Coming off a flat loss, the National League’s Cy Young front-runner figured to pose an obstacle for a quick turnaround for the White Sox.
But while Trevor Bauer looked like hell on hitters early, the White Sox coasted to a palate-cleansing victory over the back half of the evening. They lowered their magic number in the AL Central down to four.
After the White Sox built a few mild threats that failed to materialize into runs, they decided to simply homer their way through it. Two solo shots in the fifth inning, followed by back-to-to-back-to-back blasts in the eighth inning, got the job done.
Perhaps the homer by Nomar Mazara — his first in nearly a calendar year — inspired his teammates to get their act together. He got his hands in on a up-and-in Trevor Bauer fastball and ripped it out to right, which was one of those swings Rick Hahn probably envisioned when he traded for him. Two batters later, Tim Anderson got the hands up on a high two-seamer and launched it out to center for a sudden 2-0 lead.
The White Sox bullpen kept the Reds from threatening, but the hitters still provided a bigger cushion. Anderson, Yasmani Grandal and José Abreu opened the eighth inning by sending elevated Robert Stephenson fastballs out to Treasure Island. Abreu’s swing in particular made a mockery of Stephenson’s game plan, because look at where he threw it:
With that swing, Abreu atoned for a particularly ghastly first-inning strikeout, when he was rung up on a checked swing at a slider that bounced over the other batter’s box. Bauer struck out the side to start the first, so it looked like another long night ahead.
Dallas Keuchel had to work a little harder early, but he managed to match Bauer zero-for-zero through four. He had an atypical night in his return from the injured list, working around four hits and three walks thanks to seven strikeouts, and with no thanks to ground balls. Five of his seven strikeouts were backward K’s. Grandal helped him by widening the plate a few inches.
Rick Renteria limited Keuchel to 75 pitches, but the White Sox bullpen picked up where he left off. Matt Foster vultured his way to a 5-0 record with two perfect innings, striking out two. Codi Heuer, Jimmy Cordero and Jace Fry didn’t work clean innings, but the last two pitchers erased their baserunners with double plays, including a nifty 6-3 job by a shifted Anderson to end the game.
The at-bats from White Sox hitters were more competitive after the first inning, but they couldn’t quite stack togethre productive ones. Yoán Moncada tripled with two outs in the second, but Luis Robert grounded out to third. Nick Madrigal singled with one out in the third, but neither Anderson nor Grandal could square up Bauer. Abreu reached with a leadoff single against Bauer in the fourth and went nowhere. That’s when they decided to just put the ball over the fence, and that bold strategy paid off.
*Anderson raised his average to .366, and his OPS to 1.012, by pulling a D.J. LeMahieu and homering twice. Abreu’s at .330 and 1.021.
*Edwin Encarnación and Luis Robert both went 0-for-4, which makes a potential Mazara upswing all the more useful if he can sustain something.
*Keuchel lowered his ERA to 2.04.
*The White Sox were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. The Reds were 1-for-10, but the “1” was a line-drive single hit so hard that the Reds didn’t send Nick Senzel on even Eloy Jiménez’s arm. (Jiménez did make an accurate throw.)