Considering the White Sox hadn’t handled Corey Kluber a loss since July 24, 2015, there are a lot of ways to illustrate the shock of today’s score.
I mean, Kluber came into the game 9-0 with a 1.81 ERA over his last 11 starts against the Sox. He pantsed them in four starts last year, posting a 0.96 ERA over 26 innings.
Somehow, the White Sox scored more runs against him over the first 1⅓ innings this afternoon than they did all of last year. And those were the first four runs the White Sox had scored in the first three innings of any game this year.
Scratch “somehow,” though, because the reasons were apparent. Kluber made a lot of mistakes in the early innings, and just when it looked like he’d found his form, he fell right back out of it.
The White Sox offense snapped into gear on the first pitch, as Leury Garcia lined a first-pitch sinker to center. He’d eventually get hung up to dry after a pitch glanced off Roberto Perez’s glove and into the torso of home plate umpire Angel Hernandez, but the Sox kept the line moving behind him. Yoan Moncada walked, Jose Abreu’s chopper over the mound was booted by shortstop Eric Stamets, and Yonder Alonso put the Sox on the board with a single to right center.
Still, Kluber remained on the ropes. He gave up a 110-mph single to Eloy Jimenez that loaded the bases, then walked Daniel Palka to force home a second run. He should’ve walked Jose Rondon, but a wild 3-1 swing bailed him out, and Rondon had to settle for beating out a double-play attempt for an RBI fielder’s choice.
The top of the order did the job all afternoon, and it was plenty of support for Carlos Rodon, who threw a buttload of sliders, and most of them good. Rodon struck out nine while allowing just an unearned run on two hits and a walk, and he had to pitch around some miserable support.
In the first inning alone, Moncada bounced a throw past Abreu, then Rondon couldn’t keep another grounder in the infield, putting runners on the corners. A third grounder went through the right side for a Carlos Santana RBI single, but Rodon rallied for two strikeouts, capping the second with an emphatic “YES!”.
Rodon and the defense steadied enough, but Kluber never did, especially against the top of the order, which featured:
*Garcia going 4-for-5, including a couple of grounders off the foot of the pitcher.
*Moncada launching a double off the highest part of the Progressive Field’s tall left-center wall and a missile of a homer to right, along with two walks and zero strikeouts
*Abreu continued to own Kluber with a second-inning RBI single through the left side and a two-run double in the fourth that chased Cleveland’s ace from the game.
Rodon recovered from the 28-pitch first to make it six innings on 103 pitches. That’s not a terrible pitch count considering he recorded seven innings’ worth of outs. Yolmer Sanchez’s ugly defensive start continued when he dropped a popup in shallow right field. (Compounding matters, Rondon dropped Garcia’s recovery throw at second base for two errors on the play.)
The defense was just about the only ugly takeaway, at least if you ignore the two-run homer Nate Jones allowed to Hanley Ramirez in the ninth that casts a darker pall over his future. The Sox committed three errors, and Rondon’s sliding catch by the tarp in left-field foul territory was the only highlight that attempted to address the deficit.
*Rodon threw an equal number of sliders and fastballs (49), along with five changeups. The slider got 14 swinging strikes.
*Moncada is batting .450/.522/.900 through his first five games, with an equal amount of walks and strikeouts (three).
*Palka is still hitless on the season, although he did have the bases-loaded walk to augment his 0-for-3 day.
*Sanchez might look worse overall, as he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and his third error of the season.