With 17 hits, White Sox show 'what we are capable of'

June 29th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- So, is this what a comfortable win feels like for the White Sox?

Well, the 11-5 victory over the Angels on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium was relatively comfortable, anyway.

OK, let’s at least go with for this: For first time in 24 games during June and the second time in their last 29, the South Siders had an outcome decided by more than four runs. Even that fact became a little tenuous in the later innings as the Angels (44-38) crept a bit closer.

“You know what? It just happened in the ninth,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “We were up four and then we scored those two big runs. They were really important for us. They gave us a little breathing room.”

“A little more comfortable,” White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito said. “But at the same time, I wanted to make sure we kept our foot on the gas pitching-wise, defensively.”

Luis Robert Jr. launched a two-run home run a Statcast-projected 444 feet over the shrubbery in center, giving the White Sox a first-inning lead against Angels starter Jaime Barria. It was the 23rd homer of the season for Robert, who already has said he doesn’t want to take part in the Home Run Derby during All-Star Week festivities, leaving him second in the American League behind Shohei Ohtani.

That White Sox lead lasted until the bottom of the first, when Ohtani and Mike Trout tripled and Brandon Drury singled off Giolito (6-5). From there, it was smooth sailing for Giolito until a two-run blip in the seventh, as the right-hander yielded four runs over seven innings with no walks and nine strikeouts.

At the time of the Angels’ seventh, Giolito had been staked to a 9-2 advantage.

“Our offense was the story tonight. Not me, the offense,” Giolito said. “They just erupted tonight. It was fantastic. Pitching comfortably with that kind of support makes your job so much easier.

“Wish I finished stronger. It’s funny, I feel my last two wins I didn’t pitch well enough to deserve them, but baseball is weird like that. Overall I felt I was commanding the fastball well, my changeup was very good, the slider was good to lefties, bad to righties.”

The White Sox scored in each of the first five innings, with Eloy Jiménez homering and Seby Zavala homering twice. Zavala’s fifth-inning long ball started foul down the left-field line but somehow curled back into fair territory, giving him a third career multihomer game and second this season.

Every starter reached base at least once. Every starter but Tim Anderson, who is mired in a 0-for-24 slump, had at least one hit. It’s the kind of offense the White Sox expect.

“It’s not going to be like that every day,” said a smiling Jiménez. “This game is going to be up and down a lot. Right now, today, it was good for us because that reminds us of what we can do. I feel so happy for that. But tomorrow is another day.”

“We’ve had some good at-bats the last few days,” Zavala said. “But today we put it together.”

Wednesday’s win pushed the White Sox to 35-47 overall and 5 1/2 games behind Cleveland (39-40), currently sitting atop the AL Central. But the White Sox are also 1-0 as they pass the halfway mark on their schedule, behind a 17-hit attack and a very strong overall performance.

They go for the split Thursday afternoon, before taking on an Oakland team with the worst record in baseball that was on the wrong end of Domingo Germán's perfect game Wednesday. But success is more about how the White Sox looked in Game 3 of this series than any opponent.

“We’ve got some work to do, but I was really happy with the way we played the game,” Grifol said. “Overall it was a really good team win. This is what we are capable of doing. We just got to be consistent. We have to come out there and shrink the strike zone.”

“We haven’t been playing like we want to play, but it’s 80 more games to go,” Jiménez said. “Anything can happen. We’re working really hard. I know if we keep doing it, we’re going to be on the top.”