Chicago White Sox gain 1st win of 2024 behind Garrett Crochet’s 7 strong innings: ‘This one, you know what, he wanted it’

Chicago White Sox manager Pedro Grifol noticed a transformation from Garrett Crochet throughout Tuesday’s outing.

“He went from a high-velocity guy to a pitcher in the same game, which was really, really good to see,” Grifol said.

Crochet had a phenomenal encore performance, allowing one run in seven innings in his second major-league start to lead the Sox to their first win of 2024 — a 3-2 victory against the Atlanta Braves in front of 12,300 at Guaranteed Rate Field.

He surrendered three hits, the first coming in the fifth inning, while striking out eight and walking one for his first win as a starter.

“Since I got to college, that’s maybe the third time I’ve ever got to the seventh, so that was huge for me,” Crochet said. “Just nice to get back there because it was a little unfamiliar territory. To get there this early on, especially when we needed to win, that’s awesome.”

Crochet thought one of the keys was establishing his fastball early.

“I feel like I was throwing everything for strikes too,” he said. “I feel like when I’m throwing the way I was today, you can really point to anything.”

Everything has been working so far for Crochet.

A first-round pick in 2020, his first 72 major-league appearances came in relief. He made his first start on opening day against the Detroit Tigers, allowing one run on five hits with eight strikeouts and no walks in six innings in the 1-0 loss.

He threw a career-high 93 pitches Tuesday.

“At first he came out just throwing the heck out of it, high velocity,” Grifol said of Tuesday’s adjustments. “He settled in and just mixed his pitches. And he was pounding the strike zone.

“His last outing he said he could have gone out for the seventh. I didn’t want him to. It was his first outing as a starter. This one, you know what, he wanted it. He was in a good spot, so go get it.”

Crochet didn’t surrender a hit until a one-out single to center by Adam Duvall in the fifth.

Photos: Chicago White Sox 3, Atlanta Braves 2

His 16 strikeouts over his first two starts are the most by a Sox pitcher, surpassing Hector Santiago in 2012 and Dane Dunning in 2020 (both 14).

“When I’m competing in the zone and having good results, I suppose it does boost the confidence,” Crochet said. “But just being all around the plate and feedback from (catcher Martín Maldonado) has been really good.”

Crochet surrendered a solo home run to Marcell Ozuna in the seventh that tied the score at 1. Paul DeJong broke the tie — and put Crochet in position for the win — with a pinch-hit home run to left leading off the seventh.

“Thankfully I was able to stay a little warm down in the tunnel and in the cage just watching the game, supporting my guys,” DeJong said. “I was thankful to get that opportunity tonight.”

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The Braves threatened in the eighth, loading the bases with one out. Michael Kopech got Austin Riley to hit a grounder to Yoán Moncada, who stepped on third and fired to first for an inning-ending double play.

The Sox got an insurance run in their half of the eighth on an RBI single by Andrew Vaughn.

Kopech remained in the game for the ninth. He surrendered a home run to Ozuna, but with two on and two out he got Travis d’Arnaud to pop out to DeJong at shortstop for his first career save.

“Got clipped on one, but I was just glad to be able to get the job done,” Kopech said.

And after three one-run losses in the opening series against the Tigers, the Sox (1-4) found a way to win a close game.

“One-run games are tough. They can go either way,” Grifol said. “It’s one move, it’s one hit, it’s one walk. We played a good ballgame tonight. It went our way.

“We played well against Detroit, too, those three one-run games. We just have to continue to learn from Detroit, learn from today and build on it.”