White Sox

Twice is nice: White Sox turn second triple play of season

Twice is nice: White Sox turn second triple play of season

Although this one looked far more normal than the last, Dan Jennings had his doubts the White Sox would turn another triple play.

Lo and behold, the White Sox turned their second triple play in less than a month in a contest they dropped to the Houston Astros 5-3 on Wednesday night.

It’s the first time the White Sox have turned two triple plays in the same season and they’re the first team to accomplish the feat since the 2007 Philadelphia Phillies. Todd Frazier started the play when he fielded George Springer’s grounder, stepped on third base and immediately fired to second.

“My first thought when I saw Frazier going to second, I thought he was nuts,” Jennings said. “I thought he was going third to first, get two and move on. He went to second and obviously made the right call.”

Frazier said the three-outer is the first he’s been involved in like this. He also participated in the team’s 9-3-2-6-2-5 April 22 triple play against the Texas Rangers. But this one had a more normal look to it.

“That was a conventional triple play,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We like them all though.”

Jennings particularly liked it. He walked Tony Kemp and Jose Altuve on nine pitches to start the inning with the White Sox trailing by two. Springer swung at a first-pitch slider from Jennings and hit it directly to Frazier, who hopped to the base and didn’t hesitate to throw to second. Lawrie’s relay to first was in plenty of time to get the speedy Springer.

“It takes one pitch sometimes,” Frazier said. “I keep telling the pitchers when you get in a grind get us that groundball, let us play defense and let's work. And that's what we've been doing.”

But the White Sox couldn’t take advantage of any momentum gained. Astros relievers Will Harris and Luke Gregerson retired the final six men they faced to send the White Sox to their fourth straight loss.

Jennings enjoyed the experience but would have liked a win, too.

“You go from that to a 10-pitch inning,” Jennings said. “That’s unbelievable. Guys out there saving me pitches, saving me runs, saving me everything and keeps us in the game. Hats off to the fielders out there.”

“That’s fun. It sucks to lose, and that’s the end result. But something like that makes the game fun and keeps you in check that we are playing a game and you do have a little fun even in a loss.”

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.