Jul 20, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Alex Rios (51) rounds the bases after hitting a grand slam against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Sox dominate Braves in an improved showcase


Jul 20, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox catcher Josh Phegley hits a double against the Atlanta Braves during the fourth inning at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

White Sox games are meaningful in the sense that they play everyday and it would be nice if they weren’t inflicting pain upon their fanbase on a regular basis. Wins are nice. Ruining other teams’ playoff hopes should be fun. But now, until the end of July, it’s all about the right players looking good.

Between six quality innings of Jake Peavy‘s work, three hits, five RBI and a grand slam from Alex Rios, as well as three hits off the bat of Josh Phegley, the Sox checked all the boxes for encouraging things to see in a rare, easy blowout victory over a division leader. The 10-6 defeat of the Braves pulled the Sox even in their interleague series with the NL East frontrunners.

Rios’ grand slam, a gorgeous, arcing blast sent firing out of his picturesque follow-through and into the depths of the left-center bleachers, gave the Sox their first lead of the afternoon in the third inning. It also completed a five-run frame off flagging Braves starter Paul Maholm, who would leave after facing two batters (and allowing them both to reach) with a wrist injury in the fourth.

Greeting reliever David Carpenter with three more hits, including a two-out grounder that Jeff Keppinger pushed through the right side for two more runs, the Sox extended their advantage out to 9-4 by the end of the fourth, completely redeeming an ugly start of the day by Jake Peavy, who initially looked primed for a tough luck loss.

Brent Morel put Freddie Freeman on first with an error to start out the second inning, then kept the frame going even longer with a bad feed to Gordon Beckham on a potential inning-ending double play. Because baseball occasionally engages in justice, the fourth batter of the inning, Dan Uggla, ripped a misplaced fastball on the inner half to left for a two-run blast.

By the middle of the third, the Braves’ lead seemed almost insurmountable . Two singles, the latter of which went about six feet in front of home plate off Jose Constanza‘s bat, led off the frame, and Justin Upton‘s RBI single caught Morel on a vicious in-between hop before skipping into left field. Freddie Freeman’s sacrifice fly pushed the deficit all the way out to 4-0.

But with Malholm clearly struggling to throw any pitch that didn’t transform into a grapefruit, the Sox offense was strangely capable of leaving league-average offensive outputs in the dust. Behind walks from Dayan Viciedo and Casper Wells and a single from Phegley, the Sox added another tally on Anthony Varvaro in the seventh, which was enough to safely Troncoso-proof the game. Ramon, getting major league checks while Simon Castro does not, allowed a two-run Freddie Freeman homer in his only inning of work.

It’s ok, Addison Reed was bored anyway, and happily struck out the side in the ninth.

Post-script:

-Peavy was only officially charged with two earned runs over six innings and showed the effects of his layoff in a positive way

-De Aza had four hits on the day, in addition to another confusing baserunning play where he bet hard on Dan Uggla dropping a pop-up, lost his bet, but still raced back to first in time because the Braves screwed up the relay something fierce. There hasn’t been much chatter about his tradeability, but he’s a plus-hitting centerfielder.

 

Team Record: 38-56

Box Score

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

Tags: Alex Rios Chicago White Sox Jake Peavy