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MLB: Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros

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White Sox 6, Astros 3: Nail-Biter in Houston

Key defensive plays and offensive surges secure series split

Teammates celebrate after splitting the series in Houston to start the season.
| Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

What a game for the Chicago White Sox. They will walk out of Minute Maid Park with a 6-3 win against the Houston Astros and a series split. This game was won thanks a mix of offensive and defensive plays that sparked the game when needed.

It was a quiet game at first for both teams, as the game went scoreless the first four innings. Luis García started off great for the Astros, but got into some trouble starting in the top of the fifth inning, thanks to a Luis Robert Jr. home run that was much-needed, for both him and the game.

Hopefully this hit for Robert can turn his at-bats around and get him back on track. The Astros threatened in the bottom half of the inning as a one-out Alex Bregman walk and two-out José Abreu single for the Astros (which is still weird to say), put runners on first and second. Oscar Colás made an outstanding play to end the inning and the threat.

Good things happen when outfielders play in the outfield!

That momentum carried into the top of the sixth, as Yoán Moncada (who, by the way, is on a powerful surge to start the season), started off the inning with a double. Andrew Vaughn immediately singled to drive him in and extend the lead to 2-0. Not comfortable yet, but definitely big.

Yasmani Grandal continued the on-base parade with a walk, and that would be it for García on the mound for Houston. He went five innings with seven hits, three earned runs, two walks, and four strikeouts. His ERA starts off at 5.40. Phil Maton replaced him, but was spoiled by Colás as he delivered with his first major league RBI, a double to left field. Colás has been nothing short of impressive this season so far.

After Elvis Andrus was hit by a pitch, the South Siders threatened for more insurance runs, but came up short and were not able to score with the bases loaded and nobody out. Gregory Santos started the bottom of the sixth inning for the White Sox, and the Astros got to work quickly. Chas McCormick started the inning with a walk and stolen base, and with two outs Martín Maldonado singled to center to get the Astros on the board, 3-1. Maldonado advanced to second on a wild pitch by Santos, but Jeremy Peña struck out to end the inning and the threat.

In the top of the eighth Colás got on base again, with a single and stolen base, and Tim Anderson drove him in with a one-out double to extend the lead to 4-1. That would turn out to be a huge insurance run — and was the first of many RBIs for Anderson this season.

Kendall Graveman saw a clean inning of work in the eighth, other than a single to McCormick.

Andrew Benintendi started off the top of the ninth inning with a walk, followed by a Moncada oppo-shot, his second of the series. This potentially blew the game open, 6-1, but you can’t ever really rest easy against Houston.

Reynaldo López took the mound to start the ninth inning in a non-save situation, but the Astros made it a very, very tense inning. You could even hear it in Jason and Steve’s voices.

Let’s break it down:

First, César Salazar pinch-hit for Maldonado and started the inning with a walk. Peña also induced a walk to put runners on first and second. Luckily Bregman, who is 0-for-16 to start the season, struck out to give the White Sox their first out. Then, Robert made an absolutely ridiculous play in center field to potentially save the game and multiple runs, on a Kyle Tucker blast.

Abreu added one on the board for the Astros (again, weird) with an RBI single to cut the lead to 6-2. David Hensley singled to right field for another RBI, making it 6-3 with the tying run at the plate.

López appeared to be rattled because he got multiple disengagement violations, which moved the runners to second and third base. After multiple talks with the umpires between Dusty Baker and Pedro Grifol, the game finally continued, and McCormick popped out Vaughn at first base to end the stressful game.

Overall, walking out of the defending champions’ home field with a split series and 2-2 record to start the season isn’t bad. That is something you maybe wouldn’t have seen last year. Let’s hope the White Sox can continue the good play into their home opener tomorrow afternoon, as they start a new series against the San Francisco Giants.

By the way, the White Sox issued some important information about that home opener. Due to possible inclement weather tomorrow afternoon and night (rain), the game has been pushed up to a 2:10 p.m. CT start time. Gates will open at 12:30 p.m., and pregame festivities will start at 1:30 p.m.

I will be attending personally, so let’s hope our guys can come out with a big win. It will be Michael Kopech on the mound for his first start of the year against righty Anthony DeSclafani. Brett Ballantini has your pregame and recap, and don’t forget to listen to or watch both Chrystal O’Keefe’s Visiting Dugout preview of the Giants (up tonight) and our Sox Populi crew podcasting post-Houston and pre-SF (on-site tomorrow morning).

See you next Sunday, and let’s have a good week of baseball!

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