White Sox

Avisail Garcia busts out of mini-slump in White Sox win

Avisail Garcia busts out of mini-slump in White Sox win

Avisail Garcia’s longest mini-slump of the season ended against his former team on Friday night.

Guessing nobody in Detroit is surprised. Same group probably isn’t overly shocked by Mike Pelfrey’s performance, either.

Both players came back to haunt their former team on a lengthy, rainy day as Garcia’s three-run double put Pelfrey ahead for good. Pelfrey escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and his offense erupted late as the White Sox toppled the Detroit Tigers 8-2 in front of 17,842 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Pelfrey allowed two runs (one earned) and Matt Davidson and Melky Cabrera both homered as the White Sox snapped a three-game losing streak. The teams canceled the opening game of a doubleheader and sat through an 85-minute rain delay before playing the nightcap. The doubleheader was rescheduled for Saturday and both games will be on CSN.

“I have a lot of respect for those guys,” Pelfrey said. “Those guys were great. You make friendships and you have to compete against them. It makes it tough but it’s part of the game.

The first time I faced them I put my hat down and tried not to look at them or make eye contact and try to get guys out. Make pitches.

“Luckily it worked out today.”

There was nothing lucky about Garcia’s third-inning, go-ahead double. Garcia had gone hitless in 13 at-bats dating back to his final plate appearance in Saturday night’s blowout win over Seattle. The four games without a hit (he was intentionally walked in his only plate appearance Tuesday) is the longest Garcia has gone without a knock in what has begun to look like a breakout season.

Part of the stretch could be attributed to flu-like symptoms Garcia felt throughout the previous series which resulted in him being scratched from Tuesday’s starting lineup — “in Arizona it was really, really bad,” he said.

Despite still feeling the lingering effects, Garcia came through yet again. With the bases loaded and two outs, Garcia ripped a 1-0 changeup from Detroit’s Tyler Boyd into the left-field corner to score all three runners and give the White Sox a 3-1 lead. Cabrera and Jose Abreu both singled with two outs and Todd Frazier walked ahead of the double, which exited Garcia’s bat at 114.5 mph, the 24th hardest-hit ball this season in the majors, according to BaseballSavant.com.

Garcia also bounced a pair of singles through the left side to finish 3-for-5. Acquired from the Tigers in July 2013 as part of the three-way deal that sent Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox, Garcia is slashing .295/.338/.481 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs against his former team in 228 plate appearances.

“I see them like another team, you know,” Garcia said. “My job is to try to help my team win.

“I was just trying not to do too much, I’m trying to see the ball and put a good swing on it. I think that’s it. Don’t try to do too much because sometimes when I’m trying to do too much or trying to hit it over the wall my face goes quick so I don’t see the ball really well.”

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Seems like Abreu has seen everything thrown his way recently. He extended his hitting streak to seven games with three singles, all of which were rockets off the bat, and finished 3-for-5.

Cabrera has also begun to heat up. His two-out RBI single in the sixth and three-run homer in the eighth provided the White Sox with plenty of margin for error. Cabrera finished 3-for-5.

Davidson’s homer in the sixth inning, his ninth, made it a 4-2 game. He finished with two hits for the White Sox, who had 14.

Pelfrey looked good in a second straight start. He followed up a six-inning effort at Seattle by limiting a Detroit lineup sans Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera to four hits. Pelfrey walked one and struck out seven in an 86-pitch performance.

That included a fourth-inning escape from a one-out jam with the bases loaded. Pelfrey got the first out when Davidson threw home to cut down J.D. Martinez. Abreu also forced a runner out at the plate on John Hicks’ grounder and Pelfrey induced an Andrew Romine comebacker to complete the escape.

Pelfrey went 4-10 with a 5.07 ERA in 24 games (22 starts) for Detroit in 2016 and was in the final season of a two-year, $16-million deal when they released him on March 30. The White Sox signed the veteran right-hander to a minor-league deal on April 5. He improved to 2-4 and lowered his ERA to 4.41.

Chris Beck, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle and Gregory Infante combined for four scoreless innings to close it out.

“Any time you can get a win and, I guess, sit around for 12 hours or however long it’s been,” Pelfrey said. “It’s always good to come out on top.

“I’d like to have gone a little deeper, but the bullpen did a great job like always. Melky, big hit. And Avisail, pretty big hit there in the third.

“Pretty good team win.”

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson turned 24 on Saturday and celebrated the occasion with a bang.

Anderson smashed a three-run home run in the first inning against the A's. It was actually his first swing on his birthday. Anderson took the first two pitches before launching the 1-1 pitch over the right field fence.

That home run, Anderson's 13th of the year, gave the White Sox a 5-0 lead. Things took an ugly turn later in the game with Oakland winning 7-6. Dylan Covey left in the fifth with a hip injury, which manager Rick Renteria said will be evaluated tomorrow to determine the severity of the injury.

Anderson finished 2-for-4 on his birthday. He later added a single, a stolen base and a run in the sixth inning.

Anderon's power surge this year has him on pace to blow past his 17 homers from a year ago. He is four shy of last year's total and has done so in just under half as many plate appearances.

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.