The White Sox finally put a stop to whatever grip the Orioles seem to have over them, taking an early 2-0 lead that ultimately turned into a 5-3 victory despite the home side threatening to tie or take the lead on numerous occasions. With Cleveland winning for the 12th time in 16 tries and Minnesota falling to the Astros, the Sox remain three games behind the former for first place in the AL Central while moving one game behind the latter for second.
But hey, still waiting for the rest of the AL Central to show up!
Lucas Giolito continued to adjust to life without the velocity and stuff that made him a top-11 Cy Young finisher every year from 2019-21, throwing 93 pitches over 6 1⁄3 innings with just a single earned run on his line despite striking out just three with a subpar 27% CSW.
Despite the mediocre numbers, his success tonight — he allowed just four hits and two walks, with one coming as his last batter of the game — was well-earned. His command was as sharp as it’s been in some time, as he consistently located his fastball on almost exclusively his glove side, successfully moving it up and down the zone while keeping the changeup to the opposite side of the plate and peppering the outside edges with sliders.
The swing-and-miss stuff still isn’t there — again, only three strikeouts against a lineup that isn’t anybody’s Murderer’s Row — but it’s also clear that this version of low-velocity, no-sticky-stuff Giolito is a much more competitive player than the famously “worst pitcher in baseball” that we saw in 2018. He’s still on the fringes of any potential playoff rotation, but he’s also still got enough going for him that a few successful tweaks could put him right back into the picture. Overall, his 93-pitch outing looked like this:
Another day, another mediocre right-hander, another tepid offensive performance. Nearly two months to the day after Spenser Watkins frustrated the White Sox with just a single unearned run allowed over five innings at Guaranteed Rate Field, he did it again over six innings tonight in Baltimore, following up two runs allowed in the first with five shutout innings, walking two and striking out five along the way.
After allowing batted balls of 95+ mph to three of the first four hitters of the night, Watkins’ mix of fastballs, sliders, and cutters kept the Sox off-balance and most of their hard contact on the ground. Watkins allowed just a solitary hit after Romy González’s single to lead off the second inning. Although his fastball was inconsistent and often left down the middle, the Sox let Watkins use it and his cutter to consistently get ahead in the account before forcing bad swings with sliders on the edges and out of the zone.
On the whole, Watkins’ 88-pitch outing looked like this:
You just had that sinking feeling, you know? Lucas Giolito had been left in the game just a batter or two too long, Kendall Graveman couldn’t find the strike zone. With the bases loaded, one out, and the Leverage Index at a game-high 5.18, Jorge Mateo did exactly what we all expected: Smoke a double down the left field line to give Baltimore a late lead.
Did I say that? I would’ve said that, if Yoán Moncada hadn’t made other plans:
Kendall Graveman’s 1.95 pLI out of the bullpen paced both sides tonight.
With win probability statistics unable to quantify the impact of Moncada’s defensive play without quite a lot of math work, Gavin Sheets’ first-inning single to give the Sox the early lead was the biggest play of the day with .126 WPA for the road side.
Gavin Sheets’s .210 WPA in total was enough to lead the game.
Hardest hit: Romy González takes the cake with a 108.6 mph ground out to lead off the sixth inning against Watkins.
Weakest contact: You didn’t think Romy was going anywhere, did you? His 37.6 mph ground out in the fourth inning also happened to be the softest-hit batted ball of the day.
Luckiest hit: Adley Rutschman’s fourth-inning double to the right field corner had an xBA of just .090. Oh right fielder, where art thou?
Toughest out: Andrew Vaughn’s eighth-inning line out to straightaway center field had an xBA of .760, though that’s admittedly misleading because xBA doesn’t account for the fact that it was hit straight at where the center fielder always plays.
Longest hit: Austin Hays’ ninth-inning blast against Liam Hendriks needed to stretch 406 feet to clear Oriole Park’s cavernous new left field cutout.
Magic Numbers: 12, 100%, & 796
The White Sox had 12 hits in tonight’s win.
100% of those hits were singles.
The White Sox now have 796 singles, most in baseball. Entering today, no other team had more than 758:
We Love The Offense
Hard-hit is any ball off the bat at 95 mph or more
LI measures pressure per play
pLI measures total pressure faced in-game
Whiff a swing-and-miss
WPA win probability added measures contributions to the win
xBA expected batting average
Who was the White Sox MVP tonight?
This poll is closed
Lucas Giolito (6 1⁄3 IP, ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 SO)
Yoán Moncada (0-for-5, Made That Play Though)
Gavin Sheets (3-for-5, 3 RBI)
Romy González (2-for-5, R, Hit Ball Hard)
Who was the White Sox Cold Cat tonight?
This poll is closed
Yoán Moncada (Did go 0-for-5, after all)
Liam Hendriks (IP, 2 ER, 2 SO)
Letting Giolito Pitch The 7th