Robert helps Sox get off to a Blast Start

Rookie, Abreu (twice), Gran­dal, Men­dick, Jimenez all go deep against the Cubs

Chicago Sun-Times - - SOX BEAT - BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN | dvan­schouwen@sun­times.com | @cst_­sox­van

Luis Robert had only heard about the White Sox’ crosstown se­ries against the Cubs from team­mates and ac­quain­tances, but it didn’t take long for the se­ries to hear from him.

Robert should know it’s not al­ways this easy.

The Sox’ prized rookie cen­ter fielder poleaxed a Jon Lester pitch over the left-field wall at a 112.5 mph clip his first time up Fri­day, set­ting the tone in the first game of a week­end se­ries at Wrigley Field by slug­ging the first of six Sox homers in a 10-1 rout, the team’s sixth win in a row.

Robert had been out for two games with a sore right hand but looked fully healthy as the first one in line for a stag­ger­ing early bar­rage of four long balls against Lester. Jose Abreu bashed the first of his two home runs in the third in­ning, and Danny Men­dick and Yas­mani Gran­dal home­red in the fourth.

Eloy Jimenez was next with the long­est one of the night, a 466-foot blast in the sev­enth against righthande­r Colin Rea, and Abreu home­red again, this time against Jason Adam in the ninth to top it all off.

It was the Sox’ sec­ond six-homer game in six days. They have a club-record 24 homers in a se­v­engame stretch, in­clud­ing 22 dur­ing the win­ning streak, and with 53, wrested away the Amer­i­can League home-run lead from the idle Yan­kees. They also led the ma­jors in slug­ging per­cent­age against left­ies be­fore pad­ding that num­ber against Lester, who came in with a 2.74 ERA.

“These games are fun be­cause there is a sense of added com­pe­ti­tion,” said Dal­las Keuchel (4-2), who pitched eight in­nings of one-run ball. “For us to do it early against a le­gend is un­be­liev­able. You don’t ex­pect to see that against Lester. It’s a big step for­ward, but we have to re­mem­ber this is only Game 27.”

The Sox lead the all-time se­ries against the Cubs 63-60, with only 13 runs sep­a­rat­ing the teams (Cubs 555, Sox 542), so Robert should know Sox routs aren’t the norm. With both teams in con­tention this sea­son but the Sox hav­ing more to prove, this se­ries — more about the fans’ ri­valry than any rift be­tween the clubs save for the A.J. Pierzyn­ski/Michael Bar­rett years — has more at stake than any in the last sev­eral years.

“I haven’t had this ex­pe­ri­ence in this se­ries, but my team­mates and a lot of peo­ple from the out­side have told me about the fo­cus of this se­ries and how much this se­ries mat­ters in this town,” Robert said be­fore the game. “I’m just ex­cited to ex­pe­ri­ence that for the first time.”

It was also the first one for Gran­dal, who had missed three games with a stiff back.

“It’s go­ing to be a fun se­ries for the next four, five years,” Gran­dal said.

This one turned into a laugher be­cause of the home runs and Keuchel, who didn’t al­low a run un­til the eighth in­ning. Keuchel stayed around for 114 pitches, giv­ing up six hits and one walk while strik­ing out three. It was his long­est start since 2018.

Keuchel (2.65 ERA) hasn’t had a bad one yet in six out­ings in his first sea­son with the Sox.

“Today was by far the best I felt, and I was feel­ing bet­ter with my break­ing stuff as the game went on,” Keuchel said. “This place [Wrigley Field] is spe­cial . . . man, I felt great.”

It seems all the Sox are feel­ing great of late. Mash­ing the ball as they have will do that.

“No mat­ter who is pitch­ing, we go out and grind out ev­ery at-bat,” Jimenez said. “Lester is a Hall of

Famer, but we have a really good lineup. He com­peted, we com­peted, too. We won this time.

“We just try to go out and en­joy the game, and that’s what’s hap­pen­ing now. And you see the re­sults.” ✶

KAMIL KRZACZYNSK­I/AP

Rookie cen­ter fielder Luis Robert watches his home run off Cubs start­ing pitcher Jon Lester dur­ing the sec­ond in­ning Fri­day night at Wrigley Field.

KAMIL KRZACZYNSK­I/AP

White Sox start­ing pitcher Dal­las Keuchel picked up his fourth win.

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