White Sox 2, Guardians 1: A hard-earned split

The White Sox offense didn’t put together the kind of showing I’d hoped for against Aaron Civale. That was mostly because Civale left after one inning with right wrist soreness, but even with a parade of front-end Cleveland relievers covering eight innings in emergency fashion, the White Sox could only put up offense in one of those frames.

Thanks to Lucas Giolito, the back end of the White Sox bullpen and a defense that helped more than it hurt, that one two-run inning was good enough to salvage a split.

Giolito threw 6⅓ innings of one-run ball, and it could’ve been scoreless ball had either Tony La Russa pulled him a batter or two earlier, or Josh Harrison not booted what should’ve been an inning-ending grounder with two outs on Reynaldo López’s watch.

But one blemish wasn’t enough to ruin the evening. Giolito himself was sterling, limiting the Guardians to five hits and a walk to the last batter he faced while striking out five. He wasn’t a whiff monster — only seven over 91 pitches — but he only allowed four hard-hit balls all night, and the shorter plate appearances kept him on the economical side. When the Cleveland lineup circled back for the third time through, he had more in the tank.

While Giolito suffered from a miscue to end his evening, he benefited from strong defense earlier, even if it was needed to override the Sox’s first error. Amed Rosario reached on an infield single and advanced second when Anderson’s throw went in the dugout.

José Ramírez followed by hooking a drive down the right field line, but AJ Pollock — starting in right field with Jiménez opening the game in left — ran it down before it dropped inside the chalk, then held the runner after crashing into the wall. Of the White Sox’s less-than-ideal corner options, I don’t think anybody else makes that play.

Giolito then struck out Josh Naylor before getting Franmil Reyes to pop up behind home plate. Seby Zavala located the ball, then made a lunging grab into and over a softer fence that guided him back into play with the out secured, which kept the game scoreless.

The Sox blew their own golden opportunities early and late, but they earned their two runs in the sixth. Yoán Moncada led off against Sam Hentges with his second walk, followed by a Luis Robert single. Up came José Abreu, who appeared intent on doing too much when he chased the first two pitches out of the zone to fall behind 0-2. But Hentges made a mistake with his third pitch, and Abreu pounded it off the right field wall for the game’s first run.

Eloy Jiménez was the one who struck out on three pitches, but that was only good for the first out, so Andrew Vaughn’s subsequent chopper over the mound was worth an RBI and a 2-0 lead. (Jiménez ended up leaving the game after the bottom of the inning when he pulled up lame after running down Ramírez’s line drive to the left center gap for the final out of the sixth.)

Other opportunities went by the boards. Two deep drives off Civale in the first inning died on the right field warning track, and Robert started the fourth with a double and advanced no further. In the sixth, Robert tried to add insurance when he followed Tim Anderson’s two-out single and Moncada’s walk with a shot to the left side, but a ball that appeared to have a good chance to skip by the shortstop instead plunked Anderson on the hip for the rare inning-ending HOTBLAN.

It didn’t matter, because after López got three grounders for two outs in the seventh, Kendall Graveman and Liam Hendriks each pitched perfect innings with two strikeouts apiece to close it out. Graveman did an especially fine job of battling back after falling behind against the top of the Cleveland order.

Bullet points:

*Moncada and Robert each reached base three times in front of Abreu in the cleanup spot, which is a fine recipe for success.

*Jiménez was removed from the game with tightness in his right leg. The White Sox are calling him day-to-day.

*The White Sox are back to a half-game behind Cleveland. They remain five games behind the Twins, who probably got what they wanted with a split here.

Record: 43-45 | 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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MrStealYoBase

Will always take a win, but Cleveland has been scuffling. This would have been the perfect time to pin an extra loss or two on them.

Overall the team has been decent at capitalizing when there’s blood in the water. The sweeps against Boston and SF being the best examples. But they need to do that every time there’s a chance. Losing that series to the Angels (who’ve gone 1-10 since then) and the mystifying mediocrity against KC being the best examples besides this set against the Guardians.

It shouldn’t be asking too much to turn this perpetual 5-5 stretch they’ve been in since May into a 6-4 or 7-3 on a more consistent basis.

Last edited 4 months ago by MrStealYoBase
chipporter

When Eloy gets Dl’d they should bring up Neslony so Leury can get more OF playing time.

phillyd

Does anybody on this team pull the ball in the air anymore?

