Chris Sale was decidedly worse in his second start of the season against the Houston Astros. He allowed an earned run, as opposed to none. He only struck out 12 over eight innings as opposed to 14. And since he lost that previous start, what reasonable expectation did he have to win this one?
And yet, proof that baseball is mysterious emerged, and the White Sox rallied on and flattened old friend Lucas Harrell for a four-run seventh inning, breaking a 1-1 tie and breaking open an eventual 6-1 rout. Harrell and Jarred Cosart, who started the night and allowed one run over six innings, both finished the night with more walks than strikeouts for the season.
Moonlighting leadoff hitter Leury Garcia started the rally in the seventh by drawing his second walk of the night, stealing second and scooting to third when the throw arrived before any Astros infielder did. But Garcia wasn’t done flashing his speed. On a faint looper to center, the fleet-footed Garcia took off for home. With the throw bouncing in simultaneously, Garcia shaded toward the dugout side of the baseline, tucked his arm in away from a tag, then slipped it out again and slapped the plate as he flew by.
It was the type of thrilling display of speed creating chaos and changing the course of a game that old school baseball hounds write poems about. And then Avisail Garcia pounded a home run and made it unnecessary.
After two-straight walks to Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, Garcia took a low fastball from Harrell (another Astros reliever working his way through multiple innings of disaster for the second-straight night) and lifted it out to dead center field for his first round-tripper in a White Sox uniform and his first display of the tremendous power that makes him an alluring player. My-oh-my it was the best bottom of the seventh inning this scribe can recall in quite some time.
Just in the top half of the inning, Chris Sale’s dominant night had been threatened to end in a no decision after Chris Carter obliterated a low fastball to the left field bleachers to knot the game at 1. Sale struck out seven hitters through the first three innings, and granted only six Astros access to the bases all night, but had spent all night nursing a 1-0 lead handed to him when the Sox could only squeeze a single run out of a bases loaded, no one out situation in the first inning.
Yet when Sale left the game after walking the first batter of the ninth, he was staked to a comfortable five-run lead and assured of his 10th win of the year. The cameras caught him smiling in the dugout shortly afterward.
-Dayan Viciedo also walked twice, doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.
-Chris Sale’s ERA is back under 3.00.
-This was the first game Alexei Ramirez did not appear in all season.
-The White Sox walked eight times.
Team Record: 56-76
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