Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Tigers 1 – White Sox 4

Game 2: Tigers 8 – White Sox 9

Game 3: Tigers 4 – White Sox 3

Game 4: Tigers 0  – White Sox 3 

 

Three out of four has to be considered a complete success for the Sox, especially when you include the fact that Baltimore just took 2 of 3 from Cleveland. The Orioles pummeled the Indians pitching, dropping 25 runs on them in 3 games as the Tribe has now lost 5 of their last 10, stretching the Sox lead over them to a season high 4 games.

The door is open for the Sox to run away with the division, and this series was a solid intro to that. The starters had an excellent weekend, where even the lone loser in Giolito still went 7 innings and struck out 9. The Sox hitters took advantage of every mistake the Tigers D made, and the new unis even gave TLR some sick drip. Solid work all around.

In an added bonus, the Twins tailspin continues to be one of the best storylines of the season, as even Ozzie Guillen started in on them during the pregame show on Sunday. It’s glorious, and you can hook every Minnesota loss directly into my veins. Anyway, back to talking about a good team that’s well above .500

 

TO THE BULLETS!

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

Game 1

-Lance Lynn has been as advertised so far this season. How good has he been? Well the one run he allowed in this game actually raised his ERA. He went a strong 6 innings in a mere 89 pitches while striking out 6 Tigers en route to his team-leading 7th win of the season. There isn’t much more you can say about his performance so far, other than it’s been exactly what we all hoped for.

-The Sox hitters smoked 4 solo home runs in this game (Moncada, Grandal, Anderson and Jake the Snake Lamb), providing all the offense that Lynn would need. Seeing Grandal and Moncada go yard in particular warms my cold, dark heart. Grandal seems to finally be rounding into form after dealing with a bum knee all throughout spring training. His dinger went almost 460 feet with an exit velo of 110 mph. Very nice.

-Home plate umpire Will Little had himself a shitty game Thursday night, which ultimately led to Lucas Giolito being tossed after jawing at his terrible strike zone from the dugout. Apparently Little told Gio to go look at the zone himself, which he did, and returned to tell Little that upon further review it still fucking sucked.

-After Gio got tossed, LaRussa managed to piss everyone off AGAIN with his terrible postgame comments. I sorta get where he was going with this, but I would’ve much rather him said something along the lines of “I appreciate his passion in sticking up for his teammates” instead of what he actually said:

-Evan Marshall, Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks combined for 3 innings of 1 hit ball in a preview of what we all thought the bullpen was going to be like at the beginning of the year. Sadly, it didn’t last too long.

Game 2

-This game started out pretty ooky for the Sox, as Spencer Turnbull came out firing bullets for the first 5 innings, only making one mistake to Yasmani Grandal that he smoked into the seats for a dinger. Otherwise he was fairly unhittable until the 5th, where something in his elbow went TWANG and he was forced out of the game. It was then that the wheels fell off for the Tigers D, allowing 5 runs in the 5th, only 2 of which were earned. The Sox took advantage, however, and jumped out to a 7-2 lead.

-That lead didn’t last, as mentioned above Codi Heuer and Evan Marshall absolutely did not have their A, B, C or D stuff that night. Heuer walked 2 and gave up a hit, all of which came around to score when Marshall relieved him and promptly gave up 2 home runs that gave the Tigers the lead. Both guys had been pitching fairly stellar of late, so I’m inclined to call this more of a hiccup than a trend.

-Grandal was able to tie the game in the 8th with his 2nd home run of the night and 3rd of the series with an opposite field pop off of Rony Garcia. The eyeballs on this guy were never in doubt, but the power behind the swing now is something else.

-A struggling Yermin Mercedes was able to walk the game off in the 9th after Jose Cisneros walked Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu smoked a single, sending Yoan to 3rd. Yermin immediately went into 2 strike mode and fought off an inside slider into short left field for the winner. Fingers crossed this is just what he needs to get going here on out.

Game 3 

-On a hot, windy day at the Down Arrow, Lucas Giolito only made 3 bad pitches. Unfortunately for him, all 3 of them ended up in the OF seats, giving the Tigers all the offense that they’d need to win the game. He still went 7 innings, striking out 9 and probably deserved a better fate than the L, but such is baseball.

