Jon Lester, what with his left-handedness, his soft-tossing, his league-low swinging strike rate and his nevertheless-admirable 2.74 ERA, was going to run into regression at some point in the near future.
Perhaps due to the first element, the White Sox were more than happy to provide it tonight.
Lester served up four home runs to four different White Sox hitters en route to a fourth-inning knockout. He and the Cubs trailed 8-0 by the time he departed, and rather than attempt to make a game of it against Dallas Keuchel, David Ross decided to pull multiple regulars in hopes of more of a fight Saturday and Sunday.
Luis Robert broke the seal on this one in the second, ripping a 2-1 fastball almost through the bleachers in left at 113 mph for a two-run blast.
More big blasts followed. In the third, Tim Anderson doubled over the head of an Albert Almora Jr. who seemed to lose the arc of it in Wrigley’s shadowy center field. Anderson moved to third on a Yasmani Grandal single, and both came home when José Abreu scooped a second consecutive curveball out to left for a 5-0 Sox lead.
The Sox doubled up in the fourth. Danny Mendick ripped an 0-1 cutter on a line out to left to start the inning, and Grandal sent Lester on his way with a back-breaking blast almost all the way up the bleachers.
The Sox tacked on a couple of lengthier solo shots in the last third of the game — 466 feet for Eloy Jiménez in the seventh, and 452 feet for Abreu in the ninth. That gave them six homers for the second time this week, which gives them 24 homers of their last seven days. The White Sox say it’s a record, and it make sense, given that they’ve won six of those games.
Dallas Keuchel benefited from the outburst this time, as he posted his sixth strong start in as many tries. He threw eight innings of one-run ball, only losing the shutout as his pitch count approached a season-high-for-anybody 114 in his final frame of work.
He could’ve lost the shutout earlier, as the Cubs loaded the bases on him in the sixth with two singles (one of them off Keuchel’s leg) and a squibber up the line that Abreu fumbled while paying attention to the runner on third. But Keuchel escaped unscathed with a popout, followed by another comebacker he dodged for a 4-3 double play.
Defensive positioning came up big for the White Sox all night, with Anderson having a particularly active night. He handled five groundouts over the first seven innings, then three lineouts over the last two.
Thanks to the defense, we can say that Keuchel “scattered” six hits and a walk over his eight innings while striking out three. He’s now 4-2 with a 2.65 ERA over what is the first half of his first year with the White Sox. Hopefully he shows no adverse affects from the long leash, but the White Sox do have two off days next week.
*The Cubs, coming off a lot of doubleheaders against the Cardinals, chose to sit Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward over the second half of the game, which helped diminish the threat of that potential sixth-inning rally.
*Anderson won the first night of the battle of Chicago shortstops, going 1-for-5 with strong defense. Javier Báez went 1-for-3, but he grounded into a double play and committed an error that put an unearned run on Lester’s tab.
*Luis González got plunked in his first plate appearance, but he now has a batting average after coming to the plate for JIménez in the ninth. He struck out.
*The White Sox only needed Jace Fry out of the bullpen, while the Cubs used four relievers. They do have Kyle Hendricks going Saturday, though.
Record: 16-11 | Box score | Statcast
i was pretty disappointed that luis robert didn’t hit his home run farther.
Or further, jk, idk
1 game out of first. Quite a difference from a week ago.
I try not to get too caught up in the Crosstown Classic rivalry but damn, that one felt really good.
That was a lot of fun. Everything seemed to go right for us.
I was glad to see it, but I thought that Ross made a bad move in pulling some of his stars so early in the game. Keuchel has had a tendency to struggle his third time through the order, and keeping those guys in the game until, say, at least the seventh or eighth inning would have put a lot more pressure on us. I just don’t think guys should be pulled in the fourth inning in that ballpark, even when you’re eight runs down. Big leads are not automatically safe at Wrigley.
That probably had something to do with 5 games in 3 days earlier this week.
Maybe, but to be fair that was only 37 innings in 3 days, which is more like 4.1 games.
This season has really been a sprint for all the players, and I expect each separate game has some mental and emotional toll to it in a way that just playing a regular double header in a regular season might not. But in terms of pure time on the field and such, the “5 games in 3 days” narrative is not really accurate.
I meant the reason Ross pulled his players in the middle of the game, not the reason the Sox whooped them.
The Cubs had the previous day off, so I’m not sure if it actually was the best move for his team.
I think sometimes managers make an out-of-the-box move so if they somehow go on a winning streak afterward, the media will find a way to give them “credit” for the turnaround, when in all likelihood their maneuver had nothing to do with the sudden success. In any event, if we get ahead by a big margin in a future game against them, I hope that he does the same thing.
Love it whenever Eloy homers against the Cubes.
Did Eloy’s HR hit the railing in below the scoreboard or the seats behind the railing?
I thought it hit the scoreboard initially, but it was short by a couple feet.
Robert, Grandal back, Lopez today…. The injury roster shrinks a bit….
We’ll see if Lopez returning is a cause for celebration. I hope so, but the burden is on him to prove to me he’s ready to be a decent major league pitcher.
The good news is we got a lot of bullpen available today. Ricky needs to have a quick hook.
And they’re well rested.
I totally agree with you. Perhaps he has learned something from watching Keuchel pitch, but probably not.
I’m prepared for a four-inning outing from Lopez, with a ton of walks, a lot of pitches, and probably three or four runs allowed. I hope I’m wrong, though.