An important part of contending is not just about come-from-behind victories, or hard-fought battles against division foes; it’s about winning the games you need to win. The White Sox lost in an embarrassing fashion last night, by a score of 9-0. They followed that up with an easy win of their own, and they beat the pitcher, Michael Pineda, they needed to beat. Miguel Gonzalez, to put the cherry on top, pitched a fantastic game, easily his best of the season.
1. Pretty much all of the action in this game occurred in the second inning, and all with two outs. Pineda retired the first five batters of the night and he fell right into his usual modus operandi: losing command with two outs. A Brett Lawrie single and Dioner Nivarro walk put runners on first and second, and Avisail Garcia drew first blood by hitting an RBI single to left field. The Sox may have been robbed of a run after J.B. Shuck hit a ground rule double (so only one run could come in), but Tim Anderson made that moot as he hit a double to knock in another two. It was such a great at-bat from Anderson; with two strikes, he capitalized on the hanging slider and knocked it down the left field line. The Sox would grab a 4-0 lead after that inning, and they wouldn’t look back.
2. It’s kind of funny that Pineda settled down after that inning, but he did. Nonetheless, the Sox were able to tack on one insurance run in the sixth. Melky Cabrera walked with one out, and Todd Frazier hit a line-drive single that allowed Cabrera to move to third. Lawrie hit a grounder to the left side of the infield, and Didi Gregorius made a wondrous play that fell just short. He dove, made an accurate throw to second, but Starlin Castro bobbled the ball on the transfer to nix the double play.
3. Gonzalez, unlike Pineda, did not have a meltdown inning. In fact, he didn’t really allow much of anything. He allowed just five hits and a walk over seven innings, while striking out three in the process. He only had multiple base runners in the first inning, and he got out of that without a scratch. Every other base runner came isolated within an inning, and he generated weak contact after weak contact. It’s really nice to see that Gonzalez has settled into the back end of the rotation. He now has a 4.39 ERA/4.30 FIP on the year. That’s all you can ask for from non-Chris Sale/Jose Quintana pitchers on this team.
4. The bullpen had an easy time of it to close this one out. Zach Duke allowed a single to Jacoby Ellsbury in the eighth, but nothing else, and then just allowed a single to Brian McCann in the ninth before being replaced by David Robertson with one out. Robertson allowed a single to Castro, but quickly got two quick outs to end things.
5. Winning two out of three against a comparably talented team is a great outcome, and they’ll hopefully carry that momentum to their next series against the Braves, who are currently 28-57. Game one of the series is on Friday; Sale will face Matt Wisler at 7:10 PM CT.
Team record: 44-41
Lead Image Credit: Mike Dinovo // USA Today Sports Images