-Tarik Skubal looked the best he had the entire season, as you could see why the Tigers took him in the 2018 draft. He kept the Sox hitters completely off balance, striking out 11 in 5 innings. His slider had nasty cut to it, and the movement on his 4 seam fastball was pretty damn impressive. Thankfully, with him striking out so many Sox he was pulled after 5 innings and 103 pitches.

-The Sox jumped all over his replacement Derek Holland, with 3 hits (including a 2-run double by Jake the Snake) and a walk. Sadly, this is where things got stupid. LaRussa decided he wanted to fire up the Old Timey Managin’ Machine, and had Danny Mendick try and bunt the tying and winning runs over to 2nd and 3rd. In a galaxy brain move, Mendick decided he would bunt the ball down the 1st base line, where Jonathan Schoop was able to field it and fire the ball over to 3rd for the force out. Giving away outs to a guy who has never been able to get them against the Sox on his own is just fucking dumb, and I doubt this is the last time we will talk about it. Sadly.

-After the fucked up 6th inning, the Sox were only able to muster 1 more hit the rest of the game so they didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory. Jose Abreu had multiple chances to smoke fastballs sitting middle middle and was late on them. His day off Sunday was not really a shock.

Game 4

-Facing the team he’s dominated more than any other, Dylan Cease returned to form by pitching a VERY strong 7 innings and striking out 10 and only walking 1. His curveball looked simply unhittable, dropping right off the table and making Tigers hitters flail around at the ball. I get that it’s just the Tigers, but there was a lot to like about this start. His next one should bring a much stiffer test in the Tampa Bay Rays, and I’m very excited to see how he handles their very patient hitters.

-All the Sox offense happened in the top of the 2nd, with Adam Eaton tripling into the corner to start things off. Andrew Vaughn smoked a single into left to drive him in, then moving to 3rd on a Nick Madrigal double in the gap. Timmy brought both them in with a bloop single to center, and with that the offense was done for the day. Good enough, indeed.

-Aaron Bummer looked sharp taking over for Dylan Cease in the 8th, striking out 2 and generating a weak ground for the other out. More please.

-Liam Hendriks faced little opposition in the 9th, going 1-2-3 with 2 strikeouts. He’s locked in right now, with the only downside being with more people in the stands I can’t hear him scream FUCK anymore.

-The win today moved Tony LaRussa into 2nd place all time for wins in the league. I give TLR a lot of shit because he’s an out of touch crank who doesn’t support his players in the media, but this is a cool milestone for him and the league and in this moment, I have to give him his due. Congrats to him.

 

Next up is a series against the offensive Death Star known as the Toronto Blue Jays. They lead the league in OPS, and their bullpen is what we thought the Sox one would be, and that’s with them losing their closer (Kirby Yates) to TJ surgery before spring training ended. With the Sox merely .500 against winning teams, this coming week will be a solid yardage marker to see where they truly stand among the AL Elite. Get it done.

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Cardinals 1 – White Sox 5

Game 2: Cardinals 3 – White Sox 8

Game 3: Cardinals 4 – White Sox 0

 

That was an acceptable palette cleanser from the verp that was this past weekend in the Bronx. The Sox starters were the story of the series, with Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Carlos Rodon all notching quality starts en route to taking two of three from the Red Birds. Liam Hendriks seems to have returned to form as well, coming into the legendary 8-3 save situation after Garret “Garbage Time” Crochet (and I mean that with the utmost respect, as he’s too good a pitcher for mop up duty) loaded the bases in the 9th inning on Tuesday night. He struck out the side in true Mariano Rivera fashion to seal the deal, screaming FUCK all the while. My dude.

The offense was present and accounted for in the first two games, and then vanished completely in game 3. Much like the rest of the time when the Sox score 2 or less runs (in which they are a paltry 1-7 in the month of May and 2-10 overall) the outcome was not in their favor, aided and abetted by TLR’s insistence on giving away outs trying to bunt runners over.

