-3.
Despite averaging 2.3 mph less on his four-seam fastball compared to Opening Day, Giolito only gave up three hard-hit balls and still induced a 32% whiff rate with the pitch. He relied on his changeup (eight whiffs) and slider (three whiffs) to get 10 strikeouts, as eight came on off-speed pitches. The 39-pitch third inning cost Giolito a chance to pitch deeper into the game, leaving after 5 1⁄3 innings for the second straight start, as he gave up three earned runs and four hits.
Garrett Crochet (who worked out of a self-induced jam in the sixth), Codi Heuer and Evan Marshall locked down the Mariners the rest of the game. The White Sox pitching staff made franchise history by tossing at least 15 strikeouts in back-to-back games for the first time.
France and Tom Murphy each had two hits for the Mariners, but the scoring threats largely came from the White Sox, despite leaving seven runners and going 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
In the fifth inning Robert, who finished 2-for-4 with a walk, provided the eventual game-winning runs. Margevicius hung a curveball, and Robert demolished it, with a 104 mph exit velocity, to give the White Sox a 5-3 lead.
Abreu drove in a run with a sac fly in the seventh, and then launched his milestone bomb in the eighth inning to provide much-needed insurance runs. The grand slam was a mammoth shot to left field, turning a “can the White Sox bullpen finally hold a lead?” to “this game is over.” Abreu finished with five RBIs.
In the end, the White Sox’s power bats led them to back-to-back wins for the first time this year.
They go for the sweep at 3:10 p.m. CST Wednesday, with birthday boy Bill Meincke on SSS coverage. Dallas Keuchel takes the mound for the White Sox, while Justin Dunn is Seattle’s probable starter.
The MVP votes are over at the Six Pack, take a look!