Apr 2, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. (88) celebrates with left fielder Andrew Benintendi (23) after hitting a home run during the fifth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Astros had the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning after trailing 6-1 entering the frame, but Chas McCormick hit a broken bat pop-up to first base to end the game as the Astros split their season-opening series with the White Sox after a 6-3 loss on Sunday. The Astros did not have an extra-base hit, and they left 12 men on base. Jose Abreu collected two hits and drove in a run. Yoán Moncada went 3-for-4 with a home run, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, and a walk for the White Sox, while Luis Robert finished 2-for-5 with a double and a homer.
Luis Garcia works out of trouble
The Astros starter kept the White Sox off the board for the game’s first four innings, but it wasn’t easy. He worked around Robert’s one-out double to keep the White Sox off the board in the first, but he got into a real jam in the second when the first three Sox hitters reached to load the bases. Garcia wiggled out of trouble by striking out Oscar Colás and Elvis Andrus and ended the inning by getting Tim Anderson to ground out weakly to second base.
Garcia retired the side in order in the third, only to have to deal with another jam in the fourth, but stranded runners at second and third when Colás popped out, and Andrus flied out. Through the game’s first four innings, the White Sox left six men on base and were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Sox break through in the fifth
Robert, whose double in the second innings was 113.4 MPH off the bat, launched a 2-2 fastball from Garcia into the Crawford Boxes to put the White Sox up 1-0. Garcia retired Andrew Benintendi and Eloy Jimènez to end the fifth, and Dusty Baker sent him back out for the sixth, but Yoán Moncada doubled to start the inning and scored on Andrew Vaughn’s single. Garcia was chased after walking Yasmani Grandal in favor of Phil Maton, who allowed an RBI double to Colás but retired the next three hitters to limit the damage.
In his first start of the season, Garcia was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs on seven hits over five innings.
Offense struggles with runners on base
The Astros had plenty of traffic on the bases, even with Yordan Alvarez out of the lineup. They had at least one man on base in each of the game’s first six innings, but they left nine on base themselves and were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position in that stretch. After Mike Clevinger struck out eight in five shutout innings, the Astros finally got on the scoreboard against Gregory Santos in the sixth when McCormick scored on a wild pitch.
Houston’s opportunities dried up after the sixth. Aaron Bummer retired the side in order in the seventh, Kendall Graveman worked around a one-out single in the eighth, though the Astros did take advantage of a pair of leadoff walks from Reynaldo Lopez in the ninth, scoring both with two-out in the inning.
News and Notes:
•Cesar Salazar walked in his first Major League plate appearance
•Alex Bregman is 0-for-16 to start the season
•Lance McCullers (elbow) threw off flat ground again on Sunday
•Michael Brantley (shoulder) reported to the Astros spring training complex in West Palm Beach, where he’ll face live pitching for the first time before joining Triple-A Sugar Land on a rehab assignment.
The Astros will open a three-game series against A.J. Hinch and the Detroit Tigers on Monday night at Minute Maid Park, with Hunter Brown on the mound against Matthew Boyd.