For the first nine innings of tonight’s contest, it was a brilliant masterpiece provided by Lucas Giolito and Shane Bieber. Both had their “A” grade stuff and refused to buckle. Unfortunately for the Chicago White Sox, they are still having issues figuring out how to play the 10th inning as Cleveland found a way to win 2-0.
With the way Shane Bieber commanded his pitches, it probably didn’t matter who was in the White Sox lineup. Jose Abreu, Danny Mendick, and Adam Eaton were the only players to record a hit against Bieber (all singles). Tony La Russa’s plan of having Yoan Moncada, Nick Williams, Yasmani Grandal, and Jake Lamb batting together to have four consecutive lefties failed miserably. The quartet combined were 0-for-16 with eight strikeouts.
What caused problems for the Sox hitters against Bieber was his knuckle curve. Throwing it 41% of the time, Bieber was able to generate a 42% whiff rate. Even when the pitch hung up a bit in the zone, no Sox hitters could take advantage of the opportunity.
Yermin Mercedes almost did the ninth inning. Pinch-hitting for Danny Mendick, Mercedes got jammed on an inside knuckle curve but got enough on it to travel down the right-field line. As the ball landed, it appeared that it hit chalk, resulting in a double, but at least a lead-off single. The call was a foul ball, and after checking in with the replay office, there wasn’t enough video evidence to show that the ball was fair. Mercedes would ground out later in the at-bat, but the Sox kept Bieber working. Eaton laced a single to left field, and Abreu walked to give Moncada a chance to be the hero.
Instead, Bieber threw four straight knuckle curves to punch Moncada out, ending the threat and his night. At 113 pitches, Bieber went 9 IP 3 H 0 R 1 BB 11 K.
Giolito didn’t get into the ninth inning as his pitch count got to triple digits as he started the eighth inning. Mainly sticking with the trusted fastball/changeup combo, Giolito only faced trouble dealing with Eddie Rosario. A leadoff double in the second got Cleveland in business, but Giolito stranded Rosario. An infield single in the fourth inning gave Rosario a multi-hit game against Giolito, but his teammates had a terrible time making solid contact.
La Russa had Giolito start the eighth inning, and on a 3-2 count against Roberto Perez, the changeup sailed up and out of the strike zone. The leadoff walk was enough for La Russa to lift Giolito for Evan Marshall. After a sacrifice bunt, Marshall shut down Cleveland striking out Ben Gamel and getting Cesar Hernandez to foul out. Giolito’s night was done with the stranded runner, and it was a dandy of a finish going 7 IP 3 H 0 R 2 BB 8 K.
Liam Hendriks came in the ninth inning and had his best performance in a Sox uniform, striking out two batters as Cleveland went out in order.
Like in their previous extra-innings game against Kansas City earlier in the homestand, La Russa went with Crochet to start the 10th inning. Franmil Reyes was the starting runner on second base and Josh Naylor at-bat. This combination did not scream a sacrifice bunt chance with two sluggers involved. On the very first pitch, Naylor hit a comebacker to Crochet, but he couldn’t handle it bouncing out of his glove. When Crochet got to the ball, he didn’t bother making a throw to first base allowing Naylor to reach.
The umpires convened and determined that Naylor’s swing made contact with Grandal’s glove, and thus Catcher’s Interference was awarded. Reyes was still allowed to move to third on the play.
Yu Chang, who helped the White Sox last night with his errant throw, hit a short fly to shallow right field. Eaton did an excellent job calling off Nick Madrigal to make the catch, and Reyes didn’t bother tagging up. With one out and Roberto Perez batting, an inning-ending double play was still possible to keep the game scoreless.
Crochet got his grounder, but Leury Garcia filling in for Mendick played on the grass, and didn’t have the best angle. All he could do is prevent the grounder from reaching the outfield, but it was enough for Reyes to score. Then pinch-hitter Amed Rosario gave Cleveland an extra cushion with an RBI double to make it 2-0. La Russa replaced Crochet with Matt Foster, who did a good job avoiding any more runs to score. However, the damage was done.
For the White Sox 10th inning, Williams struck out, and Grandal grounded out to second base. Needing a home run, Lamb got ahead 3-0 in the count against James Karinchak. A high fastball was called for strike one, and Lamb swung through a fastball for strike two. Lamb made good contact on the final pitch, which carried well to the right-field warning track but fell short of going over the fence by two feet.
- Lucas Giolito’s season ERA is now 2.55
- Shane Bieber’s strikeout totals per start: 12, 12, and 11.
