The Sox came into tonight a half game ahead of Minnesota and Cleveland, and with both of those teams winning in walk-off fashion, the Sox had to take care of business to maintain that ever so slim edge, and they did just that on a hot night in Kansas City with a 5-3 win over the Royals.
Lucas Giolito. The Sox needed their ace to take the game into the 7th to save the bullpen a bit, and he did just that, going 6 innings, allowing 3 earned runs on 5 hits and striking out 9 Royal hitters. He’s been outstanding over his last four outings, going 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA and striking out 43 against just 3 walks issued. That’s what aces do, and Giolito is showing why he belongs among the elite pitchers in MLB right now.
Alex Colome. Sox fans (including myself) have been ragging on him lately for not handling things so smoothly in the 9th lately, such as Friday night’s grey-hair inducing outing that lasted a whopping 40 pitches, but this outing was just what the doctor ordered. Colome got credit in the box score for the save, but it could be argued as much credit should have gone to Luis Robert for the outstanding catch he made on the first pitch of the 9th. More on that below…
Jose Abreu. The 79 train keeps chugging along, as he extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a 2-run home run in the first inning. With each additional hit, you can almost hear more MVP votes going his way. Problem is, there’s a couple players in his own clubhouse that might take some away from him, such as…
Luis Robert. We’ve seen him hit moonshot home runs, steal bases, but on this night his glove made the most noise as he ranged far to his left to make a spectacular diving grab on the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth in right-centerfield. He has elite speed, and that plays just as well in the outfield as it does on the base paths. He should be this year’s Rookie of the Year, but don’t be surprised if he takes home an MVP award at some point, and maybe a Gold Glove somewhere down the road.
The bottom of the lineup. The Sox got just six hits Saturday night, and five of them came from the top 3 in the batting order. Only James McCann was able to get a hit from spots 4 through 9 in the order. This might just be a blip on the radar, hopefully not the beginning of a trend.
Brad Keller not starting Sunday’s game. I mean, this could well turn into a good thing for the Sox as Matt Harvey is now slated to get the ball, and this isn’t 2015 with the Mets Matt Harvey. What I make of this decision by the Royals to give Keller an extra day of rest is he clearly doesn’t want the entire White Sox batting order flipping their bats after all the home runs they are poised to hit off him. They’ll have to save those bat flips for Matt Harvey, whose breaking ball has developed a tendency to hang up in the zone. Bombs away, Sox bats…
With that, the Sox send Dallas Keuchel to the hill against the aforementioned Matt Harvey to get the 4 game sweep. They’ll enter the game 10 games over .500 and with a 0.5 game lead, with just 20 games remaining in the season. It’s officially go-time.