You’d expect the White Sox to rough up Matt Harvey in Game 1, but you wouldn’t expect such easy success against John Means in the back half of today’s doubleheader.
You’d expect José Abreu to do some damage against a left-handed starter, but you wouldn’t expect Billy Hamilton to beat him to it.
Well, Hamilton went deep to break a scoreless tie, and while Abreu’s bunyanesque blast provided the winning margin in the box score, Hamilton’s diving catch on a sinking liner helped preserve it.
Liam Hendriks saved both games of a doubleheader for the first time this season (he’d previously pitched in both games in Boston) as the White Sox improved to 7-1 in twin bills on the year.
This one was every bit the pitching duel that you’d expect from a matchup of Means and Lance Lynn. Lynn bullied his way through five scoreless innings, and looked good for at least six when the hook came out. Means survived a near disaster in the first inning before the long ball bit him later.
Hamilton was the guy to break the scorelessness in the fourth. With two outs, Hamilton survived a 1-2 backdoor curve that Edwin Moscoso called a ball, despite the pitch trackers showing it made it all the way back to the zone. Hamilton then showed initiative by fouling off a changeup, after which Means returned to the fastball, thigh-high and on the inner half. Hamilton got all of it, in the sense that it landed in the first row while he sprinted around the bases thinking “triple,” but it gave the Sox a 1-0 lead nevertheless.
An inning later, Yoán Moncada kept the inning alive with two outs by muscling a high curveball just over the head of shortstop Freddy Galvis into shallow left field. The hit had an exit velocity of 60.5 mph.
Abreu followed by working a 3-1 count, then guessing correctly. He thought Means might try to work his way back to full with a changeup, and Abreu waited back and unloaded for a two-run shot that reached the concourse on a bounce. It had an exit velocity of 109.9 mph, and the blast to Moncada’s bloop gave the Sox a 3-0 lead.
Maybe because there’s a potential short-rest start situation on the horizon next week, La Russa limited Lynn to five innings, with the expectations that the game’s seven-inning nature would diminish the wear and tear on the bullpen. Aaron Bummer immediately negated that thought by loading the bases on a walk, single and walk to the three batters he faced.
In came Codi Heuer to put out das Feuer, but it almost went up in smoke when Maikel Franco greeted him with a line drive to center, coming out of the shadows and into a sunny center fielder. Hamilton stayed with it and went to the ground to make the catch, and because Galvis didn’t hold third base, it wasn’t even good for a sac fly.
Heuer made the baserunning blunder moot by plunking Stevie Wilkerson for one run, but he came back to strike out Ryan Mountcastle and get Chase Sisco to ground to third. Moncada thought to go to second, but when he didn’t see anybody covering in time, he had to redirect his effort to first, where Abreu was barely able to anchor the bag for the final out.
Were the Orioles able to post a crooked number, the White Sox might’ve been kicking themselves for a missed opportunity in the first. Unexpected control issues from Means loaded the bases on a one-out walk to Yasmani Grandal and a pair of two-out walks to Abreu and Yermín Mercedes.
Andrew Vaughn then worked a 3-0 count to put Means on the ropes, so Means came back at him with a fastball. Vaughn had the green light, but flied out to right field in a routine fashion. You could say he helped Means off the hook. You could also say that he might not get a better pitch from a guy who came into the game 4-0 with a 1.79 ERA. Either way, the discussion is merely philosophical.
*Lynn lowered his ERA to 1.37. Means saw his rise to 2.05, along with his first loss of the season.
*Grandal committed his fourth catcher interference of the season, although it was the subtlest, if that matters. Lynn pitched around it.
*Grandal became the first catcher since Carlton Fisk on June 23, 1989 to catch both games of a doubleheader.
*More Hendriks saves have started in the seventh inning (five) than ninth (four) this season.
*The White Sox gained a full game on Cleveland even though its game against Toronto was washed out. They now lead the AL Central by three.
Record: 31-20 | Box score | Statcast
I assumed the poster in another thread was joking when he speculated that Jim was a 60-year-old man who has a younger actor lip-sync for him in the Sox Machine videos. After the Billy, Don’t Be a Hero reference in the title of this recap, I’m finding that theory more plausible.
At the very least his soul is 60.
I’m just going where the evidence leads.
I’m Jim’s age. I think the Billy Don’t Be A Hero song was included on a sound clip that introduced a WSCR segment. Also, numerous television ads for various 70s compilation CDs.
Many many many years ago, on the first Sox Machine foray, I thought Jim was at least 40. That was like 20 years ago, so he might be 60 now (in the best shape you can be at that age). Checks out. ????
Gotta say I’m happy for Billy. Must be awesome to have a game and crowd reaction like that. While he shouldn’t be an everyday player, he definitely could play a positive role going forward.
Seeing Hamilton at least be able to turn on one from the right side today as well against Minnesota I don’t even mind him getting some starts against lefties over Garcia, especially until Engel gets back.
Finally got the chance to go to a game, and what a welcome back it was. Bobbleheads, beautiful weather, and double dubs. We were out in right center helping carry the BILLY chant in game two. Lots of fun, great energy in the crowd. Very, uh, restorative, after all the isolation. And I daresay the 7 inning games made the trip not overstay its welcome, even for the less baseball inclined among the group.
Do they charge less for 7 inning games compared to 9 innings?
At least fans got a straight doubleheader. Am not a fan of charging people for a 9 inning game and then turning it into a 7 inning day/night split
I’ve never cared for split double headers at all.
And generally, among recent rule changes the one I have liked the most is the 7-inning double header.
Today’s straight double header was fun to watch. It didn’t seem to take much longer than many 9 inning affairs.
Since none of the other recent rule changes actually do much to shorten the games and just make me angry and frustrated, I’d probably rather that they just go to 7 inning games all around and stop messing around. I hate the extra inning rule (whoever said that the biggest problem in baseball was how long it takes to resolve the end of the closest, most exciting games?). If nothing else, 7 inning games would reduce the number of pitching changes, and I think reducing the number of pitching changes will do more to shorten games than, say, moving the mound.
Why does it feel like Billy Hamilton has been hitting better than his very below average statline indicates????
Because we want to like him, and of course we do. He is a very likeable player.
So between Grandal starting both games of a double header and Collins starting a night game followed by a day game the next day, TLR is doing some unorthodox catcher strategy. Is part of a larger league-wide trend or something specific to TLR?