The White Sox extended their winning streak to a season-long four games on the strength of a couple performances that harkened back to games of yore.
You had Lucas Giolito using his best fastball of the season to hold the Yankees hitless through six innings, which is the second time he’s thrown six hitless this season.
He was backed by Seby Zavala, who caught that excellent performance and drove in all three White Sox runs on a pair of homers. One was only possible in Yankee Stadium, and the other would’ve went out anywhere.
Zavala had homered three times in a game before, which is what made the outburst merely unlikely, rather than unthinkable. But he also entered the game with a .424 OPS, so the contribution registered as the most pleasant of surprises.
Together, they did enough to provide enough of a cushion to absorb blows from a couple of disappointing events later in the game.
The White Sox lost the no-hitter and shutout in the seventh when Luis Robert Jr. stopped short on an Isiah Kiner-Falefa fly ball he should’ve caught in the left-center gap. He and Andrew Benintendi were both in pursuit, and both peeled off. Benintendi did so several steps short of the ball. Robert didn’t actually stop running, but his upper body quit on the play.
The ball dropped at Robert’s feet, instead of a third out, Joe Kelly’s two-out walk came around to score on a “double” to make it a 3-1 game.
Kendall Graveman pitched a scoreless eighth to hand the ball off to Liam Hendriks, who promptly gave up a solo shot to Josh Donaldson on his first pitch. From that point, he leaned more on the slider, and ended up closing out the save with three groundouts to short.
(Watching Hendriks huff and puff through terrible air quality reminded me of his issues pitching at altitude in Colorado.)
Despite the late bumps, the White Sox had still done enough to ensure that they’d never trail at any point in the evening.
Giolito was outstanding, averaging 94 mph on his fastball with excellent command. He only got two swinging strikes with it, but he racked up 15 called strikes, and three of his seven strikeouts were backwards K’s. He allowed only a handful of hard-hit balls, but didn’t face anything resembling a threat.
If he could’ve done anything differently, he probably would’ve liked to improve his slider command. It did get him seven of his 10 whiffs, but he also missed his spot by plenty with it. The changeup wasn’t doing much for him, either, and the lack of a classic putaway pitch is what caused his pitch count to rise to 100 over just six innings.
The other half of the battery picked up the slack on the other side of the ball. He was the only one who could lift Clarke Schmidt with any authority, although his first homer — a 320-foot shank that wouldn’t find seats in 29 of the other 30 MLB parks — barely registered as a hard-hit ball (95.4 mph).
You could call the second homer an ESPN documentary, because it was 30-for-30. After Romy González flared a single to left to keep the inning alive, Zavala watched an outside-corner cutter for strike one, then took a breaking ball off the plate to even the count.
On the third pitch, Schmidt grooved a cutter over the heart of the plate, and Zavala became a Bleacher Creature reacher with a 435-foot bomb that made it 3-0 in the fifth.
The less said about the White Sox lineup, the better. They had four other singles and a walk, but three of those baserunners were erased on double plays, including two by Eloy Jiménez. No White Sox reached second base all night, but fortunately Zavala redefined scoring position.
*The White Sox are now 4½ games out of first place after every other AL Central team lost. They hadn’t been within five games since April 22. They hadn’t been eight games under .500 since the day after that.
*The Yankees are going to place Aaron Judge in the injured list due to a contusion and sprain of his right big toe.
*Smoke from the Canadian wildfires created unhealthy air quality levels in New York.