Second straight strong start by Velasquez paces White Sox past Red Sox
Luis Robert drove in a pair with a homer as the White Sox extended their winning streak to four games.
BOSTON — When last seen, Vince Velasquez was standing in a driving rain Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field, battling Mike Trout in the sixth inning during a masterful start, easily his best performance of the young season.
When the umpires called for the tarp, effectively ending Velasquez’ day, he stood there, smiling and talking with Trout, both wanting to finish the duel. It was one of the neater moments of an April lacking for neat ones on the South Side.
Velasquez probably couldn’t wait for Friday to bring what he had that day to Fenway Park to face the Red Sox, and while skeptics wondered if he could spin two good games in a row, he did just that with five innings of one-run ball in a 4-2 White Sox victory.
The White Sox (12-13) won their fourth straight game and fifth in the last six, a stretch that began with Velasquez’ 5 2⁄3 scoreless innings in a 4-0 win against the Angels, his first win since last June 29 with the Phillies.
Against the Red Sox (10-17), Velasquez worked ahead in the count and threw 49 of 75 pitches for strikes. He allowed a run on three hits, walking two and striking out two, lowering his ERA to 3.94.
“It’s all clicking,” Velasquez said. “It’s a good feeling knowing you’re establishing command with your secondary pitches.
“I utilized the defense as much as I could, forced some contact and made big pitches when I needed to.”
Velasquez is pitching like someone who wants to stay in the rotation that currently includes Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Dallas Keuchel with Johnny Cueto possibly arriving from Triple-A Charlotte next week and Lance Lynn expected back after knee surgery as soon as the end of the month.
“You have to give him extra credit,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He knows who he’s matched up against. Nathan [Eovaldi] has been throwing the ball as well as anyone in baseball.”
Velasquez finished the fifth with a 3-1 lead after striking out Trevor Story with the bases full and two outs. Storey was sure he checked his swing. Velasquez saw it otherwise.
“Oh he did,” Velasquez said. “Every pitcher is going to say that but I looked at it and was like, ‘Yeah, you went bro.’ ’’
A sacrifice fly by Jose Abreu and two-run home run by Luis Robert against Nathan Eovaldi in the third gave Velasquez a 3-1 lead.
Anderson had three singles, raising his average to .330, scored a run, went from first to third twice with precision and played clean defense.
“The shortstop had a Hall of Fame game,” manager Tony La Russa said. “That jet, the motor he’s got, when he makes that turn [on the bases], he kicks it into another gear, it’s as fast as anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Adam Engel singled, stole second, advanced to third on a flyout and scored on Reese McGuire’s sacrifice fly to give the Sox a 4-1 lead.
Liam Hendriks struck out three batters in a scoreless ninth for his eighth save.
“It’s a lot happier [in our clubhouse],” Hendriks said. “Obviously the more you win, the more joy it brings. Then it just rolls. [In April] it turns into that cyclone rainstorm of when it rains it pours. Everybody assumes the next guy is going to pick him up. We are picking each other up.”
Velasquez, who was 0-7 with a 13.50 ERA and .364 opponents average in his previous seven road starts, is picking up the starting rotation. He was signed as a free agent March 13 for rotation depth.
“He moves his fastball around, he’s got an extra little zip,” La Russa said. “He can sink it in. He’s got breaking ball and a slider and a change. He can get through the lineup several times and give guys different looks.”