- Cleveland is now 3-0 the past two seasons in Bieber vs. Giolito matchups with a +4 run differential.
Record: 5-6 | Box Score | StatCast
The pitching was great. That’s what this game should be remembered for. But I can’t help myself on just one point:
January 19th, 2021- “Our team is on the floor” -Rick Hahn
April 13th, 2021 – NRIs Nick Williams and Jake Lamb bat 5th and 7th against Shane Bieber
If it’s not in the Hahn quotes Hall of Shame by now, “our team is on the floor” is well on its way.
If you’d told me on March 13th that Williams and Lamb would be two of our batters in the 10th inning of an April 13th game I would have started crying.
I hate that stupid runner on second rule. Its Little league stuff.
It is ostensibly still about COVID, but I suspect it will stay with us in some form. It should at least be pushed back a couple innings. In a way, I am more bugged about the 7 inning doubleheader used even for day/night games which penalizes ticket buyers two innings. At least there is a COVID logic to it if games have to be rescheduled for that reason and doubleheaders are piling up. But if games are only rescheduled because of rain, teams should be able to play 9
I like it more than I thought I would. I’d prefer it start in the 11th or 12th, but it makes for fun/unique strategy, I like seeing the bunts, and it helps cut down the 15+ inning slogs. Because I’m EST, I normally tune out of night games that go into extras. But I stay tuned in now because I’m pretty sure something will happen soon.
It would be a lot better, however, if the White Sox could get better at winning it.
Maybe it’s because I’ve already seen the Sox crack under pressure twice, but I feel like it gives the away team a big advantage. Scoring runs isn’t supposed to be that easy, and it puts the home team’s backs against the wall.
How so? If the road team doesn’t score, the home team just goes all in on moving that one runner home. The road team still needs to try to maximize runs.
If anything, I’d think it’s the opposite. Like the CFB playoffs, it’s an advantage to know exactly what you need. If the road team doesn’t score, you play for one. But, if they put up 2+ (like last night), you can forget about the small ball and play for a crooked number.
It only seems like a big advantage for the away team when you have Nick Williams and Jake Lamb coming up for the home team.
The pitching was fantastic. Bieber was otherworldly, though. I don’t know if he made a mistake the entire night.
Not pinch hitting for Nick Williams in the 10th has to be one of the dumbest decisions La Russa has made so far. And that is saying a lot.
Nick Williams is hitless thus far in 2021. His wRC+ is 2. Up to that at bat he was 0/3 with 2 K’s.
Meanwhile sitting on our bench…
Are the chances that Collins or Vaughn come thru with a hit very likely? No, but you have to give your team the best opportunities to win. Batting Williams instead of Collins or Vaughn is not giving your team the best chance to win.
Vaughn in LF didn’t make sense to me to start the season so I’m going to stay consistent and say that Mercedes’ absence from the lineup was the most egregious absence. Mercedes had by far the most competitive at-bat vs. Bieber, and here’s the part that gets me: he did it by looking the EXACT SAME he has all year. Mercedes short track record projected to quality AB’s against Bieber that the Sox desparately needed. Instead, Jake Lamb is the agent slowing the hot start for our best ROY candidate.
Haven’t seen too much social media discussion on the decision I most first-guessed, however. Hendriks entering T9 was definitely the right move I wanted to see, because at that point I felt the best chance for the Sox to score was B10 with a RISP to start and against probably anyone BUT Bieber (or maybe Bieber >110 pitches), and Hendriks can easily bridge those two full innings. I thought Hendriks coming out for T10 was a slam dunk. But instead, after only 14 pitches, he’s replaced by Crochet who has already messed up the 10th inning recently? I didn’t get that one. I felt like leaving Hendriks in was the easiest bullpen choice of the game. And I really wanted this game… losing Gio starts sucks.
The way they’ve utilized Hendriks is puzzling to me. We paid him big money to be the MAN in the bullpen. Instead, he’s getting handled with kids gloves.
Also, color me unimpressed with Crochet so far. I know it’s early, but he seems to be different pitcher throwing 95-96 then when he is throwing 99-100.
Crochet’s performance this year is more digestible when you just ignore everything we saw last year. The 99-101 stuff we saw was probably always unrepresentative especially if the long-term plan is the rotation. If he is currently a transitional project out the pen, then considering how young and inexperienced he is, I’m still impressed with the fastball and the new breaking stuff he is working on.
