7 Observations: Bullpen struggles, Sox drop second game originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The White Sox dropped their second straight game to the Houston Astros, 6-4. They now hold a 1-2 record to start the season and look to tie up their first of two seasons series with the Astros during Sunday’s finale.
Here are 10 observations from Saturday’s loss:
1. Lucas Giolito took the bump for his first start of the season. He provided a hard-fought battle, coming back after giving up two runs in the first inning. He got through five innings, allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out six batters and pitched through 97 pitches, 63 of which were strikes.
Gio struck out his former teammate, Jose Abreu, three times on Saturday. He is the seventh pitcher to strike out Abreu three times in one game.
“He gave up those two runs early and just kept battling and got us five (innings),” Grifol said of Giolito. “He did a really good job today.”
2. The bullpen struggled for the second game in a row. From a string of Jimmy Lambert, Joe Kelly, Jose Ruiz and Gregory Santos on Saturday, they gave up three runs. The Astros grabbed two runs in the eighth off Santos, putting the proverbial nails in the coffin.
On Friday, a similar theme occurred. Kendall Graveman and Jake Diekman combined for four earned runs allowed, which came in the seventh and eighth innings.
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3. Luis Robert Jr. made an incredible leaping catch on the wall to steal extra bases away from Kyle Tucker. He also made a sliding catch on a short-winded blooper in his territory. His defense has looked on brand for his well-known abilities in center field.
4. Tim Anderson, amongst other starters in the batting order, is finding ways to get on base a lot. He has three straight two-hit games and a run scored in each contest against the Astros this season. He also has two walks and three strikeouts, underlining the growing plate discipline he’s worked diligently to improve upon.
5. Piggybacking on Anderson’s hot bat and ability to find first base, the White Sox as a whole are providing elite offense. They currently have the 10th-best batting average in the league, as of this writing. Unfortunately, their offense has only translated to one win. But it points to positive signs in the future if they can maintain production.
6. MLB’s shift rules have a clear impact on the game. And Saturday’s game can attest. The Astros stole several hits from the Sox, mainly from Giolito, with groundballs through the pockets of defenders.
“I think there’s gonna be a lot more of that this year, with the shifting,” Giolito said. “More groundballs are gonna find holes and things like that. But that’s just part of the game.”
7. Elvis Andrus is still one hit away from reaching the 2,000-hit club. He went 0-for-4 on Saturday with one strikeout. If and when he obtains the mark, he will become No. 289 to reach the club in MLB history.
The White Sox finish their first series of the season on Sunday against the Astros. They’ll start a three-game home opener on Monday against the San Francisco Giants.