Which wasn’t helped by Yermin Mercedes’ inability to hit with RISP on Wednesday, going 0-4 while stranding 10(!) runners on base. Just leaving this out there, but since LaRussa needlessly threw Mercedes under the bus in Minneapolis, he’s slashed .207/.273/.480 with 1 run and 1 RBI as opposed to his slash line in the 8 games before: .344/417/.980 with 4 runs and 8 RBI. It’s one of those “I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin” kinda things. Is it that he’s just slumping right now, or that pitchers have figured him out? Sure, that’s a possibility. The timing is very suspect, however.

Anyways, to the bullets.

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

 

Game 1

-Lance Lynn was a beast in this one, taking a no hitter through 5+ innings, ultimately ending with 7 innings, 3 walks and 4 Ks en route to his 5th win of the season. While TLR was waxing poetically about how “difficult” it was to pitch against his former club, Lynn held no such sentiment, saying “I’m an asshole when I pitch” and declaring the win to be one of the “Most satisfying” of his career.

-Andrew Vaughn blasted his 4th home run of the season off a pretty good changeup by Cards starter Kwang Hyun Kim. He also added a single to bring his average up to .230, a pretty solid feat for a guy who spent about 6 hours total in the minor leagues. The hit tools are very clearly there, and he’s gotten better playing the OF. Good shit.

-Tim Anderson broke out of his mini slump with a 2 run double down the RF line, though he was ultimately gunned down by Molina at 3rd trying to stretch it into a triple. I’m pretty happy with both of those things, as being aggressive on the basepaths like that is Timmy’s M.O.

-Michael Kopech came in to shut the door in the 8th and 9th and looked pretty damn good doing it, striking out half the batters he faced and walking none.

Game 2

-This was billed as a marquee pitching matchup between two former high school teammates who became aces at the big league level. It was…not that. The Cardinals defense were struck by a bad case of The Sucks, and Flaherty tried his damndest to hold it together but in the end gave up 7 runs, 4(!) of which were of the unearned variety. Lucas Giolito looked solid, if unspectacular in his 6 innings of 2 run ball. There was a moment before he came out for the 5th where Ethan Katz and the training staff came out to look at him for some reason, but Lucas waved them off and threw two more. Don’t know what it was about but I guess it bears watching.

-As mentioned above, Garret Crochet’s mystifying usage thus far this season has clearly made him rusty. More garbage time duty tonight turned into a save situation for Liam Hendriks, who mowed down 3 Cardinals to clean up the mess. Crochet has one of the best ERAs in the bullpen, yet we continue to see a bevy of innings pitched by Jose Ruiz (who would have trouble getting ME out). I don’t get the rationale, and it irritates the fuck out of me.

-Nick Madrigal and Jose Abreu made sure the Cards paid a price for the clown show in the field, going 5-8 between the two of them with 5 RBI, including this massive dong by Jose in the 7th inning, estimated at 69-420 feet. Nice.

 

Game 3

-Sure is a shame that we’re only going to get one season of the Ethan Katz-fueled version of Carlos Rodon, as he mowed down 10 Cardinals in dominant fashion. Rodon is the biggest example of just how out of touch with the pitching game Don Cooper had become at the end of his career.

-Unless you’re Billy Hamilton and it’s 85% of your offensive ability, bunting is fucking stupid. Yet here we are, with 3 sac bunts on the day that yielded zero runs. Fuck that shit into the sun, and let these professional hitters swing the fucking bats.

-Adam Eaton left the game with a hamstring injury and is considered day to day, leaving….nobody to play in the outfield. If Eaton is missing a stretch of time, then Rick Hahn is out of excuses and a move has to be made.

-In a scary moment, Michael Kopech stumbled off the mound after a pitch in the 8th and limped off the field. Supposedly the tweak to his ankle is minor and he won’t require a stint on the DL, but I’ll believe that when I see it, considering this team’s luck this year with injuries.

-Aaron Bummer and Jose Ruiz didn’t cover themselves in glory yesterday, quadrupling the Cardinal’s lead between the two of them.

-The Sox hitters were unable to get anything started (or finished for that matter), on their way to their 4th time being shut out this month. A new RF power bat that hits lefty from Seattle might be able to help with that. Who knows?

