Riding a 5-2 road trip into the Chicago, the White Sox opened up a six-game homestand on Elvis Night against the Minnesota Twins on Friday. Despite Chris Sale‘s command being the worst we’ve seen in a long time, the ace pitched through it, kept the Sox in the game, and the offense overcame a poor showing by the bullpen to lead the Sox to a 10-8 victory.
Offense Steals the Show from Elvis
If you’ve been to Elvis Night, you know there’s a large amount of the crowd that’s there to see Elvis impersonators and skydivers jump in Elvis costumes rather than watch baseball. However, the White Sox offense made sure the crowd saw a better show than what they’d see post-game, as the squad pounded out 17 hits and plated four in the eighth inning to take a late lead.
The key to the night was persistency throughout the game and consistency throughout the lineup, as Logan Darnell found out. The Sox scored a run in six of the eight innings they came to the plate, with the first and seventh being the only exceptions. Also, every starter hit safely, and everyone aside from Gordon Beckham and Conor Gilaspie had multi-hit games.
For the second straight game, the opposing team was unable to retire Jose Abreu, who went 3-for-3 with a walk, hit by pitch, and RBI. The hitting streak now stands at 21 games, and if it wasn’t for an 0-for-3 showing against Felix Hernandez the game prior to the start of the streak, he’d have a streak of over 40 games.
Also, Adam Eaton is on a streak of his own, as two more hits last night put his hitting streak at eight games. He’s now had four straight multi-hit games and is hitting .447 (17-for-38) on the eight game streak. Tyler Flowers continues to roll as well, with two more hits and an RBI. Since the All-Star break, he’s at .447 (17-for-38), just like Eaton on his eight-game streak.
We saw two interesting wrinkles in last night’s lineup: Gordon Beckham hitting second and Moises Sierra getting the nod over Dayan Viciedo against a right-handed arm. While the Beckham idea is a head-scratcher (he did go 1-for-5 last night), Sierra had two hits and an RBI triple hitting out of the nine-hole. He’s 6-for-9 over the last two games and continues to improve his defense in right field, making a nice running catch on the warning track last night. With Viciedo struggling mightily, De Aza hovering around the .230 mark, and the trade deadline now passed, Sierra looks like he could get some regular at-bats with his good play. He’s now at .307 in 101 at-bats in a Sox uniform.
Sale Rough, Bullpen Rougher
While the stuff and velocity was there for Chris Sale last night (touching 96-98 on a consistent basis), his command was not. There’s just one walk and one hit by pitch to show for it, but Sale was behind in the count to most hitters the first three innings of the game and ended up in a lot of 3-ball situations. With that, he ended up allowing eight hits in six innings, with five runs (four earned, thanks to a passed ball from Flowers) charged to him.
Maybe it was the excitement pitching at home after a great road trip, or maybe Sale was excited about the post-game Elvis show. Whatever the reason was, Sale appeared to be overthrowing for the first time this season. The overthrowing led to hitters counts, which led to aiming his breaking pitches. Despite all of that, he still managed to just have the one bad inning (five-run third) and give the Sox a chance to win.
What happened after Sale was worse, as Daniel Webb and Eric Surkamp were last night’s bad bullpen culprits. Webb threw the seventh and actually stayed away from the walks (14 strikes in 18 pitches), but allowed two hits and an RBI single to Kurt Suzuki which at the time, tied the game at 6-6. In the eighth, Surkamp entered to face two straight lefties in Oswaldo Arcia and Chris Parmelee. While Arcia was retired, Parmelee took a pitch 408 ft. to take the lead.
Kurt Suzuki: The Ultimate Sox Killer
Javy Guerra would enter and finish the Twins off in the eighth, and Jake Petricka earned his seventh save of the season despite giving up a run on three pretty dinky hits in the inning. Of course, the one ninth-inning run was driven in by Kurt Suzuki, who had three 3 RBI on the night. Against our Sox this year, Suzuki is 17-for-38 for a .447 average (the third time this average has appeared in this recap…freaky) with 10 RBI in ten games. Taking it a step further, he’s now a .322 lifetime hitter against the Sox with five homers and 35 RBI in 51 games.
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports