“Vote early and often” may be an old Chicago credo, but “score early and often” is even more effective.
The White Sox started the ball flying in the first, when Andrew Vaughn doubled off of Detroit rookie Garrett Hill, who was pitching his second major league game and struggling with command. Luis Robert walked, and Hill went 3-0 on Gavin Sheets:
3-0 and count but I still hit a DINGER pic.twitter.com/vO3u00CMbx— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) July 9, 2022
(Let us note that hitting a homer on a 3-0 pitch is not considered a violation of unwritten rules if the score before the swing was 0-0.)
The offense added another three-spot in the second when Tim Anderson doubled, Vaughn was hit by a pitch, Robert singled Anderson home and José Abreu doubled in Vaughn and Robert. Voila! Six-nada.
Hill recovered after that, and the scoring was over until two final runs against the dregs of the Tigers pen in the seventh made it 8-0. The best of the Tigers bullpen was actually utility player Kody Clemens, who fired what Gamecast for some reason called “sliders” at about 55 mph, or roughly half his dad Roger’s usual smoke, and got three straight grounders to short in the eighth. It was Clemens’ second time on the mound, both against the White Sox. Maybe he’s a specialist.
None of the offense beyond the first mattered, though, except to pad batting averages, because the big story was Johnny Cueto.
Johnny Cueto brought the heat. pic.twitter.com/yV3pAVWrfz— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 9, 2022
Helped early by a couple of double plays and throughout the game by getting Tigers to ground the ball to Josh Harrison, Cueto became the first White Sox starter to go eight innings this year, ceding five singles and walking no one while striking out five.
He got some extra aid from a strike zone that was, for him, roughly as wide as the Dan Ryan, but he didn’t need the extra benefit, tossing 66 of 101 pitches for strikes (or psuedo-strikes, as the case may be) and lowering his ERA to 2.91. José Ruiz gave up a double in the ninth, but preserved the shutout, aided by Moncada’s nifty play of a foul pop pictured up top.
The Sox ended with 11 hits, with Harrison the only 0-fer and Anderson, Abreu and Sheets getting two apiece. The club went 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
The win improves the season record to 40-43, which is nothing to brag about, especially playing in the AAAL Central. Neither is splitting a home series with the Tigers, even though Detroit was riding a six-game winning streak, but that will be the goal in the final of the four-game set tomorrow afternoon. Michael Kopech will be on the mound against righty Drew Hutchinson.