In a game heard on WHOW, Oneil Cruz fractured his left ankle in the sixth inning of what became a 1-0 victory over the White Sox, overshadowing a strong performance from Johan Oviedo, who outdueled Michael Kopech to give the Pirates their fifth win in six games.
Cruz slid awkwardly into home plate while trying to score from third on a chopper by Ke'Bryan Hayes with no outs in the sixth. Cruz's left leg collided with Chicago catcher Seby Zavala, Cruz's ankle rolling up underneath him in the process.
Things briefly grew heated after Cruz was injured. Zavala took exception to Cruz's late slide, leading to an exchange between Zavala and Pittsburgh designated hitter Carlos Santana. The benches and bullpens cleared but no punches were thrown.
Pittsburgh improved to 6-3 with the victory but now faces the prospect of trying to replace one of its most important pieces for an extended period. Rodolfo Castro moved from second base to shortstop after Cruz's exit. Yet Castro knows he doesn't have all of Cruz's considerable tools.
Oviedo bounced back from a bumpy start in Boston to allow five hits - all singles - while striking out five in 6 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old who was thrust into the rotation near the end of spring training when J.T. Brubaker injured his right (pitching) elbow dazzled in arguably his best start since Pittsburgh acquired him last summer in a trade that sent veteran left-hander José Quintana to the Cardinals.
Chicago had collected at least 10 hits in eight of its first nine games. The White Sox managed just six in all against Oviedo and three relievers. David Bednar worked around a two-out single in the ninth by Gavin Sheets to earn his fourth save.
Canaan Smith-Njigba tripled in the second and scored on Jack Suwinski's sacrifice fly to produce the game's only run.
Kopech (0-2) matched Oviedo pitch for pitch, a positive sign for a staff that entered Sunday with a 7.38 ERA, the worst in the majors. The right-hander gave up just two hits in six innings with three walks and five strikeouts.
The White Sox travel to Minnesota to start a three-game set on Monday. Dylan Cease (1-0, 1.59 ERA) faces Kenta Maeda (0-1, 1.80).