We’re entering the stretch of the season where every game can be accurately labeled the “biggest game of the year.” Well, the White Sox certainly treated it as such tonight. Johnny Cueto delivered a gritty outing covering six innings, limiting Minnesota to just one run through his 118 pitches. That performance included stranding both a first-and-third, nobody-out situation and a leadoff triple in back-to-back innings. The defense mostly had Cueto’s back, as an A.J. Pollock laser canceled out Luis Robert’s misplay in the third inning. Pollock’s throw home was a huge momentum swing, nailing Gio Urshela in a close play that went unchallenged by Rocco Baldelli, upholding the Chicago 2-1 lead.
Offensively, the South Siders had Cueto’s back in a big way. Tim Anderson set the tone with a two-hit night, as his first-inning single combined with three more singles from Jose Abreu, Gavin Sheets, and Andrew Vaughn gave the Sox a 2-0 lead. However, the game really changed complexion in the fourth inning. Luis Robert stepped to the plate with two outs, just as Chicago seemed poised to squander a bases-loaded, one-out scenario. One Sonny Gray hung slider later, the Sox were up 6-1 on a 111 mph bomb to the second deck in left field. They would add more insurance later through a Robert single, Abreu sacrifice fly, Andrew Vaughn homer, and a Seby Zavala homer off of a position player.
The White Sox move to 44-45, four games back of Minnesota, with three contests left in the Twin Cities before the All-Star Break begins Monday.
Somehow the blowout ended in the benches clearing, as Gilbert Celestino and Seby Zavala exchanged words after an innocent tapper for the final out. Keep your eyes peeled for some high energy this weekend.
W: Johnny Cueto (4-4) | L: Sonny Gray (4-3)
White Sox Scoring Recap:
Top 1st: Jose Abreu singles to RF. Tim Anderson scores. 1-0 White Sox
Top 1st: Andrew Vaughn singles to shortstop. Jose Abreu scores. 2-0 White Sox
Top 4th: Luis Robert homers to left field. Seby Zavala scores. Tim Anderson scores. Yoan Moncada scores. 6-1 White Sox.
Top 6th: Luis Robert singles to left field. Tim Anderson scores. 7-1 White Sox
Top 6th: Jose Abreu hits a sacrifice fly to right field. Yoan Moncada scores. 8-1 White Sox
Top 7th: Andrew Vaughn homers to left-center field. 9-1 White Sox
Top 9th: Seby Zavala homers to left field. 12-1 White Sox
Johnny Cueto: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Cueto continued to be a quality-start machine, surprising everyone when he came out for the sixth inning sitting on 102 pitches. He then struck out the side, putting the cherry on top of a gutsy outing. The veteran righty even survived a trainer check in the fifth inning as well, proving to be durable. Johnny ends the first half with only two outings under six innings pitched, and only outing over three earned runs allowed.
Luis Robert: 3-for-5, HR, 5 RBI, 1 R
While Robert has made a couple of questionable plays on the diamond recently, he usually finds a way to make up for them. Tonight was no different, as his grand slam was monumental.
Jose Abreu: 2-for-4, 2 RBI, 1 R
Abreu continues to manufacture big hits for the White Sox, as his season average has risen to .301. He’s only registered two .300+ seasons in his career – once in his rookie year and again in his 60-game, MVP 2020 campaign. Pito also delivered a legendary celebration in the dugout after Moncada’s expert slide on his sacrifice fly.
Tim Anderson: 2-for-5, 3 R, 1 BB
TA7 appears to be warming up, which is huge for the Chicago offense. He reached base three times and wound up scoring three times. Need I say more?
Other Game Highlights
The Next Matchup
The White Sox face off against the Twins tomorrow in another “biggest game of the season”. Michael Kopech will toe the rubber against lefty Devin Smeltzer.
The game will be broadcast at 7:10 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago.
Follow us @SoxOn35th for more updates throughout the season!
Featured Image: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports