SEATTLE -- Derek Holland was gifted a big early lead on Sunday afternoon and knew just how to handle it.
The veteran picked up the pace, put his defense to work and helped the White Sox cruise to an 8-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners in front of 36,782 at Safeco Field. Holland pitched a season-high eight innings as the White Sox won their third straight and clinched a series victory over the struggling Mariners. The White Sox scored five first-inning runs and didn’t look back as they outscored Seattle 24-2 in the final two games of the series.
“We were able to take advantage of a few things there early,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Holland did a nice job of continuing to pitch and minimizing anything that might go on. I thought we had some nice defensive plays, a couple double plays again. The lone run was a homer by Cruzy, but other than that I thought everybody did what they needed to do.
“He just held it.”
Already in the midst of a nice season, Holland put together his best outing to date against a Seattle lineup that dearly misses Robinson Cano and was without Danny Valencia. Holland induced double plays in the first, third, fifth and sixth innings to help him navigate through the seventh for the first time this season.
Yolmer Sanchez played a big role with several nice defensive efforts. He helped turn a 6-4-3 double play in the first inning and then raced into shallow center field to track down Dan Vogelbach’s two-out pop up, a play on which a run would have scored had the ball dropped.
But Sanchez’s best effort came in the third inning when he ran Tuffy Gosewisch back toward first on a tweener, fired to first in time to get Jarrod Dyson, and participated in a rundown to tag out Gosewisch.
“It was huge,” Holland said. “They're making the plays. When you're keeping them on their toes, they're going to get anything that's hit to them and stuff. I thought the guys were ready to go. You've got to tip your cap to Yolmer for doing such a good job out there. Good job, Yolmer.”
Holland filled up the strike zone and looked at ease. The left-hander lowered his earned-run average to 2.47 after limiting Seattle to a run and six hits with two walks and six strikeouts. He threw strikes on 70 of 105 pitches.
The White Sox offense put Holland into a comfortable spot with a five-run first inning.
Sanchez keyed that effort, too.
Up from Triple-A Tacoma, Mariners emergency starter Chris Heston walked three of the first five White Sox hitters he faced. Sanchez then put the White Sox ahead for good with a two-out, two-run single.
Then they hit a bunch of bleeders to break the contest open.
Tim Anderson, who had three hits, eeked one to the right side of the infield for an RBI single. Matt Davidson blooped another in to right to make it 4-0 and Kevan Smith’s groundball with eyes made it 5-0.
“It feels really good when you score a lot of runs,” Sanchez said. “That’s good for us, for the pitcher, he can pitch without feeling pressure.”
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Anderson made it a 6-0 contest in the third inning with a solo shot, his fifth. Smith doubled and scored on Jose Abreu’s double play in the fourth and Davidson singled in another run in the fifth.
The effort came on the heels of a 16-1 victory over Seattle on Saturday night. The White Sox did so much damage to the Mariners’ pitching staff that they disrupted the team’s Sunday plans. Dillon Overton, who was supposed to pitch Sunday as part of a bullpen start, threw 69 pitches in relief of Yovani Gallardo on Saturday. With the staff already down four of five starting pitchers from its original rotation, Seattle promoted Heston.
“We’ve been swinging the heck out of the bats,” Anderson said. “We just have to keep it going and have fun with it. When we swing the bats we can do some damage.”