WHITE SOX DOUBLE HOME WINS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Chicago White Sox took three out of four in this weekend series with the Texas Rangers doubling their home wins on the season.  Chicago was 3-17 at home before the Rangers arrived and finished the weekend 6-18.  Even after taking the series, Chicago has the fewest wins in the American League.

Teams in general hate three city road trips and don’t play well in the third city.  That was true for Texas as they won one game in each city on this nine-game, three city trip, going 3-6.

The series started with bad news.  Cole Hamels woke up with neck stiffness and was scratched from Thursday’s start. Then there was good news.  Doug Fister took the start and turned in his best performance of the year – seven shut out innings on six hits.  He struck out four and walked no one.  The outing lowered his ERA to 3.43.

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead to the eighth inning.  The news turned bad again, as the White Sox scored four unearned runs with two outs.  Jose LeClerc made the throwing error that opened the flood gates.  4-2 was the final score.  LeClerc was charged with his second blown save, and his record is 1-1 with the loss.

The Rangers and White Sox came into this series ranked 29th and 30th respectively in runs per game.  It was thus improbable that the teams would break out 17 runs of offense, but they did on Friday night.  The Rangers staked starter Matt Moore to a 3-0 lead before he took the mound.  Jurickson Profar singled with the bases loaded to plate the first two runs, and Joey Gallo followed with a single to drive in the third.

The Sox answered with a single, double and single in their half of the first inning to draw within a run at 3-2.  Both teams added a run in the second inning.  In the third though, the Rangers pulled away for good. They scored five runs to lead 9-3.  The big hit that blew the game open was a grand slam home run from Shin-Soo Choo.  It was the fourth slam of his career and first since 2010.

Moore kept the Sox off the scoreboard in the third inning, but the fourth didn’t go well.  He retired only two batters before departing the game, giving up two more runs.  He left with a 7.99 ERA and landed on the disabled list the next day.

Jesse Chavez relieved and tossed 2-2/3rds scoreless innings.  Alex Claudio and Tony Barnette finished the game with scoreless performances.  The Rangers added three more runs to make the final score 12-5.  Chavez (2-0) was awarded the win since the Ranger starter did not finish five innings.

Profar and Gallo accounted for most of the scoreboard damage besides Choo’s slam.  They collectively had five hits and each of them drove in three runs.

On Saturday, Ariel Jurado was called up from AA Frisco to be the starting pitcher.  He was 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in six starts for the Roughriders, and he gave a good account of himself.

“A lot of positives.  A lot to hang his hat on,” manager Jeff Banister said about Jurado Sunday on his pre-game radio interview.

Jurado gave up a hit in the first inning, but retired the Sox on 10 pitches.  He got the South Siders out 1-2-3 in the second inning including his first Major League strikeout.

Meanwhile the Rangers were staking him to a 3-0 lead, scoring two in the second inning and another in the third.  Three doubles from Nomar Mazara, Profar and Rougned Odor plated the first two runs, and Profar drove in the third with a sacrifice fly.

The roof caved in on Jurado in the third inning.  He retired two of the first three batters, but the final out of the inning proved illusive.  A walk, two singles and a triple followed giving the White Sox a 4-3 lead.

Jurado did come out to throw another three up, three down inning in the fourth.  He got into trouble in the fifth, but got two outs before being lifted.  Brandon Mann got the final out to keep the Sox off the scoreboard.

Jurado’s final stat line then was 4-2/3rds innings pitched, six hits, four earned runs, two strike outs and two walks.

Jose Abreu homered in the seventh inning off Kevin Jepson to make the final score 5-3.

Jurado was optioned back to Frisco on Sunday, and Chris Martin was activated from the disabled list.

On Sunday, Mike Minor pitched well, but Chicago’s Reynaldo Lopez was better.  Lopez shut out the Rangers on two hits over eight innings to improve to 1-3.  Jace Fry put the Rangers down 1-2-3 in the ninth on 14 pitches for his first save.

Minor gave up a solo home run to Sox catcher Wellington Castillo in the second inning.  Three singles with a stolen base in the middle plated two more runs for Chicago in the third inning.  3-0 was the final score.

Minor came out after five innings, having thrown 90 pitches.  The count was a little high, but he struck out nine of the 15 batters he retired.  He simply got no offensive support.  He’s 3-3 with the loss.

The hole the Rangers have dug in the first seven weeks of the season got deeper this weekend.  Texas now trails first place Houston by 12 games.  All of the other four teams in the division have records over .500, such that the Rangers are eight games in loss column away from crawling out of last place.

The Rangers are back in Arlington for seven games starting with the Yankees on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Wednesday’s game has the unusual start time of 6:15 PM.  The announced starting pitchers for the Rangers are Bartolo Colon, Cole Hamels, and Doug Fister.  This will be the Yankees’ only regular season trip to Arlington this year.

NOTABLE:

*     Texas has allowed 13 unearned runs in May and 28 unearned runs on the season, both Major League highs.

*     Texas has started seven players age 25 or less six times this season, including the first three games of this Chicago series.  Saturday’s lineup with Ariel Jurado pitching actually had eight starters 25 or younger.  No other team in baseball has started more than six in a game.

*     Jurickson Profar hit five doubles on the road trip and leads the Rangers with 12 doubles on the season.

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