Athletics 5, White Sox 4: Self-inflicted wounds and warning-track power

As losses go, this game could have fit in with the two the White Sox dropped to the Yankees. Mistakes were made in the field and on the mound, and the offense was kept in check thanks to some deep drives that just weren’t deep enough.

It’s just a lot easier to take when the White Sox already won the first three games of this series, a position comfortable enough to rest Tim Anderson before a tough road trip involving two series on turf. That and a 12-game lead that’s now 11½.

Andrew Vaughn put the White Sox ahead, but he also helped put the White Sox behind. His two-run homer off Cole Irvin gave the Sox a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth, but he gave the A’s an extra out in the top of the seventh when he ranged too far on Elvis Andrus’ grounder to the right side. It would’ve been an easier play for César Hernández had Vaughn just returned to the bag, but he instead made a sliding stop and fired over the head of Michael Kopech.

That gave Oakland a fourth out to play with, and Kopech ended up hanging a slider to Matt Olson, who launched it into the Goose Island for his 31st homer and a 5-3 lead. There’s the question of whether Kopech should have faced Olson at all with a base open, but Mitch Moreland might’ve done the same thing with that kind of roller.

It was the second time a White Sox pitcher spun a slider to an Oakland Matt, and Dylan Cease had equally poor results on his slider to Matt Chapman, who hit a no-doubter to left that tied the game at 3 in the sixth. Cease had his usual mix of encouraging innings and frustrating ones. He needed just 22 pitches to get through the first two innings, but he gave up a solo homer to Sean Murphy in the third, then created his own problems in the fourth. He loaded the bases with a single, a nubber that caused him to slip while fielding it, and a walk, followed by another walk that gave Oakland a 2-1 lead.

Despite these self-inflicted wounds, the White Sox had a chance to win it in the ninth, thanks in part to a major mistake by Oakland. Lou Trivino gave up a leadoff single to Zack Collins, but recovered with a strikeout of César Hernández and a deep flyout from Luis Robert. Up came José Abreu, who hit a not-deep fly to center. It hung in the air for 6-7 seconds, which was enough time for Andrus and Starling Marte to collide in center field. The ball dropped, Collins scored all the way from first, and Abreu stood on second after the error as the tying run. Eloy Jiménez then laced the first pitch he saw to center, but while it was 111.6 mph, it found Marte in center for the final out.

Jiménez drove in the game’s first run, scoring Robert with a one-out double that also pushed Abreu to third. Vaughn walked to load the bases, but Yoán Moncada struck out and Brian Goodwin flied out to limit the damage to one run.

Aside from Vaughn’s two-run homer in the fifth — which had to feel good considering Irvin pitched around Jiménez with two outs and the bases empty to face him — Oakland kept the Sox off the board. The Sox had some decent at-bats, but five fly balls died on the warning track.

Bullet points:

*Jiménez collided with Robert unnecessarily in left center field, but Robert made the catch.

*Cease’s line reminiscent of his 2020 lines, what with his four walks against five strikeouts and just 12 whiffs on 102 pitches. At least he lasted long enough for a quality start.

*Collins reached base three times from the ninth spot, but Hernández and Robert combined to go 1-for-10 with a strikeout and a double play from the first two spots. Also, something to pay attention to when it comes to pitcher preferences:

Record: 71-51 | Box score | Statcast

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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When Jimenez necessarily collides with Robert, I’ll try to be more forgiving….