It’s getting a little old to write a recap that contains some variation of “Though the White Sox won, they lost [important player].”
The Sox took the opener against the Brewers on Monday even though Carlos Rodón was limited to two innings with a shoulder issue. On Tuesday, they beat the Brewers despite Nick Madrigal and Edwin Encarnación departing early.
They returned to the win column tonight in literally wild fashion, but this time Aaron Bummer needed a trainer escort off the field. He tweaked his left biceps during a battle with Jose Ramirez with two on and two out in the seventh, and the White Sox said he will be reevaluated on Saturday.
Despite the loss of Bummer — and despite issuing eight walks and hitting a batter — the Sox still stitched together nine shutout innings against Cleveland.
Little about this game was pretty. Dylan Cease threw five shutout innings despite issuing leadoff walks in four of them. He threw just 52 of 99 pitches for strikes, as his 2019 high-and-gloveside fastball returned. Fortunately, he had the kind of changeup he never showed last year, and he was able to toggle between the offspeed and his slider to grab strikes in fastball counts, of which there were plenty.
(One of those changeups was letter-high to Sandy Leon, which resulted in an awkward checked swing with the bases loaded. It bounced calmly to third, where Yoán Moncada circled it, stepped on third and fired to first in one smooth motion to defuse a bases-loaded jam in the second.)
The relievers weren’t much more precise. Rick Renteria showed his intent to win this game by bringing in Bummer for the sixth. He walked two batters over his 1⅔ innings, and he also bounced a throw to first on a comebacker that should’ve ended the seventh. That left him out to face Ramirez, and he didn’t make it out of that at-bat intact.
Evan Marshall came in for him and survived loud lineouts to right that ended the seventh and eighth innings. He also issued his own walk to Carlos Santana.
Only when Alex Colomé entered could everybody breathe easier. Partially because Adam Engel sent Nick Wittgren’s first pitch of the eighth halfway up the bleachers in left field that made it a two-run game, and partially because Colomé carved up the bottom of Cleveland’s order with two strikeouts around a tapper back to the mound.
Before Engel’s blast, the Sox also struggled to capitalize on their opportunities, though they had far fewer of them. The Sox had Aaron Civale on the ropes in the first inning with Luis Robert walking and Moncada singling him to third, but José Abreu chased a 3-1 slider out of the zone to load the count, then bounced into a run-scoring double play.
The Sox had the same situation in the sixth inning after Engel reached on an even more embarrassing PFP error by Civale, and took third on Robert’s single up the middle. Civale worked over Moncada with a strong three-pitch sequence, then got Abreu to bounce into another double play. That one ended the inning.
The White Sox outhit the Indians 6-4, but thanks to all the walks from their pitchers, they only had half the at-bats with runners in scoring position. The Sox were 0-for-4 with four stranded, while the Indians went 1-for-8 while stranding 10. Just like shedding a productive player in every W, that’s not really a great template for sustained success.
*The White Sox threw a nine-inning shutout while walking eight batters for the sixth time in team history. The last time was Sept. 27, 2017, in a Tyler Danish start against the Tigers. Before then, you have to go all the way back to 1974.
*James McCann struggled to get pitches on the edges from Jordan Baker, but he had a great night behind the plate in terms of blocking, creative pitch-calling, and he gunned down a runner, too. He called 25 changeups from Cease, which blew away his previous career high of 18 in a game.
*Zack Collins dropped to 0-for-13 on the season.
*Robert bounced back from his golden sombrero by going 1-for-3 with a walk and a K from the leadoff spot. Eloy Jiménez handled every chance in left field without issue.
*Matt Foster is the opener for Saturday’s game, and the White Sox are playing on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” for the first time since 2013, since the Cardinals and Cubs are postponed due to St. Louis’ COVID-19 issues.
