Having already secured a series win with an easy Reynaldo López start of all things, the White Sox played with house money by sending out Jonathan Stiever in his MLB debut for the sweep.
And you know what? They won that, too.
Stiever almost didn’t make it out of the first inning thanks to jitters and control problems, which each problem exacerbating the other. He settled down to get the Sox into the fourth with the game tied at 1, and the offense and bullpen carried it the rest of the way.
The White Sox swept the Tigers for the second time this season, finishing with a 9-1 record against Detroit. They also locked in a .500 record for the season, which basically guarantees them a postseason spot. Their magic number for the time being is six, with results of the Mariners game pending.
Stiever almost buried himself in the first inning as he struggled to locate anything that wasn’t a fastball, and even that had problems. He walked the first two batters, and was lucky that Victor Reyes was called out on a Tim Anderson swipe tag attempting to advance on a wild pitch because the replay didn’t show contact. A grooved fastball to Miguel Cabrera and a spinning slider to Jorge Bonifacio put the Tigers up 1-0, but Stiever struck out Daz Cameron with the bases loaded to sidestep disaster.
Stiever didn’t allow another baserunner the rest of his afternoon, retiring the final nine batters he faced before Rick Renteria came out with an enthusiastic hook with two outs in the fourth inning. Jimmy Cordero opened a bullpen effort that held down the Tigers while the offense got up to speed.
Spencer Turnbull made the White Sox work harder than the last time he faced them. The Sox had to apply pressure over multiple innings in order to break through for good, but eventually the effort paid off.
In the second, James McCann singled, stole second and scored on Yoán Moncada’s double to the gap. In the fourth, Eloy Jiménez kept his extra-base hitting streak to six games with a solo shot. He didn’t barrel it up, but it still gave the Sox the lead.
Turnbull finally caved in the fifth. Danny Mendick won a nine-pitch battle with a single through the middle, and while the Sox played for one run, they ended up scoring three. Jarrod Dyson bunted Mendick to second, and Tim Anderson made “scoring position” mean something with an inside-outed RBI single to right.
Yasmani Grandal kept the line moving with a walk, and Anderson then scored from second himself on José Abreu’s poked grounder through the right side for a 5-1 lead.
The White Sox bullpen had it from there, encountering only the mildest of threats. Cordero worked around a leadoff walk in the fifth, Matt Foster allowed two-out hits in the sixth and seventh with nothing else, and while Steve Cishek couldn’t carry his 1-2-3 eighth fortune into the ninth, he made it a save situation for Alex Colomé, who went three-up-three-down and never brought the tying run to the plate.
*The White Sox combined to go 18-2 against the Royals and Tigers, while the Indians are 9-7, and the Twins 9-9.
*Anderson went 2-for-4, hitting above .500 against Detroit for the season (20-for-39).
*Mendick made a couple of nice plays at second base in the form of a leaping grab and a diving stab.
*Stiever’s first inning included an interminable four-minute wait for the review on Anderson’s tag of Reyes.
Record: 30-16 | Box score | Statcast
I’d like to see Stiever stick around. The way he bounced back was wonderful.
At the moment, the Sox have the best winning percentage in the American League (a hair ahead of Tampa Bay) and are two back of the Dodgers for best record in baseball.
Two weeks remain in the season.
Sox with the best record in the American League, which is nice.
Might be fairer to say instead that the Sox are the American League team with the best record, given the schedule distortions this year. Still, works either way come playoff seeding.
Hoping they can translate this kind of dominance against the dregs of the ALC to the next couple of years. Beating the teams that you are supposed to beat is a sure way to be in the playoff conversation until the end of the season.
The point about how Cleveland and Minnesota have fared against the Tigers and Royals is also poignant. Nobody was calling Cleveland a mediocre team last year when they padded their record with 18-1 against the Tigers. When a team with good pitching matches up against a bad offense, they’re supposed to win those games.
Likewise, a good Sox offense feasted on mediocre Tigers and Royals pitchers all year, as they should.
I would just like to point out something: In the sixth innings, Yoan looked at four straight balls but somehow the Umpire Dan Bellino had the count at 2-2. I thought this was gonna be it, Yoan regressing to his 2018 self and would get punched out on a breaking ball three inches off the plate called strike three or he would desperately stab at a hopeless waste pitch but no! Yoan took Ball 3 and then rapped a curveball on the edge of the zone for a single. What a difference a couple of seasons makes.
Anderson has been just been a hit machine this year, a stint on the IL didn’t even slow him down. He’s my pick for MVP if he doesn’t break down during this last stretch.
Did anyone else catch Stone’s explanation of why he didn’t think the MVP should be the “best player award”? I couldn’t tell if he was just doing a poor job of explaining his point or if even he didn’t know what he was trying to say. Sounded like a long-winded way of saying “if your team doesn’t make the playoffs, you shouldn’t be MVP”, which is the same stupid argument from the writers every year. I was confused by his point that Trout was somehow less valuable to his team because they don’t win as much. Would he care to take a stab at what their record would be without Trout?
If the point is to win championships vs. to win games, if you don’t make the playoffs, it doesn’t matter what your record was. There is no value in going from 60-100 to 70-90 (within the context of the season. Obviously in the longer term, you want to see progress even if you don’t make the playoffs).
It’s in individual award. I just don’t see the point in making the team’s record part of the equation. Like MrStealYoBase says below, I can see using it as a tie-breaker. But are we really voting a 6-8 win player MVP over a 10 win Trout just because the rest of his team sucked? That seems… odd.
Not sure what he was trying to say yesterday, but his stance on previous broadcasts has been that team record should be the tiebreaker, which I kind of agree with. Team record shouldn’t disqualify a player from winning the MVP, nor should it automatically put them in the conversation. There are playoff teams every year whose best player is not necessarily an MVP candidate.
But if two players are within spitting distance of one another statistically, team performance might be something worth factoring in. Especially in a short season like this where a lot of the advanced stats are pretty divergent from one another with the small sample size.
Re: the long review delay in the first inning, I have to agree with Stone’s push for a time limit. In fact, I might go as far to say get rid of the challenges entirely and let someone in the booth stop the game if they think they see something that needs to be reversed. I know they want to get it right, but they also keep stressing pace of play and this isn’t helping.