Behind Giolito, 'focused' White Sox defeat Rangers, 7-2
Buoyed by a 5-run outburst in the fourth inning and a solid start by pitcher Lucas Giolito, the Chicago White Sox defeated the Texas Rangers 7-2 on Sunday afternoon.
On the verge of winning the American League Central Division for the first time in 13 years, the Sox bounced back from a tough-luck 2-1 loss on Saturday when they were held to 3 hits.
While their 10 hits included a solo home run by Yasmani Grandal that broke a scoreless tie, the Sox also did the little things -- and capitalized on a bit of luck -- to go up 5-0 lead in that pivotal fourth frame.
Before an announced crowd of 24,918 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Grandal jumped on Jordan Lyles' first pitch of the inning to crank his 22nd home run over the right field fence. It was the hot-hitting Grandal's second home run in as many games.
The shot was also Lyles' (9-12) majors-leading 37th home run allowed, though he was riding a three-game winning streak and had given up only 1 run in 14 innings over his prior two starts.
After Grandal's four-bagger, Gavin Sheets followed with a double, then advanced to third on a two-strike bunt single by Leury Garcia. Garcia alertly took second on a wild pitch, then joined Sheets to score via second baseman Cesar Hernandez's sharply hit groundball to left field.
Garcia's heads-up knack "made that inning happen," said Sox manager Tony La Russa. "There are so many things you can do with him."
After a Zach Collins lineout, Tim Anderson singled and Yoan Moncada walked to load the bases. Next, Jose Abreu blooped a single to right field that brought home Hernandez and Anderson.
"Put the ball in play," said La Russa, "good things happen."
In pursuit of his third consecutive RBI title, Abreu moved into a tie, with 113, for the league lead in that category with Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
Giolito (10-9) gave up 6 hits, struck out 4 and walked only one batter -- the last man he faced -- before departing after 97 pitches with one out in the sixth inning.
The Rangers scored in the fifth on an Isiah Kiner-Falefa single that drove in DJ Peters. Texas reached Giolito for three hits in the frame, but a double play limited the damage before a Willie Calhoun groundout ended the inning. In all but two of his last dozen starts, Giolito has allowed two earned runs or fewer.
"I didn't have my best stuff working today, kind of a grinder battle, but it felt good to get out there into the sixth inning," said Giolito. "It felt good to get the pitch count a little bit higher."
He also cited the team's "focused" and "energetic" spirit.
"I could feel that energy, that rhythm, that tempo," Giolito said. "That all carries over and keeps the momentum on our side. I think today was a really good example of everybody being in the game, whether it's the guys on the field or just the guys in the dugout supporting the team."
Aaron Bummer came on to get two outs to end the sixth -- La Russa called Moncada's deft putout of a Nathaniel Lowe groundball down the line "the play of the game" -- while Michael Kopech retired the Rangers in order in the seventh.
Chicago went up 7-1 in the seventh on a Garcia double over the third-base bag that drove in Abreu and pinch-runner Billy Hamilton. Garcia is now second on the Sox, behind Abreu, in road RBIs.
Sox reliever Mike Wright Jr. worked the final two innings, giving up a run in the 8th on an Adolis Garcia Jr. sacrifice fly to the center field wall.
With the distantly second-place Cleveland Indians routing the New York Yankees, 11-1, the triumph reduced to four the Sox magic number to clinch the AL Central. Thirteen games remain in the regular season. On Monday, the Sox head to Detroit for a three-game series against the Tigers.