Record: 8-6 | Box score | Statcast
I know each game counts more this season compared to past years, but I’m not crazy about Renteria trying to manage this game like it was a playoff contest. Bummer should not be trying to complete two-inning stints at this point of the season, and he shouldn’t be pitching before the seventh or eighth inning. If we’re in the final few weeks of the season, still battling for a playoff spot, then the strategy used today is more acceptable. Pitchers did not have their normal amount of weeks to get ready for this regular season and you would think that with Rodon, Lopez and Lambert already being shelved that Renteria and Cooper would take proper precautions. But they didn’t, and at this rate, we won’t have a pitching staff by Sept. 15.
On the bright side, it was great to see Cease gut out a win and Engel continue his fine all-around play. Engel actually is more of a threat than Mazara at the plate these days, and he plays much better defense. Once Anderson comes back, it might be worth considering benching Mazara in favor of a Garcia-Engel platoon in right, as long as Mendick keeps producing at second.
Boy is it a nice departure from recent years to hear discussions about how our bench guys are good enough to deserve more playing time.
Bummer came in to pitch to Lindor and Santana in the sixth in a on-run game. Depending on his pitch count in the sixth, he may or may not have stayed for the seventh. That is a smart use of your bullpen assets, leaving lesser relievers to handle lesser hitters..
I disagree with this entirely.
Rick Renteria put Aaron Bummer on the field to face the oppossing team’s middle of the order in a game he lead by one run. That is exactly the situation I want to see Aaron Bummer him. Saving him for the 7th+ inning for no reason is bad 1980s managing.
As for going for 2 innings, I didnt have any major issues with that either. Bummer threw more than one inning multiple times last year. We have a scheduled bullpen day the next day, and its a 1 run game at present. Leave your best reliever who has thrown 2 innings before out there to soak up another inning in a 1 run game, and potentially save another high leverage reliever (probably Cordero) for tomorrow, which is sorely needed.
It was the right decision in my opinion. Injuries happen
You are correct about Bummer throwing more than one inning on multiple occasions last year. But that was last year, under normal circumstances. This year, pitchers only had about three weeks of preparation in summer camp before games started to count. As Steve Stone has pointed out, the reason that spring training is normally six weeks or so is that pitchers need that much time to get their arms ready, especially to throw breaking pitches. Thus, the best strategy is to not push your pitchers too much during the early part of this season.
Renteria got his victory last night, but he might have cost himself several more down the road by taking unnecessary risks with his best bullpen piece.
In-Game Injury Counter:
– 14 games played
– 7 players removed from games due to injury
And at least once a game I see Moncada wince and assume he’ll have to come out. He’s had impressive performance thus far given all the aches and pains, but he’ll need to keep it up because he looks like he may never play another game 100% healthy again.
The lack of breaks might be hurting. The White Sox have played 14 games with only one day off. Currently riding on a 14 consecutive days games to play. 60 game seasons are tough.
Moncada definitely has a case of Lebron-itis. He is always wincing, scrunching his face, tweaking something, and usually seems OK. I think we just have to get used to watching the pained faces.
Carlos Santana doing a Barry Bonds without power thing. The guy has 8 hits and 17 walks. just 1 homer for a weird looking triple slash of .182/410/250. That might be the only time I have seen an elevated OBP feeling so empty.
Also, don’t look now, but with half the PAs, McCann has more fWAR than Grandal. McCann also has a more homers (2) than Grandal (0), and McCann is doing all this while having a low BABIP (.308) whereas Grandal has a hard to sustain BABIP of .385. McCann has no walks though, Grandal leads the team with 7. Some tidbits from a very small sample size. The only conclusion here is that McCann resurgence in last year was not a fluke.
It takes an epidemic for the Sox (who dat???)to play on ESPN.
ESPN’s promos for Sunday are going to be confusing, showing Cleveland playing themselves or Boston. “What’s a White Sox? Must have meant Red Sox.”
The crew will look awfully silly trying to broadcast the game from either Fenway or Wrigley