The head-to-head record will show that the White Sox lost five of seven games to the Astros this year, outscored 35-23 along the way.
At a series level, the White Sox and Astros finished the season tied at 1, and the Sox have no reason to feel inferior or undermatched — especially when the starting pitching delivers.
Carlos Rodón nearly matched Lucas Giolito’s complete-game gem on Saturday by throwing seven shutout innings today, teaming up with Michael Kopech and Liam Hendriks for a one-hitter and a series victory. A third-inning Abraham Toro one-hopper past a diving Danny Mendick at second resulted in the only Houston baserunner all afternoon.
Rodón struck out 10 batters over seven innings while throwing fewer than 100 pitches. He led with his fastball and never really deviated from that game plan, throwing it for 62 of his 98 pitches. He generated 16 whiffs, and he also generated plenty of unremarkable contact. Of the 24 hardest-hit balls in this game, the White Sox had 18 of them. As a result, the Astros didn’t even advance a runner into scoring position.
That gave the White Sox offense ample time to build a comfortable lead, which they did with four single tallies over the course of innings two through seven. The contributions ranged small and large, with RBI singles by Mendick and Adam Engel bookending solo shots for Yoán Moncada and Tim Anderson. Dusty Baker seemed content to ride Framber Valdez toward 100 pitches and seven innings even though he didn’t baffle the Sox, and the Sox took up Houston on the generosity.
The only lowlight came in the eighth inning, when the Sox TOOTBLAN’d into a double play because nobody remembers the rule that the lead runner always has the rights to the base he’s returning to. With runners on second and third with one out, Adam Engel got hung up between third and home on a contact play. He retreated toward third, where José Abreu stood.
At this point, the White Sox had two options:
Safest: Let Engel give himself up once he sees that Abreu is anchored to third.
Moderate risk: Have Abreu retreat toward second if he thinks Engel can make it back, attempting to sow confusion in the Astros defense, although it could also confuse Engel and/or Andrew Vaughn, who had reached first on his chopper to second base.
Instead, the Sox chose the third door: Keep Abreu anchored to third while Engel runs past the bag on his retreat. Martín Maldonado first tagged Abreu, then tagged Engel, and they both were out.
The White Sox bullpen didn’t need the insurance run, as Kopech and Hendriks both threw perfect innings to close it out.
*Moncada hit his first homer since June 3, which was 117 plate appearances ago.
*Anderson extended his hitting streak to 15 games with his homer.
*Mendick’s two-out RBI single in the second came after Valdez plunked Seby Zavala after getting ahead 0-2, which was the kind of unforced error a good team seizes.
*The White Sox are a game up on Houston for the best record in the American League, with the Red Sox in between.
*Rodón improved to 8-3 with a 2.14 ERA.
*Total attendance for the weekend: 102,968.
Record: 56-36 | Box score | Statcast
This is a great year.
In terms of rule gaffe’s at least the Sox did not go into whatever the hell the door was that the Mets walked into this afternoon.
Besides that was a nice win and a good way to end the weekend.
His breaking pitches are nasty. Good luck hitting them.
White Sox pitching giving up 1 run on 4 hits over the past two games of the series? That’ll do, pig, that’ll do.
What did the White Sox do to Abraham Toro? Dude has an 89 wRC+, but he *raked* against the Sox in the earlier series and in this series spoiled a CG shutout for Gio and a no-hitter today.
4 hits in 2 games by the Astros, that’s some dealing.
And importantly…the bullpen is fresh going into a double header /4 games in 3 days.Stuff like that can lead to +1 in the win column.
Though I don’t get why they used Kopech. I assuming using Kopech in the 8th means he can only go 1 or 2 innings in the doubleheader. If he hadn’t pitched, I assume he could go 3 or 4 innings.
When they committed to bringing Kopech in, it was 3-0, a small margin against a potent offense. Tony wanted to drop the hammer on Houston and win the game. Scoring 1 in the 7th wasn’t enough to shut down Kopech and get someone else ready.
Having sat with it for a while I think it is more that they are planning on Kopech being the setup man from here out. They don’t see him as a spot starter/long man anymore
Apropos of nothing other than that Seby is now hitting .154, it occurs to me that we don’t really know what Grandal’s recovery will look like.
Grandal started the season with lower body problems that limited his value both from hitting and catching. He had surgery recently. I would expect that they will be careful with him, and that even if all the correct decisions are made about his fitness/readiness to play D, he could end up unable to play consistently behind the dish.
The ramifications if something like that were to happen would be big: the Sox would need to carry a 3rd catcher, and Grandal and Eloy would be competing for DH at bats. It had not occurred to me how significant this could be for the September/October 28-man roster.
Luckily LaRussa is used to managing with a pitcher in the lineup so he will know how to work around it.
Just to play out the string, the ramifications would be:
Catcher: Collins as the starter rather than Grandal (3x more Collins!). Either Seby’s bat or Mercedes’ glove would need to be on the active roster & in the lineup ~25% of the time.
Designated hitter: You only get one of those per game. So instead of having Grandal & Eloy back in the lineup you’d just have Eloy OR Grandal back in the everyday lineup. You totally carry those guys for their bats even if neither can play defense, but you’d lose a lot of flexibility. And again, Grandal was not hitting well earlier this year when his legs were providing a poor base so it’s possible that if he isn’t healthy enough to squat every day he might not be hitting particularly well either.
