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Gillaspie “winds” one for White Sox over Seattle
Infielder Conor Gillaspie had the perfect conditions Saturday for his first start for the White Sox–a wind-swept day at U.S. Cellular Field playing havoc with balls.
“He wants to be a storm chaser, so it was perfect,” manager Robin Ventura said.
He was a game-changer this time, delivering a key triple and single, scoring twice and adding a sparkling inning-ending double play in the fifth to highlight the 4-3 victory over Seattle and ace starter Felix Hernandez.
“My passion is weather,” Gillaspie said. “It’s something I’ve always been interested it.
“That might be in the top 10 windiest games I’ve ever played in,” he said of the conditions that saw a southwest wind gust beyond 25 mph most of the day.
The wind instead of cold a night earlier was a factor all day. It played a role in boosting Michael Saunders’ two-run homer over the outfield wall in the eighth off Matt Thornton.
But those were the only runs the Sox bullpen gave up in relief of Dylan Axelrod (one unearned run).
Gillaspie’s offense and a two-run homer by Alex Rios off Hernandez (1-1), his second in as many games, gave the victory to Donnie Veal (1-0).
Gillaspie started at third as Ventura changed the lineup for a day game after a night game, moving Jeff Keppinger to first to rest Paul Konerko and starting catcher Hector Gimenez.
“I was kind of nervous,” said Gillaspie, acquired in spring from San Francisco. “You can’t miss pitches against a guy like [Hernandez]. I got a little lucky and had some pitches I didn’t miss.”
The triple came leading the fifth after Gillaspie helped end a Mariners threat in the top of the inning. He grabbed Brenden Ryan’s grounder over the third base bag, stepping on it to force Justin Smoak coming from second, then throwing out Ryan.
“It was a chopper right over the bag,” he said of the defensive play. “I was leading off the inning and looking for something over the plate. It worked out. I’m glad I contributed.”
Ventura said Gillaspie is likely to play again Sunday.
“He’s a tough kid. He plays hard. He has a compact swing with some pop too.”
Rios extended his hitting streak to 10 games dating to last September, and homering back to back from the first time since last July.
“I hit one of [Hernandez'] mistakes and did some damage,” he said of his sixth inning homer. “It was a changeup. He wasn’t his usual self. He throws usually 94, 95 but he was in the low 90s today.
“The wind was blowing today,” he added. “You couldn’t predict what the ball would do and how it would react. You just hope to put a good swing on the ball and that it falls.”