Thanks to a four-game winning streak, the Chicago White Sox were within grasp of returning back to .500 after digging themselves a hole losing eight straight. On the mound for game two against Boston was Dylan Cease. After five starts, Cease was tied with Shohei Ohtani for third best WAR for American League pitchers according to FanGraphs.
|Kevin Gausman||Toronto Blue Jays||1.9|
|Michael King||New York Yankees||1.2|
|Dylan Cease||Chicago White Sox||1.1|
|Shohei Ohtani||Los Angeles Angels||1.1|
|Tarik Skubal||Detroit Tigers||0.9|
Facing a slumping Red Sox lineup that should break out at any moment was a good test for Cease. Could he continue his early-season dominance and help get the White Sox back to .500?
Boston struck first in the fifth inning. Franchy Cordero hit a single that was just beyond Leury Garcia’s range at second base. Then Cease started losing his excellent command. On a full count to Trevor Story, Cease badly missed his intended target, throwing a fastball well below the strike zone. With runners on first and second, Cease had to deal with Devers, who already singled against him.
Devers took advantage of the Green Monster, hitting an RBI double on a hanging breaking pitch. The White Sox were in hot water with Xander Bogaerts at the plate with just one out. Manager Tony La Russa called for the infield to play in, and that worked out wonderfully when Bogaerts hit a chopper to Anderson. An excellent throw to Yasmani Grandal covering home nailed Story for the second out. Next was JD Martinez, and Cease picked up his eighth strikeout to get out of the jam.
At 101 pitches, Cease’s day was done. Even though he only allowed one run on four hits, the Red Sox did draw three walks and did a good job of working the count.
Meanwhile, the White Sox hitters had a terrible time with Nick Pivetta. The same Pivetta who had a season 7.84 ERA and just 16 strikeouts to 13 walks while never lasting longer than the sixth inning. White Sox struggles against right-handed pitching made Pivetta look like an All-Star. After pumping a center-cut 93 mph fastball by Gavin Sheets ending the sixth inning, Pivetta’s line was 6 IP 5 H 0 R 0 BB 8 K on 91 pitches. By far, the best performance for Pivetta in 2022.
The White Sox bullpen did a terrific job after Cease left the game. The trio of Bennett Sousa, Jose Ruiz, and Reynaldo Lopez combined for three scoreless innings while only allowing one baserunner. Thanks to their work, the White Sox still had a chance to tie or take the game lead late in the ninth inning against Red Sox closer Hansel Robles.
Jake Burger led it off with a walk, and then things got interesting. Adam Engel smashed a liner down the left-field line that bounced around. Alex Verdugo got the ball back in time, but Engel’s double put runners in scoring position with no outs. Leury Garcia waited for Robles to throw a fastball in the zone and got enough of one to drive to right field. Jackie Bradley Jr. made the catch, but he had to back peddle and wasn’t in a good throwing position. Burger scored on Garcia’s sacrifice fly to tie the game. Engel also tagged up and advanced to third on the play.
With Anderson batting, it just seemed the White Sox would find a way to take the lead. But on the first pitch, Anderson hit a hard grounder right at Devers at third base. Engel couldn’t move, and with two outs, the game once again found Pollock. All he could muster was a slow roller up the middle for the inning-ending groundout leaving Pollock with six runners left on base in his at-bats.
La Russa stuck with Lopez in the ninth inning, even though Liam Hendriks was getting warm in the bullpen. After a quick pop-out, Lopez ran into trouble. Bradley Jr. singled, and Vazquez doubled, putting the game-winning run just 90 feet away.
Sure, the White Sox could have loaded the bases in hopes of getting a grounder to turn a double play. But Devers was looming, and La Russa decided to have Lopez attack Bobby Dalbec and Story. The decision paid off as Lopez came through striking out Dalbec looking, and Story popped out on the first pitch.
In extras, White Sox had Pollock on second base to start the 10th inning. Matt Barnes entered the game for Boston.
Abreu made quick work lining a double that split the right-center field gap on a fastball over the plate. Now ahead 2-1, it was up to Robert and Grandal to pad that newfound lead.
Robert pulled through with a single that scored Abreu, and on a questionable throw to home plate, he reached second base. Grandal smoked a grounder up the middle, but the shift worked for the first out as Robert moved up to third base. Unfortunately, on a 3-1 count, Harrison swung on a pitch at the hands to ground out to Bogaerts at short, not allowing Robert to score. Burger whiffed on a high fastball to end the inning, but the White Sox were ahead 3-1.
Liam Hendriks has been a busy man, as he saved each game during the White Sox current winning streak. Trying to make it five saves in as many games, Hendriks relied on the defense. He made the first play on a comebacker from Devers, but Bogaerts and Martinez grounded out.
After eight innings of lackluster offense, the White Sox bats came alive at the right time. They are back at .500 with a seven-game homestand looming.
- Reynaldo Lopez is now 4-0 on the season. Liam Hendriks has nine saves.
- White Sox were 2-for-14 with RISP. Both hits came in the 10th inning.
- Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, and Jose Abreu all had multiple hits. Sandwiched was AJ Pollock who went 0-for-5, and Yasmani Grandal trailed also going 0-for-5. Perhaps another lineup shuffle is coming.
Record: 13-13 | Box Score | StatCast
Leury’s looking much better the past week or so. He’s still got a ways to go to drag his season line up, but he’s been hitting the ball quite hard from the left side recently. 2 for 3 today, one obviously incredibly lucky pop-up but his other 3 batted balls were all rockets; that was a 106.6mph sac ‘fly’ to tie it in the 9th, it’s a double if not hit right at a superlative defensive RF in JBJ.
He also had a SB, and would’ve had two had Timmy not been hit by the pitch. I’m generally not at all a fan of old-school “manufacturing runs” tactics, but it’s been quite effective on this win streak. they now have 14 successfully swiped bags to just one caught stealing on the year. They have the pitching staff (tomorrow’s starter excluded lol) and sufficient speedsters/high-contact players to make it work when the expected juggernaut offense isn’t there. Vaughn and Moncada coming back should be a boost in the near future; after that we mostly just need Grandal and Pollock to remember how to hit.
Liking the renewed Reynaldo. At 4-0, early eyes on a 1990 Barry Jones like season for him in relief! Take away that April 26th appearance, he has been outstanding. Keep it going Rey Rey!
JH has to go. He has absolutely no plan of what to do when he comes to the plate.