It’s one thing to get shut down by a right-handed ace like Gerrit Cole. It’s not unheard of to get handcuffed by erratic righties like Brad Keller, Matt Shoemaker and John Gant.
But when a guy like Matt Harvey, who has been lost for most of the last four seasons, wanders into a lively Guaranteed Rate Field having allowed 23 runs over his last 14⅔ innings, there are no real excuses for coming away empty-handed.
The White Sox won’t have to go reaching for excuses or searching for answers, because they extended Harvey’s personal losing streak to five games while extending Baltimore’s skid to 11. They generated traffic early and often, punctuated by a couple of big swings that covered for Dallas Keuchel’s own issues keeping the ball in the park.
The White Sox made Harvey throw 88 pitches over three-plus innings, and Baltimore’s relievers didn’t have it much easier, as four pitchers threw 159 over six. The Sox accumulated six walks on top of their eight hits, so they could have scored more than the seven they posted.
Still, seven proved plenty. After Keuchel allowed the first of two Freddy Galvis homers in the first inning, the White Sox had an answer. Tim Anderson, back after nursing a sore thumb over the last three days, greeted Harvey with a double, and he came around to score three batters later on the first of José Abreu’s two run-scoring singles.
Two innings later, the Sox broke it open the way the pitching matchup suggested possible. Harvey walked Yasmani Grandal and Yoán Moncada to put two on for Abreu. When both advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch, Abreu shoved a single to right field to push both runs across for a 3-1 lead. After Yermín Mercedes struck out, Jake Lamb struck, turning on a 1-2 mistake fastball for a two-run blast and a 5-1 lead.
Keuchel lasted five innings to improve to 4-1, but it was a little bit dicey. He allowed eight hits and a walk, including three homers. Maikel Franco opened the fourth with a leadoff homer, followed by a Ryan Mountcastle triple into the right-field corner that turned into another run. Galvis’ second homer of the day in the fifth made it a one-run game. Keuchel only got five swinging strikes on 87 pitches, and none on 23 cutters/sliders.
Fortunately, Keuchel only walked one, so the line was a byproduct of a valid strategy to make the Orioles hit their way on. All three homers came with nobody on base, and the Orioles went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position (Mountcastle scored on an RBI groundout).
The shortened game made it easier for Tony La Russa to go to the bullpen after five, and the two relievers he chose validated the strategy. Evan Marshall and Liam Hendriks both pitched perfect innings with two strikeouts.
Nevertheless, the two additional runs the Sox scored were welcome, especially when they come on a Yoán Moncada homer clocked at 111 mph.
*Grandal in the second spot generated pressure, as the top four spots in the lineup combined to reach base 10 times over seven innings.
*Lamb is an iffy play in right field. He almost collided into Nick Madrigal in shallow right field without calling for it or taking charge in any other fashion, and a better right fielder probably collects Mountcastle’s flare along the wall in time to limit him to a double.
*Angel Hernandez is an iffy umpire. The edges of his strike zone were set to “shuffle,” as he missed about a dozen pitches in both directions for both teams.
Record: 30-20 | Box score | Statcast
The edges of his strike zone were set to “shuffle,”
Pure gold Margalus