White Sox 4, Cleveland 3: Doink

White Sox win

The White Sox have already had their fill of agonizing late-inning losses, so they were due for a late-inning win with the fortunes flipped.

Sure enough, their first walk-off comes courtesy of Yasmani Grandal’s helmet. With runners on first and second and one out in the ninth, Cleveland first baseman Yu Chang fielded Nick Williams’ slow-developing grounder. Instead of taking the sure out at first — because any trailing runner doesn’t matter with two outs in the ninth of a tie game — Chang went to second base.

He made an accurate throw to second, in that it was on line to be caught for the force. The problem was that Grandal, who reached with a walk after Yermín Mercedes’ one-out single, was in the way. The ball glanced off his helmet and rolled to the vacated shortstop position, and Nick Madrigal, who replaced Mercedes as a pinch runner, made it the final 90 feet without a throw.

That Grandal was the player involved was especially rewarding for two reasons. For one, he was nearly on the losing end of such a twist in the top of the inning. He caught Roberto Perez’s foul tip for an inning-ending strikeout to strand the runner on second, and as he got up to flip the ball to the mound, he dropped the ball on the exchange. Home plate umpire Gabe Morales ruled that Grandal failed to catch the foul tip, which wasn’t the case, but the judgment call wasn’t reviewable and so Perez got another life. Fortunately, Codi Heuer blew another full-count fastball by him to make it moot.

The other part is that Grandal’s famous lack of foot speed actually benefited the Sox handsomely. The play developed slowly enough that most other runners would have been starting a slide into second, giving Chang’s throw plenty of room to find the shortstop. Grandal, baseball’s 448th-fastest player during the 2020 season, was still strides away from entering the slide, so he inadvertently ended up in a position to disrupt the line.

However it happened, the White Sox are back to .500. There isn’t a whole lot of difference between 5-5 and 4-6 at this juncture, but it was a big game for a bullpen hoping to live up to the hype.

Dallas Keuchel — starting for Carlos Rodón, who was a late scratch due to a stomach issue — cruised through five innings on just 51 pitches. He had given up a two-run homer to Eddie Rosario on an unfortunate sinker, but a three-run homer by Adam Eaton covered for it.

But just like in his first two starts, his control started to unravel as he broke off his third set of 25 pitches. He faced three batters in the sixth and retired none of them, walking two batters around a single to load the bases for José Ramírez. Tony La Russa called for Evan Marshall, and while Marshall couldn’t quite preserve the lead, he fared as well as anybody could reasonably expect. He struck out Ramírez, yielded a sac fly to Franmil Reyes, and then got Rosario to line out to left, keeping the game tied at 3.

Marshall also recorded the first out of the seventh, which made it less of a crisis when Aaron Bummer could only retire the first of the three batters he faced. With lefty-killing Jordan Luplow coming to the plate, La Russa switched to Heuer while Terry Francona stuck with Luplow, and Heuer came through with the K to end the threat.

La Russa then rode Heuer the rest of the way, because Heuer gave him no reason to switch. He struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth, and while Josh Naylor tomahawked a high fastball to left for a two-out double in the ninth, Heuer rallied to strike out Perez twice. Heuer threw 23 of 32 pitches for strikes, and picked up the well-earned win in relief.

The White Sox offense had an opportunity to make it easier in the the sixth against Cal Quantrill. Luis Robert led off with a double, after which José Abreu walked. The third consecutive Cuban, Yoán Moncada, rocketed a single through the right side, but Robert had to hold to make sure it cleared Cesar Hernandez at second, and so he only advanced to third.

The Sox didn’t score. Yermín Mercedes got locked up on a backup slider in the perfect location — high and tight in the strike zone — and Grandal bounced into a 3-6-1 double play.

Fortunately, Eaton capitalized on the other Sox opportunity in the third. Williams and Danny Mendick preceded Eaton with walks to put two on with one out in the third. Eaton swung over a well-placed Triston McKenzie changeup for strike one, but when McKenzie doubled up with a poorly located change, Eaton didn’t miss it. He got enough loft on his liner to clear the wall in right for a three-run shot, his third homer of the year.

Bullet points:

*The White Sox defense showed up tonight, playing errorless ball with Moncada making a couple tough plays at third.

*The offense didn’t have many great swings against McKenzie, but they made him throw plenty of pitches. Three walks, an HBP and six strikeouts added up to 75 through four.

*Cleveland’s bullpen only recorded two strikeouts over the final 4⅓ innings, while the White Sox relief corps racked up seven strikeouts over one fewer out.

*Keuchel’s final line: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. It’s a little disappointing on paper, but more impressive when knowing it came on short notice.

Record: 5-5 | Box score | Statcast

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David

At last, someone else having the key fielding breakdown.

soxfan4life

A break FINALLY went in the sox favor for once YESSSSS

Joliet Orange Sox

How can you say there’s not much difference between 5-5 and 4-6. 5-5 projects out to 81 wins out of 162 at the end of the year. 4-6 projects out to 64.8 wins out of 162 at the end of the year. That’s a difference of over 16 wins!

😉

Last edited 3 years ago by Joliet Orange Sox
Amar

In the Coop era, I can’t recall there being at least 3 RP (like Kopech, Crochet, Heuer) in the bullpen not only capable of going 2+ innings in an outing, but actually being employed in that manner.

Last edited 3 years ago by Amar
MrStealYoBase

Jose Ramirez came into the game with 3 strikeouts. The bullpen struck him out in both late-inning ABs.

Keep the bad man from hurting you, win baseball games.