 

Next up is a 4 game set against another Bird-Themed baseball club, the Baltimore Orioles. As was foretold, they currently sit in the basement of the AL East, but that is fairly misleading as the O’s have the ability to jump on a team in a hurry. Anthony Santander and a cancer-free Trey Mancini have the kind of power to make opposing pitchers pay, and John Means might be a legit ace after his perfect game earlier in the season. Now is not the time to let off the gas, take 3 in the series and move on to Cleveland.

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Royals 0 – White Sox 6

Game 2: RAINED OUT

Game 3: Royals 4 – White Sox 3 (10 Innings)

 

This shit continues to happen. The Sox bring the heat in the first half of a series against an opponent and are completely unable to close it out in the finale. The bullpen is responsible yet again, as Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks combined to cost the Sox after Adam fucking Eaton was able to bring the team ahead 3-2 with a pinch hit dinger in the bottom of the 8th.

It’s extra frustrating because the team looked so damn good in the home opener on Thursday, with Lance Lynn giving the bullpen the rest it so desperately needed by going the full 9. Yet all the good feelings from that game were washed away with a 4-seamer that caught way too much of the zone to Carlos Santana from the Sox lone big off-season acquisition. He didn’t miss, and the Sox end with a 1-1 split in the rain-shortened series.

I’m pretty sure that Bummer, Marshall and Hendriks aren’t going to be this bad the whole year. I’m pretty sure the Sox aren’t going to be dead last in the league in defense the whole year. I’m absolutely certain the team isn’t going to hit .255 for the rest of the season, and Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada are going to stay below the Mendoza line. All that said, those three things are costing the team games right now, and I’m just hoping those aren’t wins that they’ll desperately need come September.

TO THE BULLETS:

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

-Right off the bat, just gotta say that Lance Lynn is one beefy, badass motherfucker. There was not a single point in that game on Thursday night where he didn’t seem completely in control. It certainly helped that the D behind him wasn’t actively trying to sabotage his start, but he was still nails. Scattering 5 hits and no walks over 9 innings with 11 strikeouts is pretty majestic, especially against a team that was averaging over 6 runs per game coming into Thursday night. More please.

-The flip side of that coin is that Dylan Cease still throws too many fucking pitches, and watching his starts feels like waiting for continental drift to take effect. He rarely has any trouble getting ahead in the counts, but once he gets to 2 strikes the nibbling begins. Throw in a few fouled off pitches, and suddenly he’s at 82 in the 4th fucking inning. Cease better tighten it up soon, because…

-Michael Kopech seems nigh unhittable right now. Through 6.1 innings he’s struck out 11, walked 2 and allowed 1 measly hit. Out of the 21 batters he’s faced, only 8 of them have been able to put the bat on the ball. If Cease still can’t give the team quality innings by the time the calendar flips to May, LaRussa could have the decision made for him to move Kopech into the rotation. Bare minimum he may have to think outside the box and go with 6 starters.

-Sure was fun watching Brad Keller and his stupid face get rocked again. Love to see it.

-While Yoan Moncada got his first dinger of the year with a beautiful opposite field jack in the first game, that was the extent of his offensive output for the series. His slash line is now at a very ugly .161/.297/.587. I’m not personally worried about him yet, as he was smoking the ball in spring training but this bears watching.

-Yermin Mercedes has an OPS of 1.451.  Send Tweet.

-Once again, TLR’s Sunday lineup leaves a ton to be desired. There was no reason that Grandal’s bat could not have been in the lineup today. Giving playing time to Zack Collins is admirable, but not at the expense of getting one of your best weapons going offensively. On the plus side, despite the shitty outcome, his bullpen usage was much better. Let’s hope that continues into the next series with…

 

SERIES PREVIEW: Cleveland @ Sox – Divisional Damage

Bob Uecker: Mr. Baseball vs. Juan Marichal | BallNine VS

Records: Cleveland 5-3 / White Sox 4-5

First Pitch: Mon/Tues/Wed 7:10 Thurs 1:10

TV: NBCSN

We’re Not Detroit: Covering The Corner

PROBABLE STARTERS

Monday: Triston McKenzie (0-0, 2.45 ERA) vs Carlos Rodon (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Tuesday: Shane Bieber (0-1, 3.65 ERA) vs Lucas Giolito (1-0, 4.22 ERA)

