The White Sox were within three outs of picking up their first victory in eight tries at Progressive Field this season.
Then Josh Donaldson reached on a swinging bunt against Juan Minaya, Terry Francona replaced him with Rajai Davis, and the inning slowly rolled downhill before plummeting off a cliff and dying in a fiery explosion.
Rick Renteria brought in Caleb Frare to face Yonder Alonso, with the side benefit of keeping an eye on Davis. Francona thwarted the first part by pinch-hitting Yandy Diaz. As for the latter, Frare kept Davis from stealing, but a bluffed attempt was enough to pull Tim Anderson toward second and vacate the hole when Diaz hit a bouncer to the left side.
That’s how two weak ground balls put the Sox in a pickle. Melky Cabrera almost got them out of it by popping up a bunt attempt, and Caleb Frare dropped it and turned to fire to third. Frare’s throw nearly got past Yolmer Sanchez, but it didn’t count anyway, because home plate umpire Mike Winters invoked Rule 5.09(a)(12), which says an infielder cannot drop a popup intentionally to game the system:
An infielder intentionally drops a fair fly ball or line drive, with first, first and second, first and third, or first, second and third base occupied before two are out. The ball is dead and runner or runners shall return to their original base or bases;
APPROVED RULING: In this situation, the batter is not out if the infielder permits the ball to drop untouched to the ground, except when the Infield Fly rule applies.
Had Frare let it fall to the ground, it would’ve been game on, Then again, his throw to third suggested a double play would’ve been a tall order.
Whatever the case, the Sox still recorded their first out and had a chance for a game-ending double play. Renteria then called for Ian Hamilton to face Yan Gomes, but Hamilton nullified that move by drilling Gomes on the first pitch to load the bases for Jason Kipnis.
That plate appearance lasted longer — Hamilton got ahead 1-2, then missed with two fastballs to load the count. When Hamilton tried a changeup, Kipnis crushed it out to right for the walk-off grand slam.
It spoiled Dylan Covey’s attempt at a second incredibly unlikely 1-0 video. Granted, it wouldn’t quite rise to the level of beating Chris Sale at Fenway Park, but Carlos Carrasco has given the Sox fits over the years, and tonight was no different.
Carrasco struck out 11 Sox over 6⅔ innings, giving him 31 over 20⅔ innings against the Sox this season. He also allowed just four hits and a walk, which is in line with his other results in 2018.
What was different this time? The Sox finally tagged him for an earned run, as Daniel Palka poked a low fastball over the wall in center for a solo shot. Palka has homered in three straight games and has seven dingers over his last 13.
It was enough support for Covey, if not the bullpen. He allowed just two hits and three walks over six scoreless innings while striking out five.
He also managed to sidestep his typical third-inning derailment. Kevan Smith started the jam inning by letting strike three get past him, allowing Michael Brantley to reach with one out. Covey then walked Jose Ramirez, but not to clear trouble.
After a players-only mound conference, Covey got Edwin Encarnacion to pop out behind home plate, but he couldn’t find a low strike three on Donaldson, instead issuing a full-count walk to load the bases.
He could find the corners to Alonso. He got a called strike on a changeup at the top of the zone, nailed the inside corner on a two-seamer, then got a swinging strike over a fine changeup for the third strike and the third out.
Covey finished his night retiring the last 10 he faced. The ground ball was his friend, and while the Indians hit a few of them hard — one knocking over Yoan Moncada — they couldn’t find the holes. Covey induced 13 groundouts, with Encarnacion’s popout the only one through the air.
*The White Sox struck out 15 times, with Omar Narvaez the only one to avoid a K.
*Welington Castillo was a late scratch due to elbow pain he suffered during a swing in Baltimore and aggravated during batting practice.
Record: 59-92 | Box score
This one was a mismatch on paper from the start and was over as soon as Donaldson reached first. I was over it before that GS landed.
Losing’s no fun but the longer losses like this drag into the rebuild the more apparent it becomes how far much outside talent they’ll need to bring in to make the team competitive. It was pretty much always going to be the case but I think the volume of outside talent they’ll have to bring from outside was (is?) underestimated. I’m fine with having 90+ losses at this time next year as it’ll apply additional pressure to actually sign some tier 1 FAs.
Agree completely. The question is whether they can. What agent is going to let his top talent sign with these lovable losers?
Trying to build a pennant winning club in the minors and then have them magically appear in the majors is a myth.
15 strikeouts yesterday and 14 the night before. Maybe break a White Sox record for most strikeouts in a 3-game series? Stay tuned.
Also, Sox “fighting” with three other teams for that 3rd overall draft pick next year. And people say there’s no reason to watch.
The one thing that I dreaded all year was the Cubs clinching the division this weekend on the south side. Very happy that it can’t happen now.
It’s the small victories that matter right now.