BALTIMORE — Yesterday's rain could not stop the White Sox's winning parade. They came into Baltimore hot off a series win in Minnesota, and as pitching ruled in that series, the hitting found its spotlight in the opener of a four-game set against the Baltimore Orioles.
Coming into Maryland, the White Sox stood 7 ½ games out of first place in the AL Central, but only 2 ½ games back behind the Astros for the second spot in the wild card race.
Additionally, prior to tonight's ballgame, Kelvin Herrera was reinstated from the injured list, so right fielder Carmen Benedetti was sent down to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights.
Baltimore, 18-35, sits in last pace and are on a four-game losing streak. They sent out John Means (2-6, 8.54 ERA), who has yet to throw a quality start in his 10 starts this season, to square off against our ace, Lucas Giolito (1-0, 2.10 ERA).
The first two innings were awfully quiet in terms of offensive production, as both pitchers started the game strong. To lead off the third inning, however, Nick Madrigal started the scoring by launching a 378-foot home run, his fifth of the season, to left field.
The Sox did not score again until the fifth inning; as for Baltimore, well, they had to wait a bit longer before they saw their one and only run score. Yasiel Puig, Leury García, and Yoán Moncada all singled to extend the lead to 2-0. Of course, Eloy Jiménez, nothing new with him, launched a three-run blast 408 feet to left-center to give the Sox a 5-0 lead!
With that home run, Means was pulled from the game; although he had "meant" to pitch his first quality start of the season, he did not accomplish that task.
Giolito, on the other hand, was at the 50-pitch mark through five innings, where he only gave up five hits.
The Sox slumbered during the sixth inning, and in the seventh, missed out on a prime scoring chance. Eloy led off the inning with a double; however, he was thrown out at third trying to stretch the double into a triple. You never want to make the first out of the inning, or any out for that matter, at third base.
Giolito, however, got through the seventh inning by striking out the side.
Upset with the offense sleeping for the past few innings, it woke up in the eighth and ninth to finish the game strong!
Starting the top of the eighth, Puig walked and stole second. Madrigal drove him in with a double to extend the lead to 6-0. Then Leury Legend and YoYo walked back-to-back to load the bases. Eloy scored Madrigal on a sac fly to right, which moved Leury up to third base, but EE and Luis Robert struck out to keep the score at 7-0.
To start the bottom of the eighth, pinch-hitter José Rondón struck out, Giolito's fourth straight strikeout and 10th of the game.
Unfortunately, Chance Sisco ruined that streak when he homered off of an 0-2 pitch to right field. Fortunately, that was the only run the Orioles were going to score.
After that home run, Kelvin Herrera entered the game to relieve Giolito, who finished with a dazzling pitching line: 7 ⅓ innings, six hits, one run, two walks, and 10 strikeouts, all in 99 pitches.
Herrera secured the final outs of the eighth, and in fact finished the game cleanly.
Tim Anderson began the ninth inning with a leadoff single. He proceeded to steal second base, and Puig followed up with a walk. With TA7 and Yasiel on first, a double steal put ducks on the pond with zero outs.
With runners in scoring position, Madrigal launched his second home run of the game and his sixth of the season: a 435-foot shot to right-center! In the 10-1 drubbing, Baltimore ended up using eight pitchers in the game.
With the blowout win, the Sox improve to a 27-26 record and extended their winning streak to four. They've also surged up to 11th in the latest MLB power rankings. The South Siders sit seven games in back of Minnesota for first place in the AL Central and still 2 ½ games in back of the wild card.
The recently designated-for-assignment Cheslor Cuthbert cleared waivers, so he will report to Charlotte.
Tomorrow, the White Sox will go for their fifth-straight victory: Gio González (3-2, 4.47 ERA) will start for the Sox, and the Orioles will send out Hunter Harvey (0-1, 4.35 ERA). Let's go, OOTP-simulated White Sox!