Lucas Giolito may have pitched the best game of his career, going from a Michael Brantley double in the first to an Abraham Toro homer in the eighth without allowing a baserunner (yeah, I know he had the no-hitter last year, but that was against the Pirates and this was the Astros, and there’s a rather substantial difference). But he also did something even more amazing — in nine innings and 30 batters, Houston hit only one ball on the ground, a José Altuve bouncer to Yoán Moncada in the sixth.
Otherwise, Giolito held the team with the second-best OPS in MLB (.001 behind Toronto) to one other single and 18 fly outs/pop-ups, while striking out eight. Of course, he could have pitched his worst game ever — even one as bad as that incredibly stupid and obnoxious Guaranteed Rate commercial made him out to be — and it wouldn’t have mattered, because the Sox decided to score more runs in one game that they had in their five previous losses to Houston.
They did that by primarily going to the opposite field, including for the first three of their five — five, count ’em, five — home runs. (This is probably a good a time as any to express extreme displeasure with the insane cliche “oppo taco.” I bow to no one in my love for Mexican food, but unless you’re also going to call every good catch a “neato burrito,” every pitch that gets by the catcher a “queso misso,” and every one that doesn’t a “guacamole blockamole,” just knock it off already.)
The dingers started off innocently enough, with very modest opposite field fly balls that just made it out, on consecutive pitches to Zack Collins and Tim Anderson in the third; they were not awe-inspiring, unless you consider how hard it is to precisely bounce a ball off of the top of the fence. Nonetheless, they were enough to rattle Jake Odorizzi, who then issued back-to-back walks to Moncada and José Abreu, including seven straight balls. Odorizzi escaped the third inning, but departed in the fourth after giving up two more runs on doubles to Gavin Sheets and Jake Burger and a single to Anderson, who would get three hits on the night.
It was after the bottom end of the Astros bullpen took over that the White sox belted really long, long balls. First, up Gavin Sheets, again going oppo — but definitely not taco. More chimichanga.
That was good for for 424 feet and an exit velocity of 104.6 mph, and made the score 6-0. Abreu apparently was tired of rookies showing off, and he really uncorked one.
That was a foot shorter, at 423, but a whole lot faster, at 112.2, and came with Anderson and Moncada aboard, making it 9-0.
The rookies got the last say, though, as Jake Burger got his first major league four-bagger in grand fashion.
JAKE BURGER! FIRST CAREER HOME RUN! pic.twitter.com/F9lcJwW03z— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 18, 2021
Burger’s topped them all — yes, a Burger-toppings pun — at a rather ridiculous 456 feet, with a 115.2 EV.
The White Sox got a dozen hits total, with every starter but Leury García and Andrew Vaughn notching at least one, and Leury getting on three times on two walks and a well-placed elbow.
All told, the game showed just how inspiring it can be to have a teammate sign a $38,000,000 contract in the morning. Rick Hahn should do that with someone every day.
Unfortunately, they didn’t get to carry over any spare runs to tomorrow, when Carlos Rodón will try to give the Sox the weekend series victory, game time 1:10 p.m. Central.