May 14, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Yainer Diaz (21) is greeted by second baseman David Hensley (17) after hitting a home run against the Chicago White Sox during the fourth inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Astros use hot first inning, shutdown bullpen performance in 4-3 win over White Sox
The Houston Astros bounced back and defeated the Chicago White Sox 4-3 to complete a series win on Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Houston (21-19) used a strong first inning from its offense and sensational performance from its bullpen to come away with the victory. Here are a few takeaways from Sunday’s game:
Astros strike first
For the first time this series, Houston jumped on the White Sox (14-28) first. The Astros wasted no time getting on the board, an immediate improvement on Saturday’s offensive struggles.
Mauricio Dubón, who played shortstop on Sunday, led off with a single. Third baseman Alex Bregman followed with a line-drive single of his own.
Left fielder Yordan Álvarez then ripped a double into the right-center field gap to score both runners and put the Astros ahead, 2-0. After a throwing error by White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, Álvarez ended up on third.
Anderson’s error allowed right fielder Kyle Tucker to drive in Álvarez with a sacrifice fly to right field. First baseman José Abreu also singled on a line drive to left field, but the Astros could not push across any more runs in the first inning.
Houston managed only two more hits before the fourth inning, when Yainer Díaz hit a solo home run to left field to extend the lead to 4-0.
White Sox answer
Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. was a thorn in the Astros’ side all weekend long. He put the White Sox on the board in the fourth inning with a solo home, run cutting Houston’s lead to 4-1. Robert homered in each outing during the three-game series.
Robert once again caused headaches for the Astros in the sixth, doubling on a line drive to center fielder Chas McCormick.
Designated hitter Jake Burger then launched the first pitch he saw from starting pitcher Hunter Brown for a two-run homer, trimming the Astros’ advantage to just 4-3.
Burger’s home run ended Brown’s Sunday afternoon. The Astros brought in right-handed reliever Seth Martinez to record the final out in the sixth.
Brown’s 5.2 innings left him just one out away from notching a quality start, but he still put together a solid performance. He struck out eight White Sox, gave up seven hits, allowed three earned runs, and he walked one batter. He also recorded the win.
Bullpen locks it down
Houston’s bullpen combined to pitch 3.1 innings. Relievers Martinez, Hector Neris, Bryan Abreu, and closer Ryan Pressly did not give up a single hit. Nursing a one-run lead, the Astros’ bullpen played an integral part in the win.
Pressly tallied the save, and struck out one batter in the ninth inning. Neris and Abreu each struck out two White Sox. McCormick made an impressive diving catch for the final out of the game.
News and Notes
• Díaz’s solo home run in the fourth inning was his first as a Major Leaguer.
• The Houston Astros signed free agent catcher Garrett Wolforth to a minor-league contract.
• José Altuve is expected to make his third start for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys at 6:05 p.m. on Sunday as he continues his rehab assignment.
• McCormick played in just his second game since returning from the 10-day injured list on Sunday. He went 0-for-4 and struck out once.
• Outfielder Michael Brantley spoke to reporters in Chicago on Sunday. According to Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle, Brantley is frustrated with the inflammation in his shoulder, and he doesn’t know how long this shutdown will last.
The Astros begin a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs at Minute Maid Park on Monday. It is the beginning of a six-game home stand for Houston. Framber Valdez (3-4, 2.38 ERA) is expected to be on the mound for the Astros. He will face off against Jameson Taillon (0-2, 6.41 ERA).