Robert helps Sox get off to a Blast Start
Rookie, Abreu (twice), Grandal, Mendick, Jimenez all go deep against the Cubs
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.” ✶
Rookie center fielder Luis Robert watches his home run off Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester during the second inning Friday night at Wrigley Field.
White Sox starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel picked up his fourth win.