Astros 4, White Sox 3: Joakim Soria looks mortal again

First blown save in months costs White Sox first win against Houston in 2018

I’ve found this season that White Sox losses are easier to accept when you can pin them on one person. One like tonight isn’t indicative of any teamwide failure or systemic flaw — it just came down to one guy not having it.

Here, Joakim Soria had his first rough night in ages, which was due after a spotless June. He gave up his first run since May 26, his first earned run since May 18, and blew his first save since May 3. The White Sox handed him a 3-2 lead at the start of the ninth, and he could only retire one of six batters he faced. Yuli Guerriel was the one to put him out of his misery with a walk-off single.

Soria walked Tony Kemp to start the inning, then hung an 0-2 changeup to Marwin Gonzalez, who lined a single to right and pushed Kemp to third. He then got ahead 1-2 on George Springer, but his changeup stayed up and on the inner half, and Springer muscled it to center for a game-tying single. Alex Bregman drew a walk — Soria’s first two-walk outing of the year — and although Soria executed pitches to strike out Jose Altuve, he had no such luck Yuli Gurriel, who floated a single between the drawn-in infield and drawn-in outfield to end it.

Up until that point, there was a lot to like. If you had to pick one quibble, Soria’s walks were the eighth and ninth ones issued by White Sox pitching. The Sox had pitched around a leadoff walk an inning earlier, as Jose Abreu snared a grounder and threw home to catch Gurriel in a pickle on a contact play, but they couldn’t do it twice in a row.

Still, you had Carlos Rodon squaring off against Justin Verlander and mostly keeping up. Verlander lasted seven innings to Rodon’s six, struck out 10 to Rodon’s six, and handed out zero walks to Rodon’s six, but they both came away without a decision.

Rodon only bled in the fifth, when Altuve followed up a Bregman double with a no-doubt blast to left that put the game’s first runs on the board. Verlander faced the minimum through five — a great throw by Springer cut down Omar Narvaez at second on what looked like a sure double — so a win looked unlikely.

And it turned out it was, but not because of Verlander. The Sox tied it up an inning later, starting with Narvaez getting him again. This time he pulled a down-and-in curveball well over the wall in right for a solo shot that cut Houston’s lead in half.

Verlander responded by striking out Leury Garcia and getting Tim Anderson to line out gently to right, yet he couldn’t lock the door. Instead, Yoan Moncada stayed with a slider and lined it to right for a two-out single, and Yolmer Sanchez went with a first-pitch fastball to the left-center gap to score Moncada and tie the game.

The Sox then took the lead when Leury Garcia got all of a Chris Devenski fastball with one out in the eighth. So they came up with timely hits against odds, and they played strong defense to support wobbly-but-effective pitching. It sucks that Soria had his first off night in forever and that the Sox are still winless against Houston this season, but at least the failure can be compartmentalized.

Bullet points:

*Narvaez hit the ball hard all three times up and had a terrific game blocking pitches. He even caught a foul tip with his chest protector for strike three.

*Anderson left the game a little bit after getting drilled in the forearm by a Devenski fastball  He did steal second on Devenski, and also made a strong play in the hole earlier in the game.

*Avisail Garcia went 0-for-4, so his hitting streak ended at 14 games.

*The Sox had an opportunity to draw a walk against Verlander when Matt Davidson worked a 3-0 count, but he swung on that count and flied out to left.

Record: 30-57 | Box score

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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PauliePaulie

Madrigal left his first game after 2 AB’s . Please, please don’t let it be another prospect injury.

Greg Nix

3 PA’s, and sounds like it was planned. (This was RT’d by FutureSox.)

Greg Nix

The occasional flashes of power remind you how much more playable Narvaez would be if he could slug .400