That…was not good. In a series that bare minimum needed to result in a split for the Sox to maintain their hold on top of the AL Central standings, instead saw Cleveland return the favor from the end of the season last year when the Sox swept them and crushed the Tribe’s playoff hopes. The Sox could very easily have won every game this series, and yet somehow managed to find ways to lose each one in increasingly frustrating ways. All of this culminating in Rick Renteria’s mystifying decision to throw Carlos Rodon to the wolves in the bottom of the 7th last night. Let’s put a bow on this box full of shit before we move on to the last series of the regular season, shall we?
To the bullets:
Numbers Don’t Lie
-Let’s get this out of the way to start: Renteria fucked up something pretty huge last night. Taking a returning Carlos Rodon (who hadn’t faced live hitting against legit major leaguers in over 2 months) and having him come it to try and get one out with the bases loaded in a game the Sox absolutely needed to have when he had Marshall, Bummer, Heuer and Foster available to him is inexcusable. The results were completely predictable, and I’m sincerely hoping this hasn’t broken Rodon’s brain. Ricky Renteria takes way too much shit normally from this fanbase and I think he actually does a pretty good job all things considered, but this dump truck full of criticism completely deserves to run him over. Even Frank Thomas in the post-game show was flabbergasted, and was more than happy to let his feelings be known. Not something you see every day.
-On the plus side, Rodon’s velocity was back, hitting the upper 90s with his fastball. Granted he was clearly overthrowing it, and 97 without movement isn’t gonna help anyone but the guy in the batter’s box but it’s the one small positive out of last night’s mess.
-Eloy came up lame after his double in the 7th, which was later revealed to be “foot soreness” (whatever that is). Fingers crossed it’s nothing that keeps him out too long as the Sox are about out of time.
-The Sox offense actually showed signs of life the last two games, which is a welcome sight after the previous 5. A lineup like this that doesn’t take or see many pitches is always going to be prone to slumps, so hopefully this is them coming out the other side of it.
-Luis Robert finally got a day off yesterday, and with 2 starts against left handed pitchers on tap this weekend I fully expect him to shake off his slump. Or not.
-Watching Yoan Moncada breathing heavily on the Sox bench for 10 minutes after his triple and needed to be fanned by Ricky Renteria is terrifying to see. COVID continues to be not something to fuck around with 8 months later and yet people are still fucking stupid about it.
Yoan Moncada still breathing hard well after his triple, his third in six games. pic.twitter.com/09wjPSLMf9
— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) September 25, 2020
-The Sox are now a game behind the Twins for the lead in the AL Central. 3 for us against the Cubs and 3 for them against the Reds. It’s not over yet, which brings us to:
Series Preview: Cubs at White Sox – Yes, It Actually Matters
Game 1: Yu Darvish (7-3, 2.22 ERA) vs. Dylan Cease (5-3, 3.52 ERA)
Game 2: Jon Lester (3-2, 4.40 ERA) vs. Dane Dunning (2-0, 3.19 ERA)
Game 3: TBD vs. Reynaldo Lopez (1-2, 4.68 ERA)
I really, really, REALLY was hoping this series wasn’t going to matter for either team and they could just play out the series with an eye on resting their players for the post season. The Baseball Gods have had other plans, however, so here we are. A series that actually matters for BOTH teams, despite them having clinched a postseason birth.
We all know the situation the Sox find themselves in, but the Cubs have somehow not managed to secure the NL Central title with the Cardinals 2.5 games behind them. The North Siders come into the series in similar straits as the Sox, losers of their last 3 and unable to find their offense without the aid of a GPS, having only scored 13 runs in their last 7 games.
The hottest hitter the Cubs have right now (and I say this with no measure of irony) is Jason Heyward, he of the .283 average and 6 home runs. The offense really just hasn’t gotten going on the North Side, and they currently rank 13th out of 15 teams in the NL for standard batting stats ahead of only the Reds and Pirates (who just took 3 of 4 from them).
On the pitching side, the Sox will face the rejuvenated Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish on Friday night. Darvish, despite having a few less than stellar (merely pretty good) outings in his last 3 still has to at least be in the conversation for the award that we all know is going to Trevor Bauer. The last time the Sox faced Darvish he held them in check, only allowing one dinger to Jose Abreu (he does that to people) and striking out 10.
Saturday is a different story, with Jon Lester making what is most likely to be his final regular season start in a Cubs uniform. Last time out the Sox torched him for 8 runs, 4 of which came from the long ball. More of this would be welcome this weekend.
The Cubs don’t have a starter listed for the finale this weekend, but if they lose the first two to the Sox and the Cards win both of theirs I would expect to see Kyle Hendricks on short rest. If that’s not the case I would think it would be Adbert Alzolay and Jose Quintana eating innings for game 3.
We know what this means for the Sox. A good weekend could be the difference between facing the Yankees in the first round and the Indians. Despite the fact that the Tribe just managed to steal 4 games in a row against them, I know I’d rather see them than Garrett Cole and that Death Star of an offense the Yankees field every game. Just get it done.
Let’s Go Sox