Today was a good day. It was a nice sunny Saturday in Chicago, and out east, the White Sox decided to string together hits for an abundance of runs against both right-handed and left-handed pitching.
Things got started early this evening, when the South Siders answered a first-inning Pirates run with a run of their own in the top of the second. Andrew Vaughn opened things with a single, which was followed by a Gavin Sheets walk. Vaughn got to third on a Yasmani Grandal double play, but rookie Oscar Colás saved the day and singled Vaughn in with two outs. This was the beginning of the end for Pirates pitchers.
In the top of the third inning, Andrew Benintendi came through with a single to score Tim Anderson to break the 1-1 tie. Benintendi came around to score thanks to a wild pitch by Vince Velasquez. The two-out hits were just beginning, as Grandal came through with a single to score both Vaughn and Sheets. Velasquez was pulled from the game just one batter later.
The starter and losing pitcher only completed 2 2⁄3 innings, giving up five earned runs on six hits. He walked four batters in his outing and his ERA rose to a hefty 9.82. In fact, no Pirates pitcher went more than 2 2⁄3 innings this evening. Personally, I am glad Velasquez is no longer our problem, and now Pittsburgh can decide to DFA him or not.
The black-and-gold’s relentless offense came through with a run in the bottom of the third inning on a sacrifice fly, by no other than Bryan Reynolds.
The bases were loaded with Good Guys with no outs in the top of the fifth after a Vaughn single, Sheets walk, and Grandal hit-by-pitch. In true White Sox fashion, they were only able to manufacture a single run, from an Elvis Andrus sacrifice fly. They would break this game open, I promise, just keep reading.
Pittsburgh lingered in the bottom of the fifth, with a sacrifice fly from Andrew McCutchen and an RBI single by Carlos Santana to make it 6-4.
The top of the seventh put the game out of reach for Pittsburgh, with a five-spot from the Chicago ball club making it 11-4. All of these runs were scored in the truest of White Sox fashion: RBI singles. Four back-to-back singles were hit by Colás, Andrus, Anderson, and Luis Robert Jr.
The only other run of the game was scored in the bottom of the ninth inningas homecoming hero McCutchen homered. Other than this run, the bullpen was lights-out this evening.
Joe Kelly, Aaron Bummer, and Kendall Graveman all had scoreless outings. Reynaldo López closed the game out in a low-pressure situation, which was exactly what he needed. As fun as a (mostly) clean bullpen outing is, it should be noted that the White Sox have not had a 1-2-3 inning in almost 30 innings, and the bullpen has given up a run in all nine games this year; the pitching is still in desperate need of cleaning things up.
Offensively, things seem to be clicking. Even though Yoán Moncada’s hit streak ended tonight, he and Jake Burger (who came in to pinch-hit for Sheets), were the only two batters without a hit in today’s game. The White Sox scored 11 runs on 14 hits. They drew six walks and struck out only six times in 44 plate appearances.
White Sox have had 10+ hits in 8 of their first 9 games this season, which is something they had never done in franchise history.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 9, 2023
In contrast, they had 10+ hits in only 3 of their first 19 games last season.
The road back to .500 continues tomorrow, with Michael Kopech on the mound at 12:35 p.m. CST. I hope you are all enjoying the ride so far!