The White Sox (35-47) managed to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Angels (44-38) out in Orange County, with Luis Robert Jr. managing to outshine another star performance from Shohei Ohtani and blasting one of four Sox home runs tonight, tying the team’s season-high.
The Sox struck quickly in this one, sticking two runs on Jaime Barría before most of us even had a chance to sit back, relax, and strap it down. Andrew Benintendi drew a dreaded leadoff walk to open the game, and two batters later, the incandescent Robert became the first Sox hitter with a 10-homer month since José Abreu in August 2021, with a 444-foot moonshot to dead center, his longest batted ball of the year:
It was clear from the get-go that Barría simply didn’t have it tonight, and he allowed singles to Eloy Jiménez and Gavin Sheets before ending the ending, but things didn’t start any more promisingly for Lucas Giolito, who was welcomed back to his hometown with back-to-back triples from noted good baseball players Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout to start his day. A Brandon Drury single later, the game was tied at two through one.
Giolito managed to settle down in relatively short order, sandwiching five straight scoreless innings between those two runs in the first and two more in the seventh. Things only got worse for Barría, however. Seby Zavala quickly broke the tie in the second inning with a solo homer, his fifth of the year, and before he could get an out in the third inning, Eloy Jiménez added to the lead by smoking one 407 feet for his 10th of the year:
The boys didn’t stop there, as Andrew Vaughn immediately followed up with a double in the left field gap, and after Barría managed to retire two more hitters, Zach Remillard brought Vaughn home with his first career extra-base hit to bring the lead to 5-2.
While Giolito managed to retire 12 straight Angels at one point in the middle innings, Barría was lifted after that third inning for Andrew Wantz, who was met with more or less the same greeting his predecessor received. Andrew Benintendi led off with a single that was immediately followed by a rare Tim Anderson walk, and Robert subsequently loaded the bases by hustling out a would-be double-play ball that Anderson also managed to beat to second base, with everybody safe. Jiménez struck out, but Andrew Vaughn was seeing the ball a little better out of Wantz’s hand and did the exact same thing he did the first time up: Absolutely scorch a double into the left field gap.
Vaughn picked up three total hits tonight, and his three RBI bring his season total to a team-high 49, keeping him on pace to be the first non-José Abreu player to drive in 100 runs since Paul Konerko in 2011. With the score now 8-2, the Sox tacked on one more in the fifth inning on Zavala’s second longball of the day, a towering fly ball to the left field corner that everyone in the stadium — Zavala included — was certain would land foul. Until it didn’t:
Giolito allowed a pair of solo home runs to Brandon Drury and Hunter Renfroe in his final inning of work, giving him a final line of four earned runs on six hits over seven innings, striking out nine without allowing a free pass. His ERA now sits at a quite solid 3.53 in 99 1⁄3 innings, and while he’s still not running the crazy strikeout rates we saw pre-sticky ban, Giolito’s fastball and slider command is better than its ever been. With his velocity back in its usual 93-94 mph range after barely averaging 90 by the end of last season, it’s safe to say Giolito has learned how to get hitters out without generating whiffs in the strike zone with his fastball, which he simply can’t do nearly as well without the extra rise that sticky stuff gives it.
Though I, personally, hope it is not, there’s a very good chance that we’re entering Lucas Giolito’s final month in a White Sox uniform. A Giolito trade would certainly mark the end of an era. Given that the return that would probably top out around the last 25 names on the Top 100 prospect lists, it would also be an emphatic declaration of failure for the “mired in mediocrity” rebuild, which seems to have culminated with a grand total of one (real) playoff win over the six years that Giolito and the other returns from the much-ballyhooed Sale/Eaton/Quintana triumvirate were all under contract together. Lucas Giolito is an excellent pitcher who may very well still have another level in him on a team that actually knows what it’s doing. We should enjoy watching him while we can.
Kendall Graveman ran into some ninth-inning trouble, allowing two runs to score on back-to-back-to-back singles, including yet another knock from Ohtani to add to his MLB-best RBI total. But the game was already well in hand, and a sharp line out from Mickey Moniak put a wrap on a solid 11-5 win.
The Sox will be in action tomorrow afternoon, to finish up the proceedings against Shohei Ohtani & Co. for the year. First pitch is at 3:07 p.m. CT, with Lance Lynn taking the bump for the first time following a team-record-tying 16 strikeouts last week and facing off with Patrick Sandoval (4-6, 4.16 ERA), a tough lefty who’s hit some bumps in the road lately but has been good for a 3.41 ERA in more than 300 innings since the start of the 2021 season. We’ll see you there!
Who was tonight’s White Sox MVP?
This poll is closed
Lucas Giolito (7 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 9 SO)
Andrew Vaughn (3-for-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI, BB)
Seby Zavala (3-for-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI)
Luis Robert Jr. (2-for-6, HR, 2 RBI)
Is it worth it to bother with a Cold Cat tonight? Perhaps we would be better served enjoying an all-too-rare game in which not a single one is immediately evident.