After spending the last seven games taking a beating, the punching bag punched back.
The White Sox could’ve been written off at several points this evening given their body of work over their seven-game skid. Somehow, they absorbed and responded to every blow, even when Cleveland saved its best attempt at a knockout for late.
After Roberto Perez hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, James McCann re-tied it with a three-run shot of his own in the eighth. If that wasn’t enough, Eloy Jiménez made it back-to-back with his second homer of the game to finally give the Sox their first lead, which Aaron Bummer and Alex Colomé preserved.
The game already had moral victories. Jiménez had a huge night at the plate in support of Dylan Cease, who had his best stuff of the season. He almost got tagged with the loss because Marshall surrendered the two-out Perez homer that saddled Cease with two more runs on his tab, but his career-high 11 strikeouts reflect the quality of his game better than the run column. Zack Collins tripled in his first game back. Yoan Moncada drew three walks, and was a bad Tripp Gibson call from a 0-for-0 night.
But the Sox made it a real victory thanks to an insatiable hunger for hanging sliders. The Indians had a habit of serving them up not long after taking the lead.
For instance, when Cease gave up a solo shot on his second pitch of the game, Jiménez tied it up in the top of the second by hammering a rolling Mike Clevenger slider off the wall in center to score one of those Moncada walks.
After Leury García played Franmil Reyes’ line-drive single into a double to start the fifth and he came around to score on Perez’s single, Jiménez once again answered at his earliest opportunity. He had the only two hits off Clevenger, and this was a solo shot on another roller that tied the game at 2 heading into the stretch.
Rick Renteria tried to stick with Cease through seven, but he issued a pair of two-out walks as his pitch count crossed the 100 line, and so Renteria summoned Marshall. Marshall fell behind 2-0, then hung a changeup that Perez swatted out to left for what should’ve been a backbreaker.
Instead, the Sox spoiled the Indians’ feel-good story. Carlos Carrasco entered the game for his first appearance since a leukemia diagnosis, and while he received a warm ovation from the crowd at Progressive Field, the game turned south on him shortly. García and Tim Anderson greeted him with singles, and while he came back to strike out Jose Abreu on three pitches and Moncada on sixth (thanks to the gift 3-1 call), he couldn’t find one more good slider to get out of the inning.
He found two bad ones, and the Sox made him pay. James McCann jumped on the first one he saw and belted a resounding stunner to left, tying the game at 5. Jiménez tried to follow him, overswinging and falling into a 1-2 count. When Carrasco tried the putaway slider, he again left it up. Jiménez’s swing wasn’t as convincing as his earlier ones, but because it’s 2019, it doesn’t matter. His fly to right carried Yasiel Puig all the way to the wall, and it landed just behind the yellow stripe for his third hit of the game, and the one that decided it all.
Cease didn’t get the win for his effort — Marshall did, because wins can be stupid. Cease was the one who did the heavy lifting. After Lindor hoisted the second fastball he saw out of the park, Cease tried leaning on his breaking balls, and he finally had the command to thrive pitching backward. Cease only recorded 13 swinging strikes on 105 pitches, but he got 21 called strikes, including 11 on his curveball. Seventeen of his 29 curves went for strikes, and only one was put in play. That’s the kind of ratio that will allow him to not only survive against lefty-heavy lineups, but thrive against them.
*The White Sox won the strike zone for a change. They drew four walks against 12 strikeouts, while their pitchers struck out 16 to just two walks.
*Danny Mendick made his debut in the ninth inning after Collins’ one-out triple off the wall left of center, but he didn’t score. Renteria avoided a squeeze attempt with García at the plate, but wasn’t rewarded. García struck out, and Anderson lined out.
*Collins went 1-for-3 with that triple and a walk in his first game back, and he didn’t strike out. Daniel Palka went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, so he’s hitting .020 on the year.
*The Indians fell six games back of Minnesota with the loss. They’re now 67-4 when leading after seven, while the White Sox are 47-2.
Record: 61-77 | Box score | Highlights
Well there goes the number one pick.
Hahaha…Always a glass half-empty. You are a truly genuine White Sox through and through. :p
Great write-up! It’s write-ups like this that make me understand why the beat writers can’t do this. In order to capture the flavor of the game for me, the writer would need to express some of my rooting interest and also my frustration at the recent losses. Jim M. isn’t writing from a neutral viewpoint so he can post this great write-up that a beat writer couldn’t write.
I thought the ump was overly generous to the pitchers at the low end of the strike zone, but that seemed to go in both directions, so Clevinger and Cease both benefitted. Still, it was nice to see Cease recover after the leadoff homer. He could certainly have lost his cool, but he didn’t.
I also couldn’t make any sense of Francona’s decision to stick with Carrasco after he put the first two men on. I know it makes a great story, and the crowd got all revved up after generally being listless all night, but for a team that intends to be in a playoff race, that move made no sense.
Carrasco has accomplished a lot for the organization, and I’m sure the Indians are trying to find a way for him to contribute down the stretch. Carrasco has gone through a lot of adversity, and you can bet his teammates also want him to have a chance to succeed. If Francona doesn’t give him a fair chance, he takes a chance on losing the locker room. I believe Carrasco lost a start the other night, so maybe the Indians want to see if being a setup reliever might be a better fit for his unique situation.
After putting on the first two guys, Carrasco got the next two hitters out, so Francona’s move almost worked. We’re fortunate that Carrasco hung a few pitches and we pulled out a win. If Carrasco continues to struggle, Francona will have no choice but to alter his role, but if he turns it around, Cleveland has a valuable asset down the stretch.
Needed a game like this from Eloy and Cease real bad. That felt good. Cease stat line wont tell the tail like Eloy’s does but anyone who watched probably feels good about how both guys looked.
Collins smoked the ball a couple times too could have easily had another hit. He needs to play every day dont care what handed pitcher is on the mound.
It’s like they all read Jim’s article in the locker room before the game and said, “F— this guy!”
Not calling up Mercedes boils my blood. Like to an irrational level. As well as no pitchers but Covey (unless I missed something). Won’t even start about Robert. These clowns wasted a whole year (of Moncada and Giolito, and of all of our time).
Will Palka get another hit? Did anyone else have the feeling that Marshall would give up the lead?
Steve Stone initially thought Ricky should have left Cease in the game, then changed his mind when he pulled Cease. Marshall just doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff. When he falls behind, he’s in trouble.
Palka looks pretty clueless. Zach Collins, on the other hand, looks very good. Had a walk, almost hit a home run, and hit a rocket to 2nd base. I’m excited to see what he can do the rest of the year.
” Zack Collins tripled in his first game back”
At the time, I thought this at bat he handled himself like a professional hitter. Poised and in control.
I like the idea of following which team “won the strike zone.” It strikes me as comparable to controlling the middle of the board in chess or winning the turnover battle in football. You can win without it, but its a lot harder.
So out of boredom, I googled “worst wRC+ of all time”. Didn’t give me what I wanted to see but it did link an article about the Ten worst players in baseball history. Bill Bergen had a .395 OPS over 3228 plate appearances in his career (good for -14 WAR) and he still had a wRC+ of 16. At this point, I’m kind of on board with running Palka out there every day to see how low he can go but I’m pretty sure the Geneva Convention would have something to say on that.