Wednesday: Aaron Civale (2-0, 2.45 ERA) vs Dallas Keuchel (0-0, 7.00 ERA)

Thursday: Logan Allen (1-1, 2.70 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

 

With the arrival of Cleveland into town tonight, the Sox head into their second divisional opponent of the season sitting on a 4-5 record. The Cleveland Baseball Team currently sits atop the division with a 5-3 record, fresh off a three game sweep of the Tigers at home. Things started out for the ex-tribe about as poorly as they did for the Sox, with Cleveland dropping 3 of their first 4 games, one of which happened with a Miguel Cabrera walk-off dinger in the middle of a blizzard. Since that first series, however, they’ve put it together offensively, scoring 24 runs in their last 4 games.

The Cleveland offense, while not looking like much on paper with the departure of All Universe shortstop Francisco Lindor, still has one of the best hitters in baseball in Jose Ramirez. After a weird down year in 2019 that saw his HR total cut almost in half, his slugging percentage crater to .800, Ramirez got back to his old ways in 2020. He rocked 17 dingers last season, which was only 6 less than he hit in the entirety of 2019, and his OPS came roaring back to .906 which is more the norm for him. Oddly enough, his K% rate was actually the highest of his career, just under 17% (he had averaged 11% up till that point, even in his down year), though some of that could be due to the sample size of the shortened season. He’s picked up where he left off last year, hitting .300 thus far with a pair of HR.

Replacing Lindor is one of the more unenviable tasks out there, and unfortunately for Amed Rosario that duty has fallen squarely in his lap. As part of the return the Mets sent westward for Lindor, Rosario was a former top prospect of the Mets, signed as an international free agent in 2012 out of the DR. He worked his way up through the system, finally making his debut in a September callup in 2016. He was full time with the team in 2017, but didn’t really hit his stride until 2019 where he slashed .287/.323/.755 with 15 HR and 19 SB. He’s a below average fielder, with his best DRS score of -3 coming in 2019. He’s obviously not going to be able to fill the cleats left behind by Lindor, but he’s more than serviceable at SS.

The main story for Cleveland (as it’s always been) is it’s pitching staff, and this year is really no different despite some new names in the rotation. The Sox got a taste of Monday night’s starter Triston McKenzie late last season after they had moved him into the bullpen to save his arm. His fastball is his primary weapon, and his lanky delivery is reminiscent of Garrett Crochet and Chris Sale. He also throws 3 off speed pitches (SL/CB/CH), with the slider being his preferred punch out pitch, but he likes to live upstairs with his fastball.

Night two features the Battle of the Aces, with Shane Bieber facing off against Lucas Giolito. Neither guy has gotten off to the kind of start we’d all come to expect out of them, but the underlying metrics all say that the stuff is fine. The Sox actually have fared fairly well against Bieber the past 2 seasons, going 2-1 against him in 5 starts, scoring 19 runs in that span. Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu both apparently enjoy facing off against him, as they’ve hit a combined 5 HR off him and are both hitting over .310.

As for the Sox, we get to see if Rodon’s first start really was the beginning of a turnaround or just a blip against a sub-par Mariners lineup. Dallas Keuchel also gets his 3rd chance to get out of the 5th inning, and show us all that last year was not just him feasting on a crappy central division.

More importantly, the Sox need to stop stranding runners on base. Especially facing a Cleveland bullpen that typically just doesn’t give much away. The ex-Tribe had the Sox number completely last year, including that disastrous sweep in September that almost ended the Sox playoff hopes. If there was ever a time for the team to put it all together, this is the series for it. Cleveland, while depleted on offense, is still a dangerous team, if only for their ridiculous ability to pull pitchers out of their farm system and turn them into plus plus contributors pretty much at will. There’s enough pop in that lineup to give them the lead, and that’s something their bullpen doesn’t give away. Score early, and score often.

Let’s Go Sox