White Sox

Great offensive response lifts White Sox to victory

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Great offensive response lifts White Sox to victory

SEATTLE -- Come for the pitching, stay for the offense.

Chris Sale was outstanding yet again on Friday night in an 11-4 White Sox victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. But just as impressive was a White Sox offense that knocked Felix Hernandez out after six laborious innings and continued to work counts and drive in runs late in the game.

Both Sale and manager Robin Ventura were particularly impressed by a four-run rally in the eighth inning after Mark Trumbo’s three-run blast in the seventh got the Mariners within a run.

“To respond like that was great,” Ventura said. “(Carlos) Sanchez had another big one in there to push it ahead and the two-out ones are always big. Any time you get a two-out RBIs is a big one and we got a couple of them.”

[MORE: Chris Sale strikes out 14 more as White Sox rout Mariners]

The White Sox had six two-out hits, all from the sixth inning on with five accounting for runs.

But what was even more impressive was how quickly the White Sox rebounded after Trumbo’s blast, one that Sale said “traveled a good mile.”

Melky Cabrera singled to start the eighth and Adam LaRoche doubled with one out. Alexei Ramirez, Carlos Sanchez and Tyler Flowers all drew walks, the latter two pushing across runs as the White Sox made it a 6-3 game. Tyler Saladino singled in two with two outs to put the White Sox, who sent nine men to the plate in the inning, ahead by five runs.

Then in the ninth, Sanchez, who had earlier doubled in two runs off Hernandez to make it 4-0, doubled in another to make it a 9-3 game. Sanchez established a career-high with four RBIs. Flowers, who reached three times in five trips,singled in two more to give the White Sox an eight-run cushion.

“For our guys to get four runs off (Hernandez), it says a lot,” Sale said. “Same thing, I go right back out there and give up three and that can kind of deflate a team and we kind of took off after that. It says a lot about the guys we have in here and the team we have.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Jose Abreu -- who has 27 RBIs in 29 games -- got the White Sox on the board in the fourth inning when he doubled to right center off Hernandez toscore Saladino, who went 3-for-5. Adam Eaton also singled in a run in the fifth off Hernandez, who allowed four earned runs and nine hits over six innings.

A night after they scored eight to avoid a four-game sweep in Anaheim, the White Sox produced their fourth double-digit run performance of the season as every starter got a base hit. Three of those showings have come in the second half.

For a team that has played in one- or two-run games in nine of its last 14 contests, the additional breathing room was helpful, Flowers said.

“We know our bullpen is very capable of holding down anybody but to get a little more cushion, give a little more leniency to them and to me calling the game, you’re able to get more aggressive and trust our defense,” Flowers said. “We don’t have to be perfect on every pitch. Much less stressful. Appreciate it.”

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.