Left field: In this scenario, much more likely that Eloy ends up playing in the field, meaning it would be harder to keep him healthy and it would be a big step down defensively.
Right field: Could push Vaughn to RF if Eloy’s bat needs to be in LF. Also, this leads to fewer innings of OF defense played by Engel and Hamilton (guys who are plus defenders).
In the end it’s just speculation, but it would have a big impact on the 28-man roster scenarios.
The White Sox are in a position where they can allow Yaz and Eloy to take as much time as the rules allow them to readier themselves and be 100%
Assuming Yaz can be 100% and shake off the rust in the 2.5 months of the season that remain before the playoffs
It was very satisfying to beat them with more than just one aspect of the game.
A 10-1 ass whipping can be dismissed but the gems that Giolito and Rodon gave them will not soon be forgotten.
We have half of an MLB team in the field and yes, we can win.
As fun and necessary as bumslaying is, and how good the Sox have been at it, in the second half I wanted to see them convincingly take on another top tier team. And first game notwithstanding, that’s exactly what we got. Still not “Eloy and Luis are the only additions we need” confident (especially not WRT the bullpen) but I already feel better about postseason matchups. Don’t stop now boys!
I was at today’s game. What a thrill. It was part of the birthday celebrations for both my kids. We had seats in the shade above the Sox dugout. The weather was perfect. We were one seeing-eye single from seeing a perfect game. Timmy and Yoyo went deep. Prior to the game we gorged on Antique Tacos. My daughter, GrinnellKate, kept saying she had the best dad ever. (Clearly, she’s right.) The crowd was large and into it. Jerry has no excuse for not investing in this team. I started the day in Marion, IN and ended it in Grinnell, IA with an incredible diversion in between. Great, great day. I’m still buzzing.
I’m from out of town and rarely make it to games. The last time I was at Sox park was five years ago. I was in town this past Saturday and Sunday, so I was lucky enough to catch those two games. What games they were! Both were incredible experiences.
You are living a charmed life for those to be your only 2 games in the past 5 years!
My only games at Guaranteed Rate… I did see them lose to the Red Sox in Fenway in 2019 and I was at both games in Cincinnati this year. They went 1-1 in Cincinnati, but I got to see Dylan Cease get three hits and Liam Hendriks run the bases so that was fun, too.
Impressive home games and fun road games.
Out of curiosity, I went to the SB nation Astros blog to see the comments after Sunday’s game to see their reactions given the mild panic most of us had Friday.
Sure enough, this little two game thumping put quite a bit of fear into these guys, especially after they were shut down by they Yankees just before the break.
We definitely need another reliever (although Cease will be a nice addition there), but if our top 3 starters pitch like this in the playoffs (and Eloy / Robert are back and performing) this team will be scary to play.
After the back and forth I had on here with several gloom and doomers who think the White Sox don’t match up with the Astros and Rays and God knows who else (someone even said we were closer to the Mariners and Indians than we were to the top teams), I decided I was done with this site. I am not going to argue anymore with people who actually think the Sox are an average team. This is a championship-caliber team!! Against a team which some of you think compares offensively to the 27 Yankees, here is the line of the 3 White Sox starters:
21.2 IP, 10H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 28K
And our probable Game 1 starter, Lance Lynn didn’t pitch. The Astros got most of their runs in the series against struggling relievers who, unless Bummer turns it around, will not pitch in the playoffs. And 2 of the ER were a direct result of Leury, who will probably never see the field in the playoffs. So go ahead and say I’m drinking the kool-aid (and you know who I’m talking about). This team is one of the top teams in the majors, and they were without 3 of their top players, who in all likelihood will be back well before the playoffs start.
As Jason so correctly stated above, the Astros fans are really scared. They do NOT want to face Lynn, Rodon and Giolito in the playoffs, with Cease coming out of the pen to strike everyone out. And I don’t think anyone else wants to either. And if the Lance Lynn extension says anything, it’s likely that Jerry will spend/add more to get this team over the top. I fully expect them to add a quality 2nd baseman (Story, Frazier or Escobar)and at least 1 quality reliever. And it wouldn’t surprise me to see them add a right fielder. It sure sounds like Starling Marte will now be available since the Marlins miserably failed in trying to low-ball him into an extension. Or they can package Gavin Sheets, Jared Kelley and others to get Gallo.
So I’m done with you naysayers. I hope those of you who think like me stand up to their nonsense and continue to be positive about this thoroughly enjoyable team. GO SOX!!
I hope you’ll reconsider, @roke1960. I enjoy having you around and we aren’t all naysayers! So, a counter-proposal: be done with the naysayers and not all of us.
Thanks, Frank. I appreciate it. I just need to ignore the naysayers, but when they put out that nonsense, I just can’t be quiet.
Good grief. I’m not going to tell you not to take your ball and go home. If you can’t share the community with people who come here for analysis then that is on you.
Fangraphs has started their trade value series. 2 Sox players show up in the 41-50 list
After this past weekend I’m convinced. Sign Rodon right damn now