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For the second consecutive series, the White Sox overcame an ugly opener to take a series against a team they should beat two out of three.
This time, the offense’s effort was something short of sustainable, but Lance Lynn finally looked like the real deal. Even a 65-minute rain delay couldn’t throw him off course, as he struck out eight without a walk over six innings. He allowed just one run on a Bobby Witt Jr. solo shot, with the other three hits harmless singles. He avoided getting dragged into marathon plate appearances, throwing just 89 pitches, with 57 strikes. Seventeen of those were whiffs, good for his second-best total of the year.
Had the skies not opened up in the bottom of the second inning, Tony La Russa probably would’ve had Lynn start the seventh. As it stood, it was already asking enough of Lynn to throw six innings around the stoppage.
The White Sox made it easier on him with a big early cushion, even if they couldn’t quite finish Brady Singer themselves. Eleven of their 12 hits were singles, including three base hits — the last one an RBI single by Yoán Moncada — that gave them a quick 1-0 lead after one.
José Abreu delivered the game’s only big blow in the third, as he is wont to do in his favorite month. Tim Anderson opened the inning with a single, and Eloy Jiménez muscled a broken-bat liner to left two batters later. Up came Abreu, who fouled off a good sinker down and in, then laid off a sinker up and in. When Singer left a third sinker on the outer half of the plate, Abreu pounced and redirected it several rows deep in the right-center seats for a 4-0 lead.
Singer induced double plays to thwart other promising scoring opportunities. Tim Anderson bounced into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play in the fourth, and after three singles loaded the bases to start the fifth, the threat evaporated when Moncada struck out and A.J. Pollock grounded into another 6-4-3.
The lack of insurance meant that La Russa had to use his winning bullpen. Fortunately, Jake Diekman backed up his talk about pitching whenever asked by throwing his second perfect outing in as many days. Kendall Graveman struck out the side in the eighth inning around a one-out walk, and after the Sox stranded two more in the eighth, Liam Hendriks recorded a perfect ninth on 11 pitches for his 21st save.
*The Sox were just 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position, but the Royals were 0-for-1.
*Jiménez had three more hits, and has raised his average from .239 to .291 in three August games.
*Minnesota and Cleveland both won, so the White Sox kept pace at two games behind first, and one game out of second.
*The Sox are two games over .500 for the first time since April 20, when they were 6-4.