A White Sox game finished with a margin of greater than four runs for the first time in June, and they ended up on the winning side of it.
Seby Zavala had one of his random multi-homer games amid a slew of other strong performances, as the White Sox posted a double-digit run total since May 26. Because Lucas Giolito recovered from a rocky first inning to throw seven strong, the White Sox could enjoy their first low-leverage finish since May 31.
Giolito and the White Sox bullpen made it a little messy in the last three innings, but you can forgive them for pitching to a score after finally getting a score to pitch to.
After walking 10 batters over eight innings on Tuesday, White Sox pitchers didn’t issue a walk until the eighth inning tonight. Lucas Giolito initially paid for filling up the zone — he gave up back-to-back triples to Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout (see bullet points for details) that wasted a 2-0 lead in the top of the first — but by the time he allowed his next two-spot in the form of solo shots in the seventh, the White Sox led by seven. He threw 66 of 98 pitches for strikes, dialing in the command of his secondary stuff after some missed spots in the first.
All the while, the White Sox could not stop scoring.
After Luis Robert Jr. hit a two-run blast to the lawn behind center field off Jaime Barria three batters into the first inning, Zavala took a first-pitch hanging slider out to left to regain the lead at 3-2. Eloy Jiménez made it three homers in three innings with a leadoff blast in the third, but two of the biggest hits stayed in the yard.
Andrew Vaughn followed Jiménez’s homer with a double, but while Gavin Sheets’ grounder to first moved Vaughn to third, Jake Burger’s groundout to third kept him there. Up came Zach Remillard, who couldn’t keep one of his trademarked bunts fair, only to drop a slider into the left-center gap for a two-out hustle-double RBI and a 5-2 lead.
Vaughn truly broke the game open an inning later. The Sox loaded the bases on an Andrew Benintendi single, a Tim Anderson walk, and an Eduardo Escobar stumble that Anderson capitalized on. He took an excellent secondary lead and break when Robert hit a one-hopper that Escobar fielded falling back. Escobar made an off-balance throw that, while on-target, lacked the ideal snap. Anderson beat the throw to second base, Robert beat out the attempted turn, and the Angels still had nobody out.
The Sox just blew this opportunity the night before with a strikeout and a double play, and when Jiménez struck out, the rally appeared to be in jeopardy.
Vaughn quieted those fears immediately, driving a first-pitch fastball into the left-center gap that cleared the bases and kicked the game out of reach. The Sox tacked on Zavala’s second homer in the fifth — a 46-degree fly ball that improbably landed on the fair side of the left-field foul pole despite the first-hand accounts thinking it was foul off the bat — and when Keynan Middleton got touched up for a run in the eighth, Zavala answered with his third-run scoring hit. He smashed a single through the left side to score Jake Burger (who doubled) and Remillard (who succeeded on another trademarked bunt attempt and stole second).
That turned out to be key, because Kendall Graveman loaded the bases on three hits in the ninth inning, and it didn’t matter. He threw 19 of 24 pitches for strikes, and that did.
*The White Sox pounded out 17 hits and drew four walks while striking out only four times.
*The 8-9-1 part of the order — Remillard, Zavala and Benintendi — reached base 10 times and scored five runs.
*Gavin Sheets helped Ohtani with his triple by not stopping the ball as it rattled around Angel Stadium’s curved right field corner. Benintendi played a Trout double into a triple by realizing too late that he was not going to be able to beat it to the warning track, and the carom shot past him.
*Robert and Sheets barely missed Brandon Drury’s solo shot in the seventh inning. It fell in between their gloves on the yellow stripe of the right-center wall and over.
*Anderson was the only starter without a hit, going 0-for-5. The walk and the hustle to second ended up being a big contribution, at least.