Royals 9, White Sox 6: Bullpen breakdown rare, at least for now

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the first two games of this series, it’s:

  1. Baseball is more enjoyable when it’s closer to three hours than four.
  2. The White Sox bullpen is good, but maybe not cover-more-than-half-the-game-on-a-regular-basis good.

Dylan Cease was not good, and while he escaped the game without getting tagged with a decision, his early exit set the stage for a bullpen collapse. Zack Burdi stood at the center of it, giving up five runs over the course of one out in the seventh for his first loss.

The White Sox made a game of it late, and added to the sense of mutually assured destruction when a swinging bunt resulted in injuries for both teams. Yoán Moncada hit a dribbler up the first base line, Ian Kennedy hurt his leg trying to field it, and Moncada ended up doubled over at second when a throwing error forced him to hobble another 90 feet.

Really, little about this game was pretty. Cease allowed just a solo homer on the day in terms of hits, but he lasted just 4⅓ innings because he walked six. It’s hard to walk six Royals in a series, much less half a game, and even more so with Ryan Blakney’s fish-eyed strike-calling.

Even though the zone bulged on both sides, Cease still couldn’t find it. He threw just 45 of his 93 pitches for strikes, and the White Sox needed 188 pitches to get through nine innings overall.

On the other side of the plate, the White Sox should’ve been able to do more damage against Brady Singer, but the Sox had a habit of getting in their own way. José Abreu and Yasmani Grandal combined to go 1-for-10 with six strikeouts in the middle of the order, and stranded 10 runners between them. That’s remarkable since the Sox stranded only seven as a team. Tim Anderson went 4-for-5, but one of those hits was a leadoff double, and he was picked off second shortly after.

The Sox went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. One was a hilarious Nick Madrigal RBI single on a face-high, face-threatening fastball that whizzed past Singer at 53.3 mph, but was able to split the middle of a drawn-in infield and trickle into center for an RBI single in his first game back.

Edwin Encarnación added a two-run shot, following Eloy Jiménez’s leadoff walk with a towering fly that drifted over the wall in left. That made franchise history, as the White Sox had never hit 52 homers in a single month before.

Unfortunately, the Sox offense didn’t surface again until the ninth. Kennedy was walked off on Friday, and he limped off on Saturday after giving up three more runs over one-third of an inning. Luis Robert greeted him with a single, Madrigal singled him to second, and Anderson doubled him home. That was the second hit with runners in scoring position. Moncada’s counted as an error, and we’ll see if the Sox finally are forced to take a hit with an IL stint.

Bullet points:

*Burdi has given up four homers over 6⅓ innings. He’s conquered the velocity issue, but the slider isn’t sharp.

*Ross Detwiler came in with the Sox trailing by four, and he left with the Sox trailing by six, as he gave up his first two runs of the season on four hits over just four outs.

*Grandal also yielded a passed ball to add to his rough afternoon, but Cease escaped with a double-play ball.

*Today marks just the second time this season the White Sox lost while scoring more than five runs. The other was Opening Day.

Record: 20-13 | Box score | Statcast

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Shingos Cheeseburgers

Walking 7 and going 2 for 12 wRISP? That’s a whoopsies!

Encarnacion and Mazara both with sub 85 wRC+ ain’t gonna cut it.

HallofFrank

Edwin is heating up, but Mazara looks lost. Even his hits just seem lucky.

tommytwonines

His last name is spelled that way because he can’t C.

Good one

tommytwonines

comment image

Walleye Vision

Oddvark

Is it just me, or does Grandal look too patient — leaning to passive — at the plate? The walk-off on Friday was an exception to the rule, as much of the time he seems to watch many hitable pitches in the middle of the zone fly by as he tries to get walked.

Not sure if the stats back me up. I’m sure his swing rate on balls out of the zone is low in a good way, but I wonder if his swing rate on balls in the zone is similarly low in a bad way.

LuBob DuRob

Ominous headline. Hope Bummer is back soon. Not that I want Ricky to have the quick hook all the time, I Just don’t want him to follow a pre-game script without reading the results. Seemed pretty clear in couple of instances lately that guys didn’t have their A stuff. Fingers crossed it’s just an inevitable blip.

iowasox1971

I’m not sure why Grandal was catching in this game. Usually, it’s customary for the guy who catches a game the previous night to not be behind the plate for a day game. He was awful at the plate and behind the plate in this one. McCann would have been fresher, and he certainly should have been catching this one.

Our relievers are all showing that even though they’ve been pitching well, you can’t always count on them. I didn’t have a problem with pulling Cease today, because he was all over the place and his pitch count was up there, but this bullpen implosion is something to consider in future games. If a starter has decent command and is just a tiny bit tired, he still might be the best option at that particular time.

Mazara made a nice catch in right, but he again did not look very good at the plate. I know Edwin’s been getting some criticism, but at least he hits a big homer every now and then.

I don’t know what to think of the Moncada situation. It might finally be time to put him on the IL and put Mendick or Yolmer at third. I just hope that what Moncada has with his sore leg is not too serious.

burning-phoneix

You see that Madrigal single? That boy is gonna finish with a .300 career batting average with a .302 OBP (those extra .002 is from HBP)

shaggy65

…and a .301 slugging

texag10

But he’s going to have more hits than strikeouts, which is new

MarketMaker

Surprised you didn’t weigh in on Renteria’s bullpen management. Seems to be a recurring issue for him. Burdi went HR-K-1B-BB, then there was a mound visit, and his next two pitches missed the zone by 3’ apiece. Not sure why he was even facing that batter, but he went on to finish that AB (1B) AND pitch to the next guy (HR).

Seems like Rick could have lifted Burdi multiple times before he did.