White Sox starting pitchers have been much more consistent in July, and Miguel Gonzalez continued that trend on Wednesday night.
The right-hander delivered seven scoreless innings, and the White Sox closed out their fifth straight series victory with a 5-0 win over the New York Yankees in front of 21,144 at U.S. Cellular Field. Gonzalez made his best White Sox start to date as he and two relievers combined on an eight-hit shutout. Tim Anderson doubled in two runs.
“The pitching's been great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We scuffled for a little while. But I think when you're looking at it and we're trying to figure out where we're at heading into the break, I think we've been on a pretty good run. These guys have gathered it back together, and they're strong right now.”
They haven’t been picture-perfect as evidenced by Carlos Rodon’s struggles on Tuesday night. But after a long June, White Sox starters have shown signs of rebounding over the last six games. Starting with Gonzalez’s previous turn Friday in Houston, White Sox starters have a 3.00 ERA in 39 innings.
The team’s starters went 6-11 with a 5.97 ERA in 26 starts in June. They averaged 5 2/3 innings in the month and only completed seven innings six times. Four of the team’s last six starting efforts have gone at least seven innings.
“Every guy that goes out there, as a team you get a sense that you have a chance to go out there and win a series and win every night,” Ventura said.
Early on that sentiment seemed unclear as Gonzalez, who brought a 7.84 home ERA in four starts into Wednesday, struggled. He put two runners on base in the first, including a two-out walk of Brian McCann. But Gonzalez, who allowed two earned runs in seven innings on Friday, struck out Mark Teixeira with a 2-2 fastball to escape the jam. The strikeout began a span in which Gonzalez retired nine of 11 hitters.
One key for Gonzalez was strong defense.
Adam Eaton, who picked up his major league leading 13th assist when he cut down Jacoby Ellsbury stretching a leadoff single into a double in the third, Anderson and Jose Abreu all turned in nice plays.
“Gonzo pitched a heck of a game tonight, kept them off balance the whole game, hit his spots well and good defense behind him,” Eaton said. “When there’s good defense played behind Gonzo, he’ll throw good for you. He threw really well, and we’re really happy with that.”
Gonzalez, who lowered his ERA to 4.39, didn’t run into trouble again until the fifth inning. Didi Gregorious singled to start the fifth and went from first to third on Chase Headley’s grounder as third was left uncovered by a defensive shift. But Gonzalez induced a pop up off Aaron Hicks’ bat, and Ellsbury grounded out. Gonzalez retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced.
He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out three.
The White Sox did the bulk of their damage against Michael Pineda in the second inning, all with two outs.
Avisail Garcia broke a scoreless tie with a two-out RBI single to score Brett Lawrie, who started the rally with a single. J.B. Shuck’s ground-rule double produced a run. Anderson then made it a 4-0 game with a two-run double past the dive of Headley.
Lawrie’s RBI fielder’s choice in the sixth made it a five-run lead.
“We came out, played some really good defense,” Gonzalez said. “Our offense was there. I kept them in the ballgame, did a really good job changing speeds. (Dioner) Navarro did an awesome job back there.
“We have won five series in a row. ... Guys are loose right now and getting after it.”