Lance Lynn discovered his inner Bert Blyleven, Elvis Andrus discovered his inner Aaron Judge, and the Seattle third base coach discovered his inner fear of challenging a defense, which was all enough for the White Sox to hang on for a squeaker over a Mariners team that was sleepless in Seattle. Well, that and a little luck.
Lynn eschewed his usual repertoire of fast ball A, fast ball B, and fast ball C to unveil a newly brilliant curve ball, taking advantage of a Mariners team that had been in Cleveland until the wee hours to make a brilliant seven-inning start of 11 Ks, just one walk (against a team second in the league in free passes), three hits and one unearned run. Lynn got most of his strikeouts on curves, as well as most of his 25 swinging strikes, and retired the last 17 he faced.
AJ Pollock put the Sox on the board first with a 358-foot line shot on a first-pitch changeup from Marco Gonzales in the second.
Seattle tied it up in the bottom half, but a Romy González single and a fly by Andrus that was just enough — by about an inch — to go off of Mitch Haniger’s glove and onto yellow paint.
Andrus not only provided what proved to be two crucial runs with the homer, but made three really fine fielding plays, two on grounders and one on a line drive, without which the W would have been an L. His robberies are part of the reason the Mariners had the seven hardest-hit balls of the game, but little to show for it — a little good fortune mixed with good D there.
That was it for scoring until the bottom of the ninth. Kendall Graveman survived the eighth despite two absolute smashes, one nabbed by Andrus and the other a single, but it was Liam Hendriks who made things a little more exciting than they had to be.
Haniger led off with a 107.5 mph single, was wild-pitched to second, then, after two outs, Hendriks walked pinch-hitting slugger Emilio Suarez (several usual Mariners starters didn’t start, presumably because of the rough turnaround) on four pitches. That brought up J.P. Crawford, who hits Liam well as a rule, and did so again, with a bloop single to right. For some reason, Sam Haggerty, who pinch-ran for Suarez, was held at third.
True, the ball was in the hands of the only White Sox outfielders who can throw at all, Adam Engel, but when Engel’s throw was way wide, so that turned out to be a really bad decision, as challenging the outfield is a much better idea than challenging Hendriks, who closed the game out with a strikeout of Adam Frazier.
The win puts the Sox one game over .500 (again) at 68-67 (5-1 in games when Miguel Cairo made out the lineup) one game behind the Twins, who lost to the Yankees, and either one or two behind the Guardians, who were ahead of the Royals as of this writing.
Game 2 of the series will be at 8:40 p.m. Central tomorrow, with Johnny Cueto facing fireballing righty Logan Gilbert.