Coming off a doubleheader two days ago and a hard-fought victory in the first game of another twin bill against Cleveland, this game had “punt” written all over it. Michael Kopech’s injury forced the Sox to resort to Jimmy Lambert. Tony La Russa kept Liam Hendriks out of the mix after he pitched three times over two days. Tim Anderson got another game off, and Andrew Vaughn didn’t appear in either game due to a bad allergy day.
And even with all those restrictions, some of them self-imposed, the White Sox still saw this game — and consequently their five-game winning streak — decided by a mere classic rookie mistake.
With a base open and a 3-1 count to Jose Ramirez with one out in the third inning, Lambert had the opportunity to cede the battle and look to get the two outs he needed from Cleveland’s lesser hitters. Instead, Lambert tried to fool him with a changeup, but it hung over the center of the plate. Ramírez did what Ramírez often does with such pitches, belting it out to right to provide the game’s final score.
The White Sox had chances early against Cal Quantrill and leadoff men on late, but they didn’t have a great concept of the strike zone in this one, which short-circuited rallies.
They cashed in their only run off in the third, when Billy Hamilton shot a double inside first base, then took third on a wild pitch before Nick Madrigal blooped him home with a single to right. But Yasmani Grandal was rung up on a called strike three and Yoán Moncada struck out swinging, and that was more representative of the rest of the game.
Fourth inning: A José Abreu single was erased by a Yermín Mercedes double play.
Fifth inning: Jake Lamb walked, followed by a Hamilton single two batters later. Madrigal and Grandal then both struck out.
Sixth inning: Yoán Moncada shot a double to the left-center gap, only to be stranded by strikeouts by Abreu and Adam Eaton surrounding a weak Mercedes popout
Seventh inning: Lamb found a hole in the left side to greet Emmanuel Clase, but in a reprise of “Looking for a Single,” Leury García pinch-hit for Danny Mendick and struck out, followed by K’s for Hamilton and Madrigal to end the game.
The good news is that the White Sox’s lesser pitchers didn’t embarrass La Russa for getting by with them. Ryan Burr, who had been lingering on the roster for a few days when Kopech went on the bereavement list, made his first MLB appearance since two years and a week ago and retired all four batters he faced. The cutter is new, and he got three whiffs on four of them, resulting in a couple of strikeouts. José Ruiz also recorded two strikeouts during a perfect sixth.
Lambert was the weak link, although he came out firing with a changeup Cleveland hadn’t expected. The problem was that he had to lean on it a little too much when he struggled to locate either of his breaking balls, and he threw enough bad ones for the opposition to start squaring him up, and loudly. The White Sox returned him to Charlotte after the game, so chalk up another victory for Burr.
*Madrigal committed his fifth error when he bounced a throw past José Abreu. It would’ve been a single anyway, but the error is because Hernández advanced to second. Then again, that should’ve merely opened the base for Ramírez.
*Grandal struck out all three times at bat, and Madrigal struck out twice for just the second time in his career.
*Mercedes is hitless in his last 15 at-bats.
Record: 33-21 | Box score | Statcast
Wonder what’s wrong with Mercedes. Seems to be having a difficult May though there has been some modest production with walks and sac flies it seems. I’m seeing “serviceable” as opposed to red hot and would love the reality to be in the middle of that.
I’m just happy to see Abreu and Moncada getting hot at the same time Mercedes is cooling off so on balance we’re still okay.
In a perfect world, we’d be able to give Mercedes a couple days off or move him down in the lineup, but since that would mean moving a C or Vaughn to DH and/further exposing our overmatched outfielders the best bad option is to ask Yermin to play through it and hope he comes out the other side.
I think versus a RHP we could trot out this lineup and still be okay while giving Yermin a couple days of rest.
Lamb DHing isn’t the end of the world. Hell, even sliding Danny Mendick into an outfield spot and putting Vaughn in the DH spot is still decent for 2nd line.
Other than that, just wait for a visit to an NL park to rest Yermin.
Yes. Lamb could give a couple of days off every now and them when we face a RHP.
Double DH? Bold strategy, I like it!
The Sox could find a way to get replacement level performance out of two DHs.
Looks to me like he’s getting a bit too swing happy at the plate. He’s still not striking out all that much which is good but he’s not waiting on “his pitch” as much as he was earlier in the season. Maybe pitchers just aren’t throwing him good pitches anymore but it doesn’t help that he’s swinging at almost anything these days.
He seems to be missing some hitable pitches as well. He fouled back two pitches from Maton that were pretty good pitches to hit hard.
Might be that he’s dealing with “Abreu syndrome” and trying to do too much. Feels like if Vaughn were able to go, it might have been good to give Mercedes a game off to get a break.
He’s a rookie.
So is Vaughn and he’s gotten benched for poor performance this year.
I blame our veteran catcher more than our rookie pitcher on the 3-1 mistake to Ramirez with first base open. Either way, we needed more than 1 run to win. Tough match-up today, but hoping for bounce back