Guardians 7, White Sox 4: Liam Hendriks falters in tied ninth

Editor’s note: I’ve spent the last five days or so flattened by COVID, including this afternoon. I’d just finished putting Mini Margalus down for a nap right at noon, which gave me enough time to put the game up on my laptop, get into bed, and immediately fall asleep until Liam Hendriks gave up the first of four hits in a three-run ninth that decided the game.

Bullet-point recap:

*Tony La Russa sat Tim Anderson because of some weird answer involving All-Star Game travel.

*Liam Hendriks then showed that La Russa might’ve had merit. He gave up a leadoff double to Nolan Jones on a down-and-in slider that Jones kept fair inside the line, then gave up a game-tying single Josh Naylor on a pitch in front of his face that gave the Guardians a 5-4 lead. Myles Straw bunted pinch-running Alex Call to second, and Steven Kwan knocked him in with a single. Another single and a sac fly made it 7-4, giving fellow All-Star Emmanuel Clase an easy cushion for his own reintroduction to the second half.

*Johnny Cueto did his thing by pitching seven innings on the front end of a doubleheader, giving into the Guardians’ ways by not recording a strikeout of any of the 29 batters he faced. Six of those innings were scoreless. The other we’ll get to.

*The White Sox were retired in order by Triston McKenzie, but broke into the hit and run columns in the fourth when Yasmani Grandal dropped a lob wedge behind the second baseman for the game’s first run.

*The Guardians answered with four runs in the top of the fifth, including a characteristic sequence of run-scoring hits. First, Steven Kwan dropped a double just inside the left-field line to make it a 1-1 game, after which Amed Rosario lined a single to right that scored two runs. What’s more: Rosario ended up on third because he took second on the throw, then advanced to third when the throw escaped Seby Zavala and Johnny Cueto. Cueto’s throw then was well wide of third base, and while there was enough backup to prevent a Little League Home Run, a José Ramírez sac fly made it all the same, and Cleveland 4-1.

*The White Sox did manage to answer immediately to tie the game, and all the runs scored with two outs. Josh Harrison dropped a double inside the right-field line that scored Leury García, followed by Yoán Moncada lofting a double that managed to perfectly foil Cleveland’s outfield positioning in left-center. Andrew Vaughn then tied the game by floating a liner to center off Trevor Stephan, who was brought in to face him.

*They had a chance to take the lead, as singles by José Abreu and Yasmani Grandal loaded the bases, but Stephan finally ended the inning by wiping out Gavin Sheets on four pitches.

*The Sox tried to small-ball their way to a go-ahead run in the eighth as Leury García bunted over Seby Zavala, but AJ Pollock struck out and Harrison grounded out.

*Harrison made a great sliding stab and throw from shallow left field to retire Andres Gimenez to start the sixth.

Record: 46-48 | Box score | Statcast

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Get well, Jim!

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Sorry, Jim, but I am not buying that LaRussa’s all-star game bullshit vis-a-vis Anderson had any merit, irrespective of Hendriks’ performance. Anderson is 28 years old and plays baseball for a living, which sometimes requires exertion beyond playing one game a day. He sat because LaRussa continually fails to see urgency and because he alone see merit in starting Leury Garcia. It is infuriating, but, by this point, not surprising.