STILL HAVING A BLAST
Sox hit four more homers to sweep Pirates for 9th win in last 10 games
One day after the no-hitter, the sizzling White Sox did not let up.
They went back to slugging homers and got another strong start from Dallas Keuchel, who felt a bit drained on a hot day after staying up too late the night before.
The result was a 10-3 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon to complete a sweep of their two-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field, giving the Sox nine wins in their last 10 games. Danny Mendick, Edwin Encarnacion, Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu each homered in the team’s sixth game with four or more homers, a major-league high.
Abreu homered for the seventh time in five games and Jimenez, looking fine after tweaking his ankle celebrating Lucas Giolito’s nohitter, hit an opposite field threerun shot in the fifth inning, the last of three against Pirates starter Trevor Williams.
“We’ve got four or five MVP candidates and that’s pretty scary,” Keuchel said.
“This is what we knew we had and it’s been nice. In about the last 10 games, quality at-bat after quality at-bat. That’s not fun for the opposing pitchers.”
Keuchel allowed a single to Pirates leadoff man Cole Tucker on the first pitch of the game, quickly eliminating the possibility of following Giolito with a no-hitter of his own, but he pitched six innings of two-run ball, allowing four hits and three walks — all in the sixth
when two runs scored on Jacob Stallings’ single — while striking out seven. Keuchel hasn’t had a bad start yet, and he’ll take a 5-2 record and 2.70 ERA into his next outing Tuesday against the Twins.
Normally, on the night before he’s scheduled to pitch a day game, Keuchel would have left halfway through to get some rest. But watching Giolito on Tuesday was a must, and Keuchel also insisted on sticking around for the postgame fun.
“There was no way I was going to go home after the game, because I want to feel what Giolito feels and that’s pure bliss,” Keuchel said.
Opening the second half of the 60game season, the Sox (19-12) are blissfully putting it together in all phases. They’ve hit 59 homers, which leads the American League, and going into Wednesday’s game, they lead the majors with 19 defensive runs saved, according to Sports Info Solutions. It’s a radical change from last season when they ranked in the bottom third in most defensive categories. Sox starting pitchers’ ERA since July 29 is 2.60.
“Guys feeding off each other, coming to the ballpark coming to play,” Keuchel said.
Jimenez has 10 homers and 24 RBI and Abreu, the AL Player of the Week last week, has 12 homers and 30 RBI. Abreu has a 10-game hitting streak, Jimenez a seven-game streak. Encarnacion’s homer was 436 feet and he also doubled, and Yoan Moncada hit two doubles.
“Anybody in the lineup can do damage or have the hit to win the ballgame,” Jimenez said. “I don’t care if I’m 0-for-4, because I know my teammates are going to respond for me. And when that happens for them, I try to respond for them. It’s good.”
“When you have potential power hitters going the opposite way, willing to go the opposite way against the shifts, both in the air and on the ground, that’s when you know you’re probably in for a world of hurt,” Keuchel said.
“Guys want to keep it going,” manager Rick Renteria said. “They don’t want to be the guy that falters. They want to be the guy that continues to have it moving forward. It happens in either case, whether it’s pitching or hitting.
“When you have a group of guys that are confident and willing to do a lot for each other, I think it’s a good mix. It’s a good pot of stew that’s got a great flavor.”
Eloy Jimenez (top) slugs a three-run home run in the fifth, and Jose Abreu (bottom) celebrates his two-run shot in the seventh.
Danny Mendick (top) hits a two-run home run in the second inning, and Edwin Encarnacion (bottom) celebrates his solo shot to lead off the fourth.