White Sox get sour taste of Astros' best-in-baseball offense

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Sox get sour taste of MLB's top offense in Astros' rout originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

HOUSTON — Dallas Keuchel said it before the game.

"They're probably the best lineup we're going to face this year. So we've got our hands full."

He might not have known how right he was.

RELATED: Old rivals La Russa, Baker meet again as Sox visit Astros

The Houston Astros, baseball's best offensive team, pounded the Chicago White Sox, the American League's best pitching team, in the first of a four-game series between AL contenders in Texas, the 10-2 final a rare rout of a loss for the South Siders, just the second time this season they allowed double digit runs.

Dylan Cease didn't have it, and whether he was facing the explosive Astros lineup or some bottom-of-the-barrel bunch of bats, the results might have been the same. But the Astros didn't just get to Cease, they feasted.

"They're obviously a good offensive team," Cease said, "and if you put them in hitter's counts, it's going to be tough."

Hitting bested pitching Thursday night, and it's a good thing that "no one gives a s---" about potential ALCS previews in June. A rare clunker truly is nothing to worry about considering the calendar does not yet read September or October.

But we'll see what the rest of the series holds. The Astros have the bats to counter the White Sox elite cadre of starting pitchers. Without Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, it's not some great leap to suggest the White Sox could use a little extra oomph if they want to hit back, and maybe that's what Rick Hahn will target at the trade deadline to put his team in a better position to compete against the AL's other top clubs.

On a night when the Astros were knocking Cease around the yard, the White Sox fell silent when it was their turn to hit, scoring just two runs on four hits against Houston starter José Urquidy.

Yasmani Grandal sat in front of a camera Wednesday after walking off the Tampa Bay Rays and briefly giving the White Sox the best record in baseball, saying a series win against another contender said nothing about this team. And maybe that's true in the sense that its final form won't come until after the trade deadline and after the returns of the injured middle-of-the-order bats.

The White Sox will undoubtedly feel good about throwing Carlos Rodón, Lance Lynn and Keuchel in the remaining three games in Houston, three starting pitchers who figure to be able to counter the Astros and their leads in all the important offensive categories in the game.

But even when boasting the Junior Circuit's finest pitching staff, the margin of error is permanently small for a team looking to play championship-caliber baseball. That's something the Astros know a thing or two about.

"They’ve been together several years now," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. "They’ve been tested, played a lot of winning baseball against good pitchers, have solid approaches. Right now, they’re at the top in a lot of things you measure, as far as putting the ball in play and not chasing.

"They have a bunch of guys who are professional hitters."

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