Having scored early and often one night, then late and just enough the next, the Chicago White Sox go for a hat trick Saturday afternoon when they continue their four-game series against the host Oakland Athletics.
While the A’s haven’t had many fans in the stands, the visiting White Sox have thrilled those who came to witness homecomings for former Oakland players Elvis Andrus and Liam Hendriks as well as University of California product Andrew Vaughn.
Andrus, who was released by the youth-conscious A’s last month, contributed a game-opening home run to a 14-2 onslaught on Thursday before coming through in the ninth on Friday with a tiebreaking, two-run double.
Vaughn chipped in with an RBI single in Chicago’s five-run rally that produced a 5-3 win on Friday, and Hendriks slammed the door with a scoreless last of the ninth for his 32nd save.
The only people missing from the homecoming so far have been Josh Harrison, a 2021 A’s second baseman who has yet to see action in the series, and White Sox manager Tony La Russa, the former champion Oakland skipper who hasn’t been at the ballpark because of health issues.
Of course, putting up a pair of wins in their pursuit of the American League Central title was most important to the White Sox. Yoan Moncada, who had five hits, including two homers, in the Thursday win noted that the series-opening laugher was just what he and his teammates needed with the finish line in sight.
“Everybody’s having fun. Everybody’s relaxed,” he said. “And when the results come into our favor, that helps, too.”
The Friday win allowed the White Sox (71-68) to break a second-place tie with the Minnesota Twins (69-68) and remain 1 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Guardians (71-65) in the AL Central.
Chicago will look to Lance Lynn (5-5, 4.34 ERA) to improve upon that standing on Saturday.
The 35-year-old right-hander took the loss in the opener of the clubs’ series at Chicago in July, roughed up for five runs (four earned) in 5 2/3 innings during a 7-3 defeat. He has gone 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA in nine career starts against the A’s.
Lynn is unbeaten in his past five starts overall, going 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA.
Short of an off-the-field injury like the one that thrust Austin Pruitt into the spotlight on Friday, the A’s (50-89) are expected to counter with Adrian Martinez (4-3, 4.37 ERA).
Martinez, a rookie right-hander, has pitched brilliantly since being recalled from the minors late last month, limiting the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles to a total of six hits and one run in 11 2/3 innings. He earned the win in both games.
The 25-year-old has never faced the White Sox.
Martinez would be wise to steal a tip or two from Pruitt, who shockingly no-hit the White Sox for five innings in an emergency start Friday.
“(He) provided us what we needed,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said after watching Pruitt, in his first start of the season, match his season high for pitches with 55, prompting his removal from the no-hitter. “You really can’t say enough about what Pruitt’s brought to this bullpen and this team in general.”
Oakland fell for the fourth consecutive game and the eighth time in its past nine contests.
–Field Level Media