This is how it was supposed to be. The 1st place White Sox were supposed to overwhelm a rebuilding Astros team, and pad their lead in the AL Central before week spent on the road in St. Louis and Los Angeles.
That's pretty far from how it worked out Friday night, but there's been a tendency for things to go smoother with Chris Sale on the mound. The best pitcher on the team stopped a potential losing skid in it tracks with eight dominant shutout innings.
His counterpart, 21 year-old Jordan Lyles, matched Sale for four innings, but his defense abandoned him in 5th. Squaring off against the dreary bottom of the Sox order (Ramirez, Danks, Escobar), two errors, an infield single and a walk loaded the bases with no outs. Granted a huge run-scoring opportunity, the top of the order promptly broke the game open. Through the next five batters, the only out Lyles recorded was an Adam Dunn sac fly, and he was out of the game down 5-0.
That was all Sale would need, but an 8th inning grand slam by Dunn was still a welcome addition.
White Sox 10, Astros 1
Chris Sale - 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 101 pitches - Padded his AL ERA lead (2.04) and only let one Astro baserunner reach 2nd all day.
Alejandro De Aza - 4 for 5, 2 R, RBI - Simply continues to get on base in large quantities, was the first part of back-to-back RBI singles in the 5th that broke the game open.
Gordon Beckham - 3 for 5, 2 R, 3 RBI - Was the second part.
Adam Dunn - 2 for 4, HR, 5 RBI, SF, K - Grand slams really pad the stat line
Paul Konerko - 1 for 2, 2 BB - Continues to get on base in large quantities.
Jordan Danks - 2 for 5, 2 R, 2 K - An encouragingly productive day...and some contact issues
Eduardo Escobar - 1 for 3, 2 R, BB - Just as good as any of the other 3rd basemen
One could say that Astros starter Jordan Lyles was already cooked by the time Gordon Beckham stepped to the plate in the 5th--the bases were loaded with no one out, and a run was already in. Still, he battled with Gordon Beckham for six pitches, worked back from a 2-0 count, only to see the 2nd basemen stay on a looping breaking ball and serve it into right for two runs.
Things only got worse for Lyles from there, as he only recorded one out in the 5th with 30 pitches.
Things Would Be Different If...
Perhaps the disparity between Chris Sale starting and relieving was best shown by Zach Stewart, who would have been amongst the crowd competing for the empty starter slot if Sale was closing. Stewart came on in the 9th to relieve Sale, and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced.
This wasn't exactly fairest pitching matchup ever created, and it would probably be more reprehensible if the Sox lost than it is commendable that they won. Still, they completed satisfied every checkpoint against an inferior opponent, and it's another marker in Chris Sale's fabulous start to the season.
Good times are meant to be enjoyed.
Team Record: 33-26, 1 game up