Now that it’s May, it’s usually time where blaming the weather for offensive struggles gets a little old.
You can forgive the White Sox for requiring the generosity of spirit tonight. The conditions at Wrigley Field might’ve been the worst the White Sox have experienced all year. Barely above freezing, mostly raining and with a wind defined by both speed and chill, it straddled the line between playable and unplayable.
With the cards stacked against run creation, the conditions stressed run prevention, and the Sox passed that test well enough to take the opener of the crosstown series.
Just like Monday, the White Sox pounced for an early impact on the scoreboard before largely disappearing. Just like Monday, three runs proved to be enough. Michael Kopech wasn’t as dominant as Dylan Cease, but he and five White Sox relievers teamed up to get that margin across the finish line.
The defense also turned in a net-positive performance. It could’ve turned ugly when Jake Burger booted a potential third out to load the bases in the fourth inning, but Kopech pitched around it with a pop-out. In other innings, the gloves stepped up.
Particularly, Jose Abreu’s mitt. He snuffed out a third-inning rally by snagging Seiya Suzuki’s liner and beating Alfonso Rivas back to the bag for an unassisted double play. He foiled Rivas again two innings later, turning one of his trademarked 3-6 double plays on a Rivas grounder to erase a Nick Madrigal leadoff single as well.
José Ruiz was the only pitcher who got touched up in the box score, but he created his own trouble in the sixth. He first issued a leadoff walk to Ian Happ, and while he rebounded to get a couple of strikeouts, Jason Heyward extended the inning with an infield single that foiled the shift. Ruiz then rolled a slider to Nico Hoerner, and Hoerner spanked it inside the bag and down the left-field line for an RBI double.
Aaron Bummer(!), Matt Foster(!!) and Liam Hendriks made easier work of the final three innings, each retiring the side in order for the win.
As for the White Sox offense, it managed to scratch across a couple runs in the second. Abreu reached on a throwing error, then moved to third on Adam Engel’s double. Both runners scored, albeit without a whole lot of oomph. Jake Burger’s stubbed grounder stayed on the grass inside the third-base line for an infield single that scored Abreu, and Reese McGuire dropped a squeeze bunt that scored Engel.
Tim Anderson made things simpler in the third, jumping on Keegan Thompson’s first pitch for a solo homer to right.
Every other potential rally was halted by a double play. The fifth inning was particularly painful in multiple ways, as Josh Harrison and Anderson were plunked by Thompson to start the inning. AJ Pollock popped out, and while Yasmani Grandal singled to left, both runners could only advance 90 feet, so the bases were loaded for Abreu.
And Abreu grounded into a double play. Fortunately, he managed to turn one in the bottom of the inning, a symbol of the way run prevention won the night.
*Kopech wasn’t his sharpest, as he needed 83 pitches to throw his four scoreless innings, and only got six whiffs. He didn’t qualify for the win — Reynaldo López improved to 3-0 instead — but he lowered his ERA to 1.17.
*The lineup lacked Luis Robert and Andrew Vaughn. Robert was rested due to the conditions, while Vaughn is still dealing with soreness from the HBP to the wrist.
Record: 10-13 | Box score | Statcast
I was at the game. Weather wise, it was probably the worst baseball game I’ve ever been to. My fingers are still cold typing this. But it was a good idea to manufacture the couple of runs in the second. 3-4 runs were always going to win this game with how bad the weather was.
Weather-wise the Sox are prepared for a late October run.
They’re also prepped if they ever get a chance to play a December game at the Cliffs of Moher.
matt foster (!!) threw a fastball 97.4 mph (!!!!)
With Ruiz, Lopez, and Foster “rodonizing” his career, perhaps we didn’t need to spend that much money in bullpen arms.
I don’t think this post is going to age well.
Credit where it’s due: TLR made all the right calls in this game.
He pulled Kopech at exactly the right time after it took everything the guy had to get through 4. And that sac bunt looks mighty fine in hindsight, given the low-scoring nature of the game. In a different game/month that would be a mistake, but it’s nice to have well-executed small-ball as an option when the conditions and the anemic offenses dictate a low-scoring game. Heck, I’ll even give Tony credit for trusting Foster with a big inning that was handled with aplomb.
Yeah, as much as I wish LaRussa wasn’t the manager, I hope he makes all the right moves the rest of the year. I would not want to jeopardize this open championship window by having this year bomb just so we can get rid of him. Because, knowing how Jerry operates, he would then probably start to trade the guys who are starting to make too much (Giolito, Moncada), and the window would close. I hope Moncada and Vaughn are ready for the Red Sox series. They’re going to need to get that offense clicking soon.
He has been saying that Vaughn is ready for three days now, but Vaughn never plays. Sheets playing right field did not come back to bite the team, but it could have under the conditions. I give LaRussa credit for the bunt. Foster was a tolerable risk, preserving Graveman for tonight and it worked out and could pay dividends going forward. But basically the guy is over-managing his ass off. A lousy manager does not demonstrate his ineptness every game.
I won’t go so far as to give TLR credit for not managing like a dope once in a while.
Given the conditions it was fortunate nobody got hurt.
Kimbrel has allowed 1 earned run all year and converted every save opportunity. The baseball gods have a twisted sense of humor.
Give him time. The Red Sox had to use Sale to close out the World Series a few years ago because they could not rely on Kimbrel.
I hope he pitches well enough this year to stay in that role when the Sox face him in the World Series.
Amazing what a difference being near the strike zone makes.