It just seems like hitters are all over his fastball. You’re right, he’ still young. But I worry this is another guy like Vaughn who may have been a little rushed.
I’m also may be thinking irrationally because this team is so unbelieveably frustrating.
Totally agree on both points. Against one of the best starters in the AL, why tie your hands behind your back by benching your hottest hitter at the moment?
And after the 9th I said, “Hendriks should just keep going until they hit him”. Seems like the best pure strikeout guy available should be the go-to move in extras, when you know that any hit is going to likely be a run.
Its amazing how fast off season issues can immediately effect the regular season. Lack of spending created a situation where impact talent and depth were gonna be slim and immediately injuries made that situation much more dire and of course a lets say peculiar managerial hire was always gonna be second guessed. TLR has done nothing so far to put anyone at ease that he was the right hire, and Hahn roster construction while hampered by Jerrys ridiculous budget still deserves scrutiny as dollars were spent in the wrong areas if you ask most people.
Its very early and anderson and engel will be back soon enough alleviating some of the roster mess, but would really like to see better roster and lineup management. This isnt a juggernaut team that can afford to lose this many close games and games theyve had leads in late and expect to finish in a position to go to the playoffs.
I am with you that the Sox should have spent more, but that’s definitely not the problem so far. As I recall, the big complaints from Sox fans this offseason for lack of spending were RF and DH. RF and DH are manifestly not the problem. Eaton has been great while Joc Pederson is already at -0.3 WAR and Springer has yet to play. At DH, Yermín is 3rd in MLB in wRC+. Meanwhile, the one place they did spend (closer) has been a relative disaster.
To be crystal clear: that does not mean the Sox were right to spend how they did, but the problems so far are not the problems we expected after this offseason.
You are right, however, about the TLR hire. It was questionable at best at the time, but he’s tactically been somewhere between below average and miserable so far.
Yermin has been great at DH but I feel like most people were someone with a little more positional versatility at DH, just in case oh I don’t know…Eloy got hurt or something crazy like that…
I agree—I was among them. So, someone like Eddie Rosario would be really nice to have. But, if they sign Rosario, we almost certainly don’t see Yermín. Now, I think that’s a good tradeoff in the long run, but it probably doesn’t make the Sox any better than they’ve been so far (and it might have even hurt them).
No, if we signed Rosario, he would have started opening day in left against Leury, and since it’s obvious Tony doesn’t think Vaughn is ready yet, Yermin will still have gotten his chance. Rosario just would have replaced Hamilton on the opening day roster, and now we wouldn’t have Nick Williams forced on us. Yermin would still have likely been on the opening day roster.
If the White Sox signed Rosario, he’d be on the IL with a hamstring injury.
I don’t think so. Vaughn was slated to be the opening day DH. Yermín only got his shot because Vaughn moved to LF. That opened up a spot for another bat. If Rosario goes to LF, the next man up at DH is Vaughn and Yermín almost certainly doesn’t make the roster.
No, the problem is depth. And almost everyone on here was saying the same thing over and over again during the offseason. Hahn indicated that Vaughn was ready for regular time in the major leagues. That hasn’t been the case at all. Whether there was miscommunication between the FO and Tony (or no communication), Tony obviously didn’t get the memo, because he does not even trust Vaughn over Nick Williams at this point. Then Eloy and Timmy get hurt. Everyone (except maybe Jerry and Rick) know that injuries and struggles are going to happen during the season. It seems Rick just figured that the top 9 guys were going to play (and play well) for the entire season. Such an entirely avoidable situation has reared its ugly head, and we’re only 2 weeks into the season. An epic failure on the part of management to provide depth this offseason. As someone said above, when it’s April 13 and Nick Williams and Jake Lamb are hitting 5/7 against Justin Bieber, management screwed up big time.
So, I’m trying to isolate only what’s happened so far and ask: what should the Sox have done differently to avoid the problems of ’21 so far? If you want to point to developing prospects better or not hiring TLR, you won’t hear any complaints from me.
My point, however, is that there’s very little that we would say Hahn *should* have done this offseason to improve ’21 so far without the benefit of hindsight. RF, DH, and backup C (Sox fans biggest complaints coming in) have been excellent.
So, what should Hahn have done differently? One option is sign someone like Eddie Rosario. This would have helped the team in the long run, but it wouldn’t have improved ’21 so far because with Eddie we likely get no Yermin. Vaughn was slotted to start as the DH, but Yermín got his shot because Vaughn moved to LF. If Hahn signed Eddie, he’s the one that slots into LF which means Vaughn is next man up at DH. This probably is better for the long run, but it doesn’t solve the problems of ’21 so far.
