For a brief moment in the eighth inning, the White Sox almost made it interesting. They’d trailed 6-0, but they took advantage of Colton Brewer wildness to put two on with a walk, and James McCann knocked one of them home with a single to center to spoil the shutout.
Up came Yoan Moncada from his strong side, and with him the faintest gleam of a fourth straight walk-off. It vanished quickly, as Moncada hit a well-struck grounder, but right at Michael Chavis for an inning-ending 4-3 putout.
And then Rick Renteria threw in the towel by using Jose Rondón for the ninth.
This wasn’t Matt Davidson, who lent credibility to the practice of pitching position players with a low-90s fastball and three-pitch arsenal. This was more like a Will Ferrell charity stunt. Rondón lobbed pitches toward home, most of them measuring below radar gun speeds. The ones that Statcast could clock averaged 55.5 mph, with the slowest at 50.7, and the fastest at 59.
It should’ve gone worse than it did. Rondón actually threw a scoreless inning — flyout, softball single through the right side, walk. popout, and then a smoked line drive right at Moncada. The White Sox did not rally in the ninth.
Rondón’s appearance would have been a welcome respite from a double-digit drubbing, or a team-first move after a pitcher got knocked out in the second. Down by five runs in an ordinary loss with an eight-man bullpen, it was still somewhat amusing, but also highly anticompetitive, even for a White Sox team that’s n the middle of a third straight season tanking.
Before then, the White Sox just got outplayed. Reynaldo Lopez pitched better than his line for most of the night, but he also gave up a pair of obscenely long homers that should’ve counted for more than they five runs they scored.
His fastball-first approach backfired when he didn’t show the Red Sox he could locate a secondary pitch in the first inning. After retiring the first two batters of the game, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts singled, and then Rafael Devers teed off on a grooved 94 mph fastball and planted it into the shrubbery on the batter’s eye.
Later in the sixth, he rolled a slider to Michael Chavis, and Chavis nearly reached the concourse with a 459-foot blast over the White Sox bullpen.
In between? López held the Red Sox scoreless from the second through the fifth, so it wasn’t all bad. He just paid for more mistakes than Chris Sale made on the evening.
The White Sox were likely to get their asses kicked by Sale at some point over his career, and tonight was the night. He struck out 10 over six scoreless innigns while allowing six baserunners — a double, two singles, a walk and two hit batters. The Sox didn’t get their first hit until Yoan Moncada singled with two outs in the fourth, and even then, Sandy Leon cut him down trying to steal second to end the inning.
That risk backfired for the Sox. For one, Sale threw high and wide to Rondón, setting up what would’ve been a 3-1 count. Compounding matters, Rondón led off the fifth with a double off the right-field wall, and Welington Castillo took a slider on the side of the foot to give the White Sox their best threat.
But then Sale pantsed Ryan Cordell and Adam Engel on seven pitches combined, then used a high and wide zone to strike out Leury García to power his way out of the jam.
Sale’s effort gave him his first win of the season. He’s now 1-5 with a 5.25 ERA.
*Renteria had only used Jose Ruiz, Josh Osich and Alex Colomé after López went five-plus. Ruiz walked in a run, but he also gave the Sox four outs.
*Engel took a Sale fastball on the tricep, then got some revenge by taking out Chavis with a clean slide at the pivot, forcing Chavis to lob his throw over the dugout.