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The White Sox almost made it through three games in Toronto without noticing the absence of Kendall Graveman.
Then they scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning to narrow a 4-0 deficit into a one-run game, and the Sox found themselves one right-handed high-leverage guy short.
Reynaldo López started the inning, but he did not finish it. In fact, he did not retire any of the four batters he faced, giving up a double, walk, double, and capped off with a beanball to Matt Chapman. Aaron Bummer almost got out of it with no further damage, getting a fielder’s choice at home and a backwards K. Then he gave up a two-run single to Santiago Espinal before Tony La Russa called for Jimmy lambert, who gave up an RBI single to Bo Bichette.
The White Sox following scoring three runs in the top of the inning by using three pitchers in the bottom of the inning, a 4-3 game ballooned to an 8-3 game, and the Sox sulked to a sweep in Toronto.
Some solace: The Twins dropped three in a row to Detroit, which is uglier than getting swept by a red-hot Blue Jays team. But even that’s limited, because the Sox have slipped into third place behind the Guardians.
At three games below .500 and a run differential of -55, moral victories shouldn’t be claimed. It’s nice that they rallied late against Alek Manoah, but the seven highly efficient scoreless innings to open the game can’t be overlooked.
Tony La Russa’s lineup card also didn’t help. The Sox loaded the bases against Manoah in the first inning, and Andrew Vaughn never came to the plate. He was on deck when Yasmani Grandal struck out looking, and while Grandal might’ve been the victim of a wide plate, he doesn’t have the benefit of the doubt on actual strikes.
After the first, Manoah retired 16 in a row before José Abreu singled to lead off the seventh. He was then erased by a Gavin Sheets double play and another Grandal K.
The Sox could only successfully string together at-bats in the eighth, and that’s only because Matt Chapman looked to the wrong base on Leury García’s two-out chopper. The shift left nobody in position to cover second, and by the time he turned to first, he had no throw. The “infield single” extended the inning, and Luis Robert delivered a double to the left-center gap to take advantage of the miscue.
That chased Manoah from the game, and while Charlie Montoyo called for Adam Cimber, Yoán Moncada responded to the challenge with a muscled RBI single to left center to score Robert. The inning ended on a José Abreu flyout.
Alas, the Sox were still one run short, because Johnny Cueto had a couple of bad sequences. In the fifth, Espinal drove an 0-1 cutter that caught too much of the plate into the right-center gap for a two-out RBI double that gave Toronto a 2-0 lead. An inning later, he missed up on a fastball to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for a full-count double, followed by a changeup that Teoscar Hernandez launched to left for a two-run homer.
The first run he allowed was unearned, as Leury García couldn’t handle Gavin Sheets’ throw to second base, allowing Raimel Tapia to take third after a leadoff double. Cueto then recorded three outs over the next three batters, with Tapia scoring on a double play.
Cueto met the bare minimum for a quality start, so the 2.92 ERA reflects the job he’s been doing, even though he still doesn’t have a win to show for it.
*The Sox went 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position. The denominator was the problem.
*Reese McGuire served as DH despite a .491 OPS coming into this game. He did single and score, the only one of the back-five batters with a hit.