Another option is sign a 5th OF? But, keep in mind that Nick Williams is/should the 8th OF on this roster. Eloy, Robert, Eaton, Engel were top 4. Then, Leury, then, when Eloy goes down, Vaughn. Then, Hamilton. Then, Williams.
So, what is the problem with Nick Williams? It’s not that he’s on this roster right now—not many teams could do much better if they lost literally three OFs (Eloy, Engel, Hamilton) above him on the depth chart. The problem is that he’s starting over Leury/Vaughn and hitting 5th. That’s a problem that needs to be fixed now, but I can’t really put that on Hahn’s offseason.
You have to remember that Vaughn did not start opening day, at DH or LF. Leury started in left and Collins was the DH. If Rosario is on the roster, Billy Hamilton would not have been needed at all, and would never have been signed. So Yermin very likely would have still made the opening day roster. He might not have gotten a chance right away, but he certainly would have had a few starts to show what he can do. It was so obvious over the offseason that the White Sox needed to sign another quality left-handed bat for depth purposes and to not have Vaughn forced to be in the lineup as DH. Probably close to half of our off-season plans said that. So why didn’t Hahn do it? Cheapnesss or stupidity are not good excuses.
No, Yermín is redundant if Vaughn is DH only. It would have been Vaughn or Mercedes. Now, maybe if they sign Rosario then they don’t think Vaughn is ready. But, that clearly wasn’t the case and, even if they signed Rosario for the depth, Vaughn was clearly above Mercedes on the DH depth chart.
Anyway, it’s largely besides the point, since we both agree that they should have signed Rosario and the future would be brighter if they did. My only point was that 2021 so far wouldn’t have been any better, and might have been worse, if they did.
Last season it felt like the Sox were never out of it, this season it feels like their opponents are never out of it.
If not for Jerry’s cheapness and/or Rick’s stupid “our team is on the floor” statement, Eddie Rosario would have been batting 5th instead of Nick Williams yesterday. It was so obvious to so many on here that the Sox needed another LH bat to play LF when Eloy hurt himself. Their “excuse” then was that Vaughn was ready to be the full-time DH. Well, it’s very obvious that Vaughn is NOT ready, if Nick Williams is playing ahead of him. A very obvious but preventable problem could have been eased for $8 million of Jerry’s grandkids inheritance. Nice move, guys.
Can we agree that (at this point in the season) Moncada is not a cleanup hitter and Robert is not right in the 2-hole? Maybe when they get their acts together, but so far: yeesh.
Moncada looks lost right now. And we have a left-handed power-hitting former All-Star third baseman on the bench…
He saw a total of like one hittable pitch last night. The night before he had two hits and his defense has been outstanding both nights.
This is a lazy take and Lamb has been hot garbage for three years+ now. It’s too bad, but he had shoulder surgery and has never been the same.
Moncada is hitting .179/.289/.282 on the season. Seven hits in 11 games. His SLG is .011 higher than Billy Hamilton’s. I don’t see how it’s a lazy take to say Moncada shouldn’t be batting cleanup.
Agreed his glove has been lovely though.
Flip them in the lineup. Put Moncada where he was when he broke out in 2019.
I would be interested in seeing Yermin in the 2-spot. He would clog the basepaths, but his contact approach looks good there as well as getting on base ahead of Abreu.
Yesterday i wondered if the new baseball was affecting the grip for some pitchers, resulting in lessened control and leading to more Sox walks. Today I wonder if the new baseball is taking away homers. There have been a lot of balls already this season where I thought off the bat they were gone, and they weren’t. Lamb’s flyout wasn’t one of those, but it did seem like last year that would have kept drifting until it was out of reach.
In the offseason that Pitching Ninja fella compiled all 100 mph+ fastballs that missed middle-middle into a video clip to demonstrate that they still were effective pitches. Crochet had the most of anyone.
Missing middle-middle at 97 (as I believe he did on that double) is not quite the same. Crochet has already adjusted his pitch mix a bit to reflect his velocity drop–he may need to refine his command as well.
So there’s been talk about Mendick being sent down when Anderson comes off the IL but after last night I’m wondering what the point of Jake Lamb even is on this team? Is it solely to have a non-Collins lefty on the bench? I would think you’d want someone who could hit the ball for that role.
Collins or Mendick have infinitely more utility than Lamb.
