The Astros went down without much of a threat against Lucas Giolito in his best pitching performance to date at the major league level, and the White Sox managed a split in Houston as they won their second game in a row, 4-0.
Basically nothing went the Astros’ way tonight. On the whole, Corbin Martin’s third start looked closer to his second one in Boston than his debut. The first two innings went relatively smoothly, with a lone single as the only blemish, but the wheels came off immediately in the third. Yolmer Sanchez led off the inning with a double, Charlie Tilson worked a walk, then hits by Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson brought those two in. A botched pickoff attempt would bring in Moncada, after which point Martin calmed down and got three outs (including a pair of strikeouts).
Unfortunately, Eloy Jimenez led off the next inning with another home run to make things 4-0. Martin would get Yonder Alonso out, but another hit by Sanchez marked the end of the evening for Martin. His final line would be 3.1 innings, six hits allowed, four runs allowed (three earned), and a 3-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio.
That four-out stretch across two innings basically constituted the entirety of the offense for the evening for both teams. Framber Valdez shut things down in the fourth, then added two more scoreless, two-hit innings while striking out two and walking one. Josh James struck out an impressive five in his 2.0 scoreless innings (albeit while allowing three hits and a walk), and Chris Devenski added a one-K ninth.
On the whole, it wasn’t an ideal night for the Astros’ staff, but it was hardly the worst thing. Sure, the White Sox picked up eleven hits in total, but nine of those were singles; on a luckier night, maybe those could have been spaced out better and led to only two or three runs. Or maybe on a luckier night, the Astros’ historic offense on the season would have picked up Martin on a down night.
Unfortunately, the offense ran into Lucas Giolito. Giolito has been on a bit of a roll lately, with four of his last five starts seeing him keep his opponents to one run or fewer. But tonight was far and away his best game to date; Giolito, who had never made it further than one out into the eighth inning before, threw a full, 107-pitch complete game shut-out, marking the first time a South Sider has thrown a complete game of any sort (let alone a shutout) since Chris Sale left town after the 2016 season. He finished the night with nine strikeouts, one walk and four singles allowed, and 82 strikes against only 25 balls.
Michael Brantley accounted for half of the team’s hits, although his fourth- and sixth-inning singles were balanced out somewhat by his first inning double play that erased Josh Reddick’s leadoff single. Reddick also walked, and Max Stassi reached twice on a single and a hit by pitch. The other six spots in the lineup went totally dark.
Sometimes, you face a former top pitching prospect as he starts to put it all together. Not much you can do but shake your head and focus on the next night. The Astros are still 33-18, seven games ahead of the Rangers. Starting tomorrow, the Red Sox come to town for a rematch of last weekend’s series. Game one will feature Chris Sale against Wade Miley.