With a split in Houston, have the White Sox turned a corner?
Splitting a four-game series against the best team in the American League shows progress. Is it something the White Sox can build on though?
Lucas Giolito of the Chicago White Sox is the talk of the southside on Friday. His complete game shutout of the mighty Houston Astros is definitely worth all the praise he’s getting. His performance allowed the Sox to split a road four-game series against the Astros. Is it a turning point? Or a blip? Well, maybe a little of both.
The White Sox pitching in the series was actually pretty good, even in the two losses. In a bullpen day that saw Ryan Burr start the game on Monday, the staff only gave up three runs on three solo home runs. The offense couldn’t figure out Brad Peacock and was held scoreless. But the pitching staff held them in the game. In game two on Tuesday, only two words need to be spoken: Justin Verlander. Sox hitters had no answer for him. as usual. Dylan Covey gave up a solo shot to Yuli Gurriel and then ran into trouble in the fourth inning. Verlander had a no-hittter AND shutout bid erased by a Jose Abreu home run in the seventh inning.
In the Sox win on Wednesday night, up and down Ivan Nova was good Ivan and the offense came alive, especially Eloy Jimenez with two homers and Charlie Tilson with his first career home run, a grand slam to basically put the game away.
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So, is it real or is it not? Let’s look at the negative possibilities first. The Astros were without two big offensive starters during the series in George Springer and Jose Altuve. That’s a pretty significant different lineup with those two in there.
Also, this may have been the perfect time to play Houston as they just completed a series victory at Boston and now have the Red Sox coming to town this weekend followed by the Cubs. So, it’s extremely possible the Astros were looking ahead and resting key players so they’d be ready for those two, more high profile series.
Now for the positives. Jimenez hit three home runs in the last two nights. Unfortunately, they were all solo shots, but that’s not his fault. Tilson, even before this series has really been playing like the guy we thought the Sox traded Zach Duke for a couple of years ago. If he continues this, then the lack of progress from the minor league outfielders is a lot less to worry about.
For Giolito, he’s got a 2.77 ERA and has been one of the best pitchers in baseball the last month. If he has actually figured something out and continues the rest of the season comparably, then that’s one less starter to worry about. James McCann has been another big surprise so far this year. While he won’t hit .360 for the entire year, his performance, both offensively and defensively, has been a shot in the arm.
Now, to bring everyone back down to Earth, the Sox now face the Twins in Minnesota starting Friday night. The Twins may be the best offense in baseball right now. They are hitting home runs at an impressive pace, including an astonishing eight on Thursday against the Angels, and don’t seem to be slowing down.
The Sox go up against the Twins best three pitchers in this series in Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, and Jake Odorizzi. Reynaldo Lopez takes the mound in the series opener, while TBD is on the schedule for Saturday night and Nova should get the nod in the series finale. If the Sox can take one game in this series, I believe it’ll be a success.
The Twins might be the hottest team in baseball right now and they always play the Sox tough. It’ll be a tough series and hopefully, the Sox can continue surprising some people. It’s important we don’t get too high or too low over individual games. It feels like the ship is pointing in the right direction, just relax and be patient if it gets off course occasionally.