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It must be tough to sweep a doubleheader, because even these White Sox forced a split in the second game.
Sure, they almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, but the Sox snapped an eight-game skid just the same. Lucas Giolito did the heavy lifting early, Xavier Cedeno saved everybody’s bacon late, and the White Sox sprayed a bunch of timely hits in between.
Giolito finished the seventh inning by striking out Josh Phegley, his eighth K of the night. It would’ve been a nice way to finish off his finest start of the season, but since it was a doubleheader, and since Chris Volstad is apparently the bullpen’s right-handed setup man, Renteria tried to squeeze an extra out of two from Giolito. Two batters and two singles later, Giolito left the mound to a still-hearty ovation, but with mild danger ahead.
Jace Fry heightened the alarm when he walked the only batter he was brought in to face on four pitches, which brought Volstad into the mess. Then Khris Davis beat the shift on a 3-2 pitch for a two-run single that put runners on the corners with nobody out. That’s when Xavier Cedeno entered as the inning’s fourth pitcher, which usually signals the end times.
But Matt Olson’s soft liner couldn’t clear the glove of a leaping Tim Anderson. One out. Cedeno then struck out Mark Canha. Two outs. Chad Pinder followed by hitting a grounder to short. Anderson took care to stay down on it — perhaps too much care, because when he stopped the ball, he committed even more to gravity by falling backward. He righted himself and flipped to second just in time to force the sliding Davis for the third out, preserving the one-run lead.
Anderson led off the eighth by blasting a Yusmeiro Petit hanger over the bullpen in left for a cathartic solo shot, complete with bat flip. Joakim Soria then retired the side in the order, punctuated by a Yoan Moncada play of difficulty. He ranged to his right, slid to stop the grounder, then spun and fired to first in one motion to end the game.
That’s what it took to end the losing streak.
It could’ve been easier, because Giolito cruised, at least once he endured his 2018 brand of struggles in the first inning. He fell behind 1-0 after allowing three straight batters to reach with two outs. A pair of walks and a single triggered flashbacks to his last start against Detroit, or most of his other starts for that matter.
But he came out with a livelier fastball that averaged 94 and touched 96, and the better stuff hung around. After Adam Engel started the second with a diving catch, Giolito started taking control of the game. He set up good counts, then used his slider to get the whiffs (nine of his 13 swinging strikes). One first-pitch fastball found the seats when Olson homered with two outs in the sixth, but the Sox got that run back and then some.
Speaking of which, the Sox offense went 5-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They strung together three straight one-out hits off old friend Chris Bassitt, with Omar Narvaez’s two-run single giving the Sox their first lead of the day. After Engel grounded out, Charlie Tilson dropped a single into left for a kicker and a 3-1 lead.
Engel then answered Olson’s homer in the sixth. Marcus Semien committed his second error of the doubleheader to put runners on first and second, and Narvaez loaded the bases with his third single of the day. That set up Engel, who smashed a single off the mound and past a diving Semien for two RBIs, giving the Sox the necessary runs to finally win a game.
*Along with the catch, Engel also cut down Pinder at third base on an ill-advised tag-up.
*Daniel Palka’s workplace accident board was reset to zero after getting turned around twice on what was a fairly routine deepish fly to right. It was called a double because Palka didn’t touch it.
*The bottom of the order did the heavy lifting, because the top four spots — Moncada, Yolmer Sanchez, Jose Abreu and Matt Davidson went 1-for-16 with a walk.
*Regarding the lede, see?
— Sammy P (@spshoot) June 23, 2018
Record: 25-50 | Box score