White Sox show what they can be when talent is on the field, gain series split with Astros

Mike Clevinger pitched five scoreless innings in his Sox debut, and Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert Jr. homered.

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The White Sox’ Yoan Moncada celebrates after hitting a double during the second inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros.

The White Sox’ Yoan Moncada celebrates after hitting a double during the second inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros.

Kevin M. Cox/AP

HOUSTON — Talent was never an issue for the underachieving White Sox last season. Keeping it on the field was.

Luis Robert Jr., Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson reminded everyone of that in the Sox’ 6-3 victory Sunday against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Robert lined a 113 mph double off the left-field scoreboard, swatted his first home run of the season and ran 113 feet, according to Statcast, from his position in center field to make a sliding catch of Kyle Tucker’s drive to the warning track in left-center to prevent the Sox from possibly blowing a five-run lead in the ninth inning.

Moncada doubled twice and homered, finishing the four-game series against the reigning World Series champions 8-for-19 with two homers and three doubles.

And after going hitless his first four at-bats, Anderson doubled to center in the eighth, knocking in the Sox’ sixth run. He was 7-for-18 in the series.

Together, Anderson (79 games played), Robert (98) and Moncada (104) missed an enormous amount of time last season because of injuries. On Sunday, they were all on the field. So was rookie right fielder Oscar Colas, who made a running catch and had two hits, including his first double for his first RBI.

‘‘The read he got on that — I mean, it was electric,’’ said right-hander Mike Clevinger, who pitched five scoreless innings in his Sox debut, thanks in part to Colas’ catch with two on in the fifth. ‘‘He saved the day right there. I thought it was in the gap, and all of a sudden I saw him. He was just right there.’’

Then there was Robert’s catch with Reynaldo Lopez battling through a two-run ninth that began with two walks and ended with the tying run at the plate.

Chalk it up to good health.

‘‘Physically, I feel very good,’’ Robert said through a translator. ‘‘Very close to how I was feeling in 2020. My legs are good. I have a lot of energy.’’

Manager Pedro Grifol said Robert’s catch was ‘‘probably one of the best catches I’ve ever seen.’’

According to Statcast, Robert covered 30.2 feet per second. Thirty or more is considered elite.

‘‘Megatron? Calvin Johnson in center field?” Clevinger said, referring to the former Lions receiver. ‘‘Good grief, yeah. It’s very comforting to know you have those guys behind you.’’

Featuring 95 to 96 mph velocity he hadn’t shown in spring training, Clevinger struck out eight before leaving after 98 pitches.

The Sox wasted scoring opportunities, as they did throughout the series, but Robert’s homer against Luis Garcia in the fifth broke the ice. Moncada’s second double was followed by Andrew Vaughn’s RBI single and Colas’ RBI double to make it 3-0 in the sixth.

Clevinger became the first pitcher since 2000 to throw five or more scoreless innings in his Sox debut. His eight strikeouts were the most by a pitcher in his Sox debut since Francisco Liriano struck out eight on July 31, 2012.

‘‘It was a good start,’’ he said. ‘‘I felt really good body-wise and healthy.’’

After two bad bullpen days in the second and third games of the series, the Sox’ pen responded. Aaron Bummer pitched a perfect seventh against the heart of the Astros’ lineup, and Kendall Graveman — appearing in his third game of the series — worked a scoreless eighth.

The Astros played the series without injured Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley and Sunday without Yordan Alvarez (rest). But the Sox will take a split, knowing they held their own with the best in baseball.

‘‘This is a good start for us,’’ Robert said. ‘‘Actually, matching up against the world champions was the best [thing] to happen to us because we can measure ourselves against one of the best teams in the league. Leaving here with a 2-2 record is good.’’

‘‘Grit,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘We were playing the world champions in a tough environment, and we had chances to win all four games. We showed them we’re a pretty good ballclub, too.’’

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