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The saying is that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. The White Sox seem to have taken that to heart, except the impact of a strong finish is reduced when it merely addresses the deficit the start created.
Regardless, the White Sox were able to leave Globe Life Field with a split, and with a sorely needed convincing offensive performance against a pedestrian righty.
Spencer Howard came into this game with a 6.82 ERA thanks in large part to 11 homers over 34⅓ innings, and now it’s up to 7.41 and 12 homers over 37⅔ innings. The White Sox pestered him with singles early, then started hitting the ball harder upon their second and third looks.
Lucas Giolito almost ran into Michael Kopech’s third-inning problems from Saturday, but a baserunning blunder by Corey Seager gave him an extra life, and he took advantage of it by pitching well enough to win.
The White Sox’s offense was feast-or-famine when looking at the box score. Five White Sox hitters had multi-hit games, including three-hit days for AJ Pollock, José Abreu, Andrew Vaughn and Leury García. Three White Sox hitters went hitless, although Seby Zavala was the only one who duffed it (0-for-5 with four strikeouts).
But when you have that many guys making quality contact, it’s basically impossible to not sequence it successfully. Sure enough, the 8-9-1-2-3-4-5 part of the lineup went 15-for-33, and that’ll win most games, even though the “9” was Zavala’s dud.
The big games were plentiful:
*AJ Pollock went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles from the leadoff spot in place of the suspended Tim Anderson. All three hits were line drives with exit velocities above 103 mph.
*Andrew Vaughn contributed the long ball off Howard, a picturesque two-run shot over the faraway wall in left center to give the White Sox a 3-0 lead in the second. He also posted two other singles.
*Leury García was an oasis of production at the bottom of the order, coming up with three hits (including a double) and scoring twice.
*Joe McEwing succeeded on two aggressive sends, getting Luis Robert home from second despite a sluggish read on an Eloy Jiménez single, then sending García from second on an E5 throwing error that caromed into right-field foul territory.
You know it’s good when José Abreu only merits an honorable mention for his three singles, which raised his average to .300.
On the pitching side, Lucas Giolito lowered his ERA below 5 (4.91) with five innings of one-run ball, but he didn’t have it easy. He didn’t record a single 1-2-3 inning, and had the White Sox not staked him to a 6-1 lead, he might not have been a great candidate to start the fifth, what with 94 pitches on his tab and facing the Texas lineup for a third time.
The third inning was especially hairy. He threw 36 pitches to seven batters, but it only resulted in one run, when Nathaniel Lowe dropped a single into right field that put runners on the corners with one out.
Adolis Garcia followed with a smoked liner to right, and AJ Pollock was able to keep it from touching turf with a good read and grab. Seager should have scored easily on the play, but he drifted toward home instead of tagging up, and while Pollock’s throw home wasn’t on the mark, it was a deterrent for Seager’s late effort at making amends.
That kept the score 3-1, and while Giolito jeopardized it by walking Jonah Heim to load the bases, he got Meibrys Viloria to ground out to second to end the game’s last great threat. The Rangers finally scored that second run in the seventh inning in the form of a gargantuan 452-foot homer by Lowe off Jake Diekman, but that only made it a six-run game.
*Yoán Moncada had one of the hitless games to drag his average below .200, but at least he contributed a fine sliding stop to cut down the lead runner, as well as a bases-loaded walk.
*Vaughn played first and overstepped his bounds by trying to stop a grounder that was an easier play for Josh Harrison, only to knock it down without being able to recover it.
*Pollock was cut down at third by Seager with an ill-advised decision on a grounder in front of him, but it didn’t alter the outcome.
*The Twins lost in controversial fashion while the Guardians beat the Astros 1-0, so one game separates first and second place, and second and third place.