Picking up the theme from Thursday’s recap, the White Sox followed the script against another also-ran team into Friday.
After the customary deflating loss to open the series, the White Sox made up for it with the typical win of dubious quality. Glen Otto entered the game with a 5.50 ERA on the season and a 6.42 ERA for his career, and he ended up throwing his second quality start since the start of June.
Fortunately, the White Sox had Dylan Cease on the mound, and he maintained his streak of starts of one or fewer earned runs to an MLB-record 13 games. The highly paid combo of Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman and Liam Hendriks made the one-run margin hold up, and now the White Sox are tied for second place with Cleveland, which lost tonight.
Cease wasn’t as brilliant as he had been in other outings, at least early. He made an unnecessary mess of the first inning by issuing a pair of two-out walks, followed by a RBI single on an 0-2 slider to Adolis Garcia, who reached out and poked a pitch off the plate through the vacated right side. He ran into similar problems with a one-out single and a two-out walk in the second, but he ended that threat with a Corey Seager flyout, then finished his evening with four consecutive 1-2-3 innings.
Cease only struck out five, but it actually worked in his favor. He was able to complete six innings on 91 pitches despite the early inefficiency, and while he was short on K’s, he ended up with 18 whiffs, so it wasn’t for a lack of stuff.
While he held down the Rangers, the White Sox managed to come up with two runs, with one of them harder to replicate than the other.
In the third, Yasmani Grandal led off with a five-pitch walk, even though three pitches could’ve been called strike. He then advanced from first to third when Marcus Semien deflected Josh Harrison’s grounder into shallow center field, giving Grandal the 20 seconds he needed to make it to the other corner without a throw. Seby Zavala then made it easy on him with a deep sacrifice fly to tie the game.
In the fourth, Eloy Jiménez gave the Sox the lead with a majestic solo shot over the far fence in left center.
The Sox only managed six hits, a walk and a hit batter while striking out 12 times against an unimpressive trio of Rangers pitchers. Tim Anderson had another rough game by going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and Yoán Moncada matched him lower in the order.
But the one-run lead entering the seventh meant that Tony La Russa could go to his most impressive trio of relievers, and they all functioned well enough. Joe Kelly pitched around a two-out error by Harrison for a scoreless seventh, Kendall Graveman survived a single, a walk and an HBP over an action-packed 11 pitches in the eighth (with Tim Anderson failing to turn a 6-3 double play he probably should’ve made, although his throw was off-balance and at an odd angle due to the shift), and Liam Hendriks made easy work of the ninth for his 22nd save.
*Grandal also contributed a legit double, so he fared adequately in the DH spot for a night.
*Andrew Vaughn made the running catch in the right-center gap that he couldn’t make on Thursday, so both tried to prove me wrong.
*AJ Pollock pinch-ran for Eloy Jiménez and was caught stealing in a SHOTHO. Adam Engel was used to replace Vaughn defensively.
*Cease improved his Cy Young standing by running his record to 12-4 while lowering his ERA to 1.98.