I don’t understand the fear of burning the backup catcher when you have three on the roster. If you need to lose the DH, who cares? If you get to that point in the game, you might need to cover one, maybe two ABs from the pitcher spot?
The alternative is to accept bad ABs late in games out of fear that a most unlikely scenario will come to fruition.
Collins has looked a little better, IMO. But does anyone think the org is sold on using him in clutch situations? At least Lamb has had some major league success. In that last at-bat, looking for a HR, I would probably go with Lamb if those are my two options.
I came to post something similar as I completely agree. With the opening day roster, Lamb’s hypothetical value would be as either occasional lefty at DH or backup corner infielder. With Mercedes and Collins deserving more at bats, Lamb shouldn’t be getting at bats over them at DH. If Moncada needs a day off at 3B, it would be better to pick days when a LHP is starting, which means Lamb isn’t a good option there. Also, Abreu never wants out of the lineup, and even if he sits, this is another spot to get Vaughn/Collins at bats, so there is no good place for Lamb. I hope they just keep Mendick up when Tim is back.
If they send down Mendick and don’t just cut bait with Lamb then TLR’s pulling some serious good old boys club shit.
Making a second comment, which is a little gauche, but whatever.
The most damning thing about this team in my opinion, is the fact that they have Gonzalez, Adolfo, and Rutherford on the 40-man roster and Nick Williams is the player getting chances at the major league level.
Can Vaughn play left? I think it’s unfair to have to ask that question of him, but 6 chances in the field are not enough to form an opinion.
If the Sox are seeing something in practice that says, “this guy definitely cannot play left”, then those opportunities should go to their internal candidates. You know, the guys that they have to believe in enough to give a 40-man spot to.
So, just so we are clear these guys are worth a roster spot, but are worse option than the guy with the career 93 wRC+ and -21 DRS in the outfield? Woof.
Packing the lineup with lefties is an understandable strategy vs Bieber. But at least put your best left handed hitters out there then. Collins should have been DH and Leury should have played RF. Williams and Lamb aren’t even replacement level players and that’s who we start vs the AL’s best pitcher? Plus our two better hitters (Yermin and Vaughn) who can work counts were on the god damn bench. Bieber was getting through innings with 7-10 pitches all night. Embarrassing. I would be furious if I was Giolito who pitched an outstanding game. We basically conceded so many outs that we had no shot.
Why am I able to see this and TLR doesn’t?
I can hit righties better than Leury.
He hit .235 with an OPS of .663 last season and .264/.642 in 2019 versus RHP. Hall of Fame numbers they are not. However you and I are slashing the same hitting numbers right now as Nick Williams so I would have gone with Leury. And I meant to say LF in my original post
I would like to see Collins get some more chances. But even I am not clamoring to see him against tough starters. If TLR thinks someone else is a better option, there isn’t much data to say otherwise.
Every team comes into a season with several assumptions about their roster. I think it’s safe to say Hahn had some ostensibly good ones that blew up in his face early such as the bullpen being elite and Abreu and Anderson hitting at a Silver Slugger level. But it seems like a lot of questionable or downright awful assumptions were baked in as well:
-Robert’s early 2020 and Moncada’s 2019 were their true talent levels and not blips on the radar
-average or better health
-Vaughn would be a good DH (admittedly, the plan was not to have Vaughn on the roster right now)
-Eloy could play left field without killing himself
-Giolito, Keuchel, and Lynn maintain their performance levels
-Cease improves considerably
For these, the issue is not just that we’ve reached the point where AAAA detritus like Nick Williams and Jake Lamb are taking plate appearances, but that their presence is not being balanced by performances from the guys who are supposed to be our star players. Granted, Tony just exacerbates the situation by doing crap like not playing his best performing hitter every day, but we made an assumption that some combination of Abreu, Moncada, Robert, Anderson, Jimenez, Grandal, and to a lesser extent Vaughn, Eaton, and Madrigal, would be able to spread out the burden on offense. Instead, not a single one of them except Eaton has an OPS over .700, and even Mercedes hitting on God Mode can’t counterbalance that sort of malaise across the roster for long.
On the whole, this leaves them in a position where their assumption of health not coming to fruition gets magnified as an epic mistake, and their reliance on bullpen performance, which is probably the least predictable part of any roster, seems foolhardy at best. Then again, maybe the bullpen would not have been taxed so badly were more members of the rotation actually completing five innings regularly. It just feels like another series of cascading failures, and that 2015 vibe we were getting in the offseason is feeling eerily prescient right now.