Long drives that are doubles at best, hampering the ability to pull off a quick strike. Costly errors in the field that dig holes and eliminate the pitching staff’s margin for error. A sequence of rough, rougher and roughest showings at home that demoralize the fan base.
The White Sox have been that team for so many series. This time, they were the team playing that team. They took up the Giants on their defensive generosity early, then pounded the front end of the bullpen later en route to a sorely needed sweep at Oracle Park. The blowout, which was capped off by an uninterested position player pitching, was well timed, since Joe Kelly and Kendall Graveman both pitched in the first two games of this series.
The Sox never trailed, and they jumped ahead 2-0 in the third inning because Donovan Walton threw a standard 6-4-3 double play ball into left field, which gave the runners a second life on second and third. Andrew Vaughn struck out, but Luis Robert picked him up with a two-run single for the game’s first runs.
Seby Zavala came up with an RBI single an inning later to make it 3-0, and when Wilmer Flores threw away a makeable play on an Andrew Vaughn grounder to start the fifth, that’s when the game slowly slid into the cove. Luis Robert singled, and José Abreu followed with a weird two-hopper that deflected off a diving Walton to load the bases for Gavin Sheets.
Gabe Kapler tried playing the matchup by bringing in Sammy Long, but Sheets foiled the move with his first extra-base hit off a lefty in his 38th plate appearance, shooting a double down the left-field line that cleared the bases for a 6-0 lead.
Lucas Giolito, who opened his start by with seven consecutive outs by strikeout and didn’t fan anybody the rest of the way, briefly encountered trouble in the sixth when Austin Slater singled and Joc Pederson hit a 414-foot drive that stayed in the park only because of the specific park in which they were playing.
But Josh Harrison flagged down a shallow fly in the triangle in right center for the first of three unproductive outs that limited the Giants to one run, and medium leverage never came into play. The only disappointment was that Vince Velasquez couldn’t finish the game himself. He picked up after Matt Foster’s scoreless seventh with a scoreless eighth, but he gave up four consecutive one-out doubles in the ninth that prompted Tony La Russa to call for José Ruiz. Yermín Mercedes hit one of those doubles, and that’s because Velasquez threw him four consecutive pitches below 90 mph.
Fortunately, the Sox had run up the score by then. The Sox opened the eighth inning against Yunior Marte by reaching with five straight, and all five came around to score. Austin Wynns then moved from behind the plate to the mound, and the Sox tacked on two more against his array of 40-50 mph floaters.
*Leury García and Zavala each capped off three-hit games with hits off Wynn. García scored three runs, Zavala drove in three.
*In between them, Harrison reached four times from the eighth spot and scored three runs.
*The White Sox went 8-for-21 with runners in scoring position.
*Giolito’s ERA is back below 5.00 (4.90) after allowing one run on three hits and two walks over six.
*The White Sox did not hit a homer all series.