(The Sports Xchange) - It was just one victory, but the Chicago White Sox were encouraged by what they saw on Monday at U.S. Cellular Field.
After being swept this past weekend, the White Sox used impressive performances from ace Chris Sale and right fielder Avisail Garcia to get back on track with an 8-2 win against the Los Angeles Angels.
Sale got back to dominating hitters the way he usually does, allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings, and Garcia clubbed two home runs to continue an impressive stretch at the plate.
“I think that says a lot about our team,” said Sale, who struck out seven and gave up five hits.
“Tough road trip (we’re coming off), three one-run ballgames. Those are kind of hard to swallow sometimes, but what a way to start off (this series) on the right foot at home.”
Sale, who allowed seven runs in his previous two starts, pitched into the eighth and left after hitting Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun with one out. It was a rare loss of control on a night he commanded all of his pitches.
After watching the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays jump on fastballs early in counts during his past two trips to the mound, Sale took the option away from the Angels.
He mixed his pitches and went with off-speed stuff early to set up his high-90s fastball.
“I think for him, most teams are going to try and do that,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said.
“You’re not going to sit around and wait for a slider or changeup. You’re going to try to get a fastball and everyone is trying to jump on something early. He’s going to have to be able to adjust to that, and I think he did a nice job of being able to do that tonight.”
Garcia, who drove in four runs, has four home runs in his past six games, all hit at home. Prior to the homer binge, he had hit just two in his previous 48 games, which included a 46-game homerless drought from June 8 to Aug. 4.
“I‘m using my top hands more,” Garcia said. “I’ve been working on that. Today, I (felt) a little bit better. I come here every day and try to get better and try to get my swing back.”
Left fielder Melky Cabrera went 2-for-3 with an RBI, first baseman Jose Abreu went 2-for-4 with two runs, and catcher Tyler Flowers went 2-for-4 with a home run for Chicago, who finished with 13 hits.
The Angels were led offensively by center fielder Mike Trout (2-for-3) and second baseman Johnny Giavotella, (2-for-4 with two RBIs). Right-hander Matt Shoemaker, who had not allowed a run in 19 innings coming in, started for Los Angeles (59-52) and took the loss.
“There was no doubt commanding counts was an issue,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of his starter.
“After the first inning, he minimized some damage and then the home run to Flowers and then Garcia ... It just seemed like he couldn’t get back into that good fastball command and controlling counts and containing counts.”
The White Sox (52-58) charged out to a 3-0 lead on runs in the first, third and fourth against Shoemaker, then made it 7-0 with four runs on five hits in the sixth.
Garcia’s second homer of the game highlighted the big inning, which started with a single by Abreu and double by Cabrera.
“Pitches were up,” said Shoemaker (5-8), who was charged with seven runs on nine hits, including the three home runs.
“The solo homers aren’t really going to hurt you that much. That three-run (homer) kind of got us. If that didn’t happen, it could be 3-2 and still have a game.”
The Angels got two back on a one-out double by Giavotella in the seventh, but that was all they got off Sale (10-7). Right-hander Nate Jones relieved Sale in the eighth and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings to finish off the win.
Compiled by Peter Rutherford