Holland23

I really hope Eaton is still a slow starter.

soxfan

Whoever had Mercedes and Eaton as the position-player MVPs of the first two weeks and Lynn and Kopech as the pitching MVPs should buy a lottery ticket.

tommytwonines

Well, he’s working out better than Springer – for now.

Soxfan2

Let’s play armchair manager…

Who would have pinch hit Vaughn for Williams?

As Cirensica

At this juncture, I don’t think Vaughn is on the current White Sox plans. He is being used less and less, and he is entering into a “what’s the point in keeping him up?” Hamilton was having decent PAs and plays nice defense. Nick Williams does not look helpless at the plate (for now) and plays competent defense. Once Engel enters into the picture, Vaughn and Lamb will be left playing backgammon in the dugout.

Last edited 3 years ago by As Cirensica
HallofFrank

I don’t think that’s true, I just think they want to really ease him into the role—which I don’t mind, given the circumstances. He’s playing about half of the games, but I suspect that will slowly pick up.

I’ve seen enough of Nick Williams. 0 hits and 1 BB in 9 PA and there wasn’t much reason to be excited in the first place. For all his lack of power, Vaughn is currently an above average offensive player (104 wRC+) with lots of room for growth—and reason to believe he will improve. I doubt Engel cuts into his playing time. Williams will be finished and Engel will get spot starts in LF and RF.

As Cirensica

I have no doubts on Vaughn’s bat. That will put him in the lineup, but his defense is not great. If Mercedes keeps producing, Vaughn only chance to play is in the outfield which is not where he should be.

HallofFrank

I do agree that the Sox FO were probably planning on Vaughn having more DH PAs, but Yermin kinda messed up those plans.

As Cirensica

HallofFrank

This is likely more SSS coincidence than a stated strategy, for two reasons. One, he has just as many PAs (10) vs. RHP as LHP.

Second, I’d guess the actual strategy is: ease Vaughn into this role by (a) starting him in about half of the games and (b) put him in the best positions to succeed offensively. If that’s true, then it makes sense he’s started against LHP, especially when the other LF’s (Hamilton & Williams) hit left-handed.

andyfaust

I definitely thought about it before Williams was stepping into the box. But several factors went into my being okay with Williams staying in to face Clase.

1) the defensive downgrade you’d have in LF if the game went into extra innings
2) I don’t know Nick Williams splits, but him being a left handed hitter against the right handed Clase was worth something to consider for me…
3) Vaughn isn’t exactly tearing it up just yet, and TLR seems to have a tendency to protect his rookies from being put into positions that might leave lasting scars from failures. The likelihood of a strikeout seemed significant.

Another option, albeit a questionable one, would have been to pinch hit Collins, but then you’d have to take him out of the game for Vaughn anyway if it went to the 10th and you’d be burning your only remaining backup catcher since Mercedes was already removed for a pinch runner at that point.

As Cirensica

2 things I like thus far in the White Sox

1) No revolving door of relievers. LaRussa leaving relievers in if they are effective
2) Increase of pitches per PA running opposing pitchers count way up early on

mikeschach

we’ve been complaining about fundamentals, so it’s nice to see no errors and some heads-up baserunning!

MarketMaker

free andrew vaughn

Eloytes

Have to think that Grandal’s unfortunate 3-6-1 double play paved the way for the game winning play. Gave their first baseman the confidence that they could do it again (rather than making the obvious play). Would have preferred they scored when the bases were loaded but oh well.

Also have to think getting in the line of that throw is something AJ would have knowingly done.

andyfaust

Grandal with the long con.

texag10

So I was looking at team stats on FanGraphs this morning and it’s a bit concerning that we are in last place in Launch Angle and 29th in average Exit Velocity but 11th in team Average. Not surprisingly, we are first in ground ball %, last in fly ball %, but somehow 4th in line drive %. I don’t know what all of this means but I find it a little concerning…

andyfaust

I think it means Yermin hit a ton of line drives the first week and a half of the season. And everyone else (except Eaton I guess) is failing to hit the ball into the air. At least they are taking some pitches for a change.

lifelongjd

This is a team that will heat up as the weather does the same. They are working counts and taking walks so that is a huge positive and a change from previous approach.
I think my biggest concern is the reliance on the home run to produce runs. It worked to a point last year when we led the league, but there’s been too many men left on base and failures to get the run home from third with less than 2 outs. I think that is why I like Yermin so much. The guy has a pretty good approach with two strikes and is a tough out (although he did strike out looking with bases loaded).

texag10

The things you talk about though are the results of driving balls into the dirt all the time. Too many groundouts and double plays to where the only way we can score is to hit a home run. Doesn’t seem very sustainable but maybe the weather warming up will change that.

MarketMaker

let’s all bask in the glory of the white sox leading mlb in BB%. oh man does that feel good. if we manage to stay anywhere near the top of that stat, this is going to be a good season.

texag10

We have 54 walks so far this season through 10 games. We had 179 all of last year and 378 in all of 2019. We can cut our walks/game in half and still finish with more walks than 2019. Gonna be interesting to see what happens with that trend once Tim comes back in the lineup.

GrinnellSteve

I wonder if the new ball is affecting some pitchers’ grips, and with it, their control. Are walks up leaguewide?

Part of it is having more at-bats going to guys who know the strike zone a little better: Collins, Vaughn, Mercedes, Madrigal and pairing them with Grandal and Moncada. I’m most encouraged by Robert’s at-bats. He still gets exploited, but the quality is generally improving.