Astros 2, White Sox 1: Swept for the season

Marwin Gonzalez's two-strike safety squeeze drives in the deciding run

Last year, when the Astros won their first-ever World Series title, White Sox fans could snark that, by beating the Astros in the season series, their 67-win team was the true champion.

This year … not so much. Houston swept the season series 7-0, and a two-strike bunt of all things decided this one.

With Marwin Gonzalez at the plate and a runner on third with one out in the seventh, A.J. Hinch opted for Rick Renteria’s favorite move by calling for the safety squeeze. Gonzalez pulled back on a pitch down the middle for strike zone, then fouled back another buntable pitch for strike two, putting Gonzalez in a major disadvantage.

But even with a two-strike count, Gonzalez was undeterred. When Giolito came with a fastball up and over the plate on the third pitch, Gonzalez squared late and dropped one right between the mound and home. Yuli Gurriel scored easily from third, and the Astros had the second run they needed to take the seventh and final game of the season series.

Giolito was tagged with the hard-luck loss, because he came within two outs of throwing the Sox’ first complete game in the rebuild era. He walked the first batter he faced and plunked the second one to give his start a familiar beginning, but when he bounced back with a pair of grounders — the second an inning-ending 4-3 double play — it suggested that he might be able to correct himself quicker.

Sure enough, he held the Astros to just seven runners — three hits, three walks, one HBP — over 7⅓ innings.

Unfortunately, two of those hits were for extra bases to start innings. Jose Altuve broke open both the hit and run columns for Houston on the first pitch of the fourth. It was a thigh-high slider on the inner half, and Altuve hammered it out to left to continue his torrid series. The Astros hit three more line drives that inning, but they were flagged down in left, right and center to limit the damage.

Likewise, Gurriel started the seventh by lining an 0-1 changeup off the left-field wall for a double. A lineout to center moved Gurriel to third, and the bunt brought him home.

Dallas Keuchel allowed twice as many hits as Giolito, but half as many runs. He had the sinker working, pitching around six hits and three walks over seven innings by inducing a whopping 16 groundouts. That sinker must’ve been in the heads of Sox hitters, because they seemed surprised by pitches that Keuchel elevated, either on mistake or on purpose. They were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, and they scored their only run in the seventh via manufacturing.

Yoan Moncada led off with a single through the left side — boosting his average against left-handed pitching — and moved to second on Yolmer Sanchez’s walk. Adam Engel bunted them both over, and Tim Anderson lifted a fly to right to get Moncada home. Daniel Palka ended the inning with Keuchel’s 16th groundout, and the Astros regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh.

Bullet points:

*Avisail Garcia left this game with hamstring tightness suffered while running out a grounder in the fifth.

*Giolito only got eight swinging strikes on 100 pitches, but he seemed to find Keuchel’s wavelength by getting good results with a two-seamer. He induced 12 groundouts and a double play.

*The Sox played errorless defense, and Yolmer Sanchez took a single away from George Springer with a fine play behind third base.

Record: 30-60 | Box score

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Another miserable summer courtesy of Hahn & Co.


Moncada still hitting even from the other side, errorless defense, Giolito efficient deep start, Tim getting the job done with a sac fly to tie it. Sounds like a “rebuild win” to me and I’ll take it


Two posts and six vote-ups?  U on fire Anohito!


Welcome to Washington, starting AL All-Star 1B Jose Abreu.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Did we get Robles? Oh, wait…