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In hindsight, this game was over after the first inning. Against rookie pitcher Zack Littell, the Chicago White Sox put up four runs in the first inning pacing themselves to a 6-3 victory in the doubleheader’s nightcap. Jose Abreu hit his 10th home run of the season, Yolmer Sanchez smacked two doubles for two RBI, and Kevan Smith made a triumphant return with an RBI single in his first at-bat of 2018.
Now it sounds like this was an easy victory for the White Sox, but just like the first game of the day, it got uneasy watching the bullpen late.
It started in the eighth inning with Jace Fry replacing Chris Volstad on the mound to face Robbie Grossman and Eddie Rosario. After walking Grossman in a tough, seven-pitch battle, Fry allowed a single to Eddie Rosario putting runners on first and second with no outs. With Miguel Sano coming to the plate, manager Rick Renteria made the second pitching change of the inning asking Bruce Rondon to get out of the jam. On a 2-2 count, Rondon got Sano to swing and miss on a slider in the dirt for out one. With notorious White Sox killer Eduardo Escobar coming to bat, the Sox had a mound visit to discuss their plan of attack.
Naturally, that plan failed as Escobar clubbed a 99-mph fastball for a double to left field scoring Grossman and now the tying run was coming to the plate as the lead shrunk to 6-3. Renteria again went to the bullpen giving the ball to lefty Luis Avilan to face Max Kepler with runners on second and third. Perhaps Renteria could have intentionally walked Kepler to load the bases and hope that one of Rodon’s sliders against Mitch Garver would induce a double play. The decision to go to Avilan worked as he struck out Kepler for the second out.
After that at-bat, Renteria made his fourth pitching change asking Joakim Soria to face Garver. It has been well documented on the late-inning meltdown’s Soria has put the White Sox through this season. Keeping with the inning trend, Soria struck out Garver on three pitches leaving runners on second and third.
Renteria kept Soria in the ninth to earn the save, but after two quick outs, the Twins once again threatened with a big inning. After hitting Brian Dozier on a 0-2 curveball, Grossman singled to right field putting runners on the corners and the game-tying run at home plate. None other than Rosario who hit the go-ahead home run earlier today. Soria was able to get ahead 0-2, and on a 95-mph fastball, Rosario rolled it to Yoan Moncada who made the easy throw to first for the final out. Even though it got pretty shaky, the bullpen was able to keep it together for a successful landing.
That gave Lucas Giolito his fourth win of 2018. Working with Kevan Smith paid dividends last year, and the pair worked well tonight. In six innings, Giolito only allowed two earned runs on six hit with two walks. It got pretty dicey in the third inning, but Giolito was able to recover and faced the lineup a third time. It wasn’t a good performance as Giolito only managed to get one strikeout, but it was fine enough as he worked with a nice four-run cushion. With Carlos Rodon returning soon, tonight probably merited Giolito at least another round in the starting rotation.
Record: 19-39 | Box Score