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It only took eight pitches for Houston to demonstrate their offensive prowess and the White Sox their defensive shortfalls.
It took until the eighth inning for the White Sox offense to come alive. Living up to the saying “Better late than never,” a four-run outburst late gave the White Sox a comeback win over the Astros.
Tonight’s game started with Josh Harrison committing an error after Mauricio Dubon’s leadoff single to put Johnny Cueto in a jam. Yordan Alvarez’s deep drive stayed in the park for a sacrifice fly, and Alex Bergman followed it up with an RBI double. Very quickly, the White Sox were down 2-0.
AJ Pollock led off the White Sox first inning with a single, but the next base hit wouldn’t come again until Eloy Jimenez’s fourth-inning single. Jose Abreu followed up with another single, but the scoring threat was squashed when Yasmani Grandal grounded into a 3-6-1 double play.
After a turbulent first inning, Cueto found his groove retiring 11 out of 12 Astros hitters at one point to keep it a two-run game. He found himself in a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning after allowing singles to Dubon and Gurriel and then plunked Alvarez with a pitch.
Luckily, Cueto saw Bregman pop out in foul territory ending the threat. After five innings, Cueto was only at 65 pitches. Meanwhile, Jose Urquidy wasn’t far off at 70 pitches, only allowing harmless singles. One of those singles was wiped away when Harrison got thrown out attempting to steal second. Watching the play unfold, Harrison looked back to home plate, expecting Sheets to swing, suggesting a hit-and-run was on. It wasn’t, and either Harrison or Sheets misread the call.
White Sox had another scoring opportunity in the seventh inning. Abreu lined another single, and instead of hitting into a double play, Grandal got hit by a pitch. But Moncada flew out to left field, and Harrison popped out in the infield.
Entering the eighth inning, Cueto was still on the mound at 90 pitches. Manager Tony La Russa didn’t have anyone warming in the bullpen, so it wouldn’t be a quick hook. Lucky for La Russa, Cueto only needed nine pitches to sit down Alvarez, Bregman, and Tucker. Last out, Cueto posed on the mound after striking out Tucker.
Urquidy almost matched Cueto in innings pitched quickly, getting Sheets and Garcia out. When Pollock reached on infield single thanks to Bregman missing the barehand attempt, Astros manager Dusty Baker saw enough. With Vaughn batting, he called for Rafael Montero out of the bullpen.
On a 2-2 pitch, Vaughn got enough on a fly ball to slice down the right field line. Pollock slowed down, heading to second base thinking it was just a single before third base coach Joe McEwing waved him over. The two-out double set up Jimenez with runners in scoring position.
After swinging through two pitches, Jimenez did not miss on the third as he hit a rocket past Bregman for a two-run double. Finally, Cueto got run support thanks to the two-out rally.
Eventually, the Astros decided to walk Abreu to face Grandal intentionally. While that was the smart play, Montero’s struggles continued as he walked Grandal, loading the bases for Moncada.
It only took one pitch for Moncada to change the outcome. Hitting a laser single to center field scored two more runs giving the White Sox a 4-2 lead. The 18,000 fans sounded like 38,000 as Guaranteed Rate Field rocked in celebration.
Now managing with a lead, La Russa had Liam Hendriks replace Cueto. The veteran did his job throwing a gem: 8 IP 6 H 2 R 1 ER 1 BB 3 K.
With one out, Hendriks walked Trey Mancini, and Baker went to his bench calling for Jose Altuve to pinch hit. In last year’s ALDS Game 4, Altuve crushed a home run off Hendriks, but all he could muster tonight was a fly out to right field.
Baker went back to the bench calling for Christian Vazquez to pinch hit, another of Houston’s mid-season acquisitions. Vazquez singled to right field, putting more pressure on Hendriks. White Sox closer didn’t buckle, as Hendriks would get Dubon to pop out to Abreu.
An improbable two-out rally in the eighth inning delivered one of this season’s best White Sox wins. A great start to a critical week of the season.
- Cleveland split a doubleheader against Detroit and Minnesota beat Kansas City. Both the White Sox and Twins gain a half-game on the Guardians in the AL Central standings.
- Eloy Jimenez, AJ Pollock, and Jose Abreu all had two hits.
- Liam Hendriks now has 26 saves tying him with Jordan Romano of the Blue Jays, and one save behind Emmanuel Clase.