It was battle of two young power arms on Friday at Minute Maid Park. Two power arms that could have arguably been the same team if the Astros draft had gone a different way in 2014. Lance McCullers and Carlos Rodon showed flashes of brilliance and youth in the White Sox's 6-3 victory in 11 innings.
McCullers only went 4 1/3 innings, allowing one earned runs on five, two walks, and two hit batsman. He had to work out of jam early in the first after hitting leadoff man Adam Eaton with a pitch and a bloop single to Jose Abreu. McCullers was up for the task, striking out Adam LaRoche and Alexei Ramirez to end the inning.
The bottom of the first would be a microcosm of the Astros offense, close but no cigar. Jose Altuve singled, tagged up and moved to second on flyball to dead center. Altuve was thrown out trying to score on an Evan Gattis single. He was out by full two steps.
The White Sox would threaten again in the second, McCullers loaded the bases by hitting Eaton for second time. But once again McCullers sidestepped danger with a ground ball out from Melky Cabrera.
The Pale Hoses wouldn't be denied in the third, Alexei Ramirez got the ball rolling with a double. McCullers struck out Conor Gillaspie, but Hank Conger wasn't able to hold onto the ball for strike three. The Astros battery seem to get mixed up as Conger set up outside and McCullers threw inside. The ball skipped away from Conger, he recovered and threw the ball off Gillaspie's back allowing Ramirez to score.
The Astros would answer with a run of their own in the bottom of the fourth. Chris Carter singled home Evan Gattis would have reached scoring position on passed ball by Tyler Flowers.
McCullers struggled in the fifth inning. After retiring the first batter of the inning, he loaded the bases for a second time in the game with back-to-back walks to LaRoche and Ramirez.
The Astros went to the their bullpen at that point. Joe Thatcher entered the game. Thatcher got out of the inning but not before giving up a sacrifice fly to Gordon Beckham, putting the White Sox back into the lead.
Houston once again responded, this time taking the lead in the sixth. Jose Altuve singled and Preston Tucker doubled to lead off the inning. It appeared the Astros would score a run or at least have the bases loaded when Evan Gattis hit a dribble in front of the plate. Unlike the Gillaspie play, this time Gattis was called for batter interference.
Carter drove home Altuve on a sac fly and Tucker scored on a close play at first that involved Rodon and Luis Valbuena. Valbuena grounded to first, the throw from Abreu took Rodon away from the bag. The call on the field was safe, it was reviewed and confirmed. Rodon missed the bag by a hair.
Beckham would tie the game on another Astros miscue. Chad Qualls left a pitch belt high and in on Beckham and he deposited in Home Run Alley.
The Astros twice had runners in scoring position with less than two outs over the final four innings, but couldn't get the job done.
Geovany Soto with two on and two out, smacked a double off the right field wall - putting the Sox up two. Adam LaRoche would twist the knife a little deeper with a single to make the lead 6-3, the final score.