StockroomSnail

That would result in home runs, so no.

a-t

they are not really beating the platoon split accusations. saw six pitchers and only scored on the lefty lol. but that’s fine.

winning this series at minnesota is vital.

Joliet Orange Sox

HOTBLAN is very clever and funny (one might say margalusian) but I’m not sure the N really applies. Robert hit the ball with an exit velocity of 111.6 mph at a launch angle of 7˚. Tough for TA to read and react quickly enough to avoid being hit.

(Also, the recap has the Sox scoring the two runs in the sixth and the HOTBLAN also happening in the sixth. I believe the HOTBLAN was in the seventh.)

soxygen

Like a dead duck? HOTBLADD?

Joliet Orange Sox

I like HOTBLADD.

How about HOTBLADDER with ER for “Ending Rally”?

(I think Foreigner recorded a song called Hot Bladder in the late 1970s.)

hitlesswonder

I’d really rather Abreu be on the team next season rather than Eloy.

Joist

a) I agree with you.
b) Could you imagine sincerely believing this in 2019?

denman

I certainly would rather have Abreu on the team next season rather than Eloy on the team but constantly on the DL, rehabbing with the Knights, or struggling to readjust to major league pitching.

shaggy65

I was thinking the exact same thing! While watching the game tonight I was wondering if a rebuilding team might still value Eloy’s upside enough to send us a legitimate upgrade at the deadline.

soxygen

It would need to be a rebuilding team with money and a hope of competing in the next couple of years though. If I am not mistaken he is owed $24M +\- between now and the end of 2024, plus a $3M buyout in 2025 for a team that doesn’t pick up the first team option, so basically the acquiring team would be on the hook for roughly $27M for two years, and the Sox are not a team that often pitches in for salary relief in order to get better players/prospects back.

mikeyb

Send him to the Cubs for Willson Contreras.

soxygen

In this scenario, is there another team that would want Eloy? I mean, the problem is what to do with an untradeable mess. The Sox kind of have to fix him. They don’t have to re-sign an aging first baseman.

Amar

Perhaps it’s a small sample, but Pito led the AL with 3 WAR over the last two months. Which is crazy considering the lack of HRs and limited defensive value. Would love to see a deeper dive into changes in approach and long term sustainability.

https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2022&month=1000&season1=2022&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&startdate=2022-05-16&enddate=2022-12-31&sort=22,d

Amar

I wouldn’t bring Abreu back if not hitting 30 home runs is the new normal. But damn he has been great this year.

dwjm3

Eloy isn’t injury prone

Signed

Rick Hahn

As Cirensica

I have mentioned it here. It’s a theory, so I can’t prove anything, but those early extension to players before they even log 100 games can sometimes work or not. The power of incentive is taken off the picture. They are set for life whether they hit homers or grounders. They have so much money they began to pursue other things. Like music. Baseball becomes sort of like a hobby for some of them.

Most of these players are young players coming from poverty. Many without a high school diploma. You give them million of $, and some can fall prey of the easy life. Parties, idleness, fast cars, etc. “I’m young” they think. “I can take it”. Then the baseball season starts, they run a dash of 100 meters, and their hamstrings blows up. No preparation in the off season. No physical conditioning. No incentives.

I am not saying this is what is happening, but we can’t rule it out at least to some degree.

soxygen

I think there is also another cautionary tale here – don’t get too excited about prospects because the road to a productive major league career is a long one. It wasn’t that long ago that Eloy was one of the best hitters on any farm system in baseball. And yet here we are.

It may be what you say – too much money too soon – or it may just be injuries and body type. But it is a reality check.

Last edited 4 months ago by soxygen
Qubort

Eloy did win a silver slugger. The notion he was just a prospect that didn’t care seems like bit of stretch. Certain guys have injury issues. I don’t recall anyone claiming Nomar, Griffey, or Thomas injuries were due to their paychecks making them not care.

As Cirensica

Nomar, Thomas, and Griffey didn’t get early extensions worth million of dollars, did they? They have incentive. And not everybody is the same. There will be Ichiros, who had one of the most rigorous off-season trainings routines that I have ever seen, but there will be also Andruw Joneses whose career was pretty much done at 30 due to lack of physical conditioning.

Last edited 4 months ago by As Cirensica
soxygen

I think it is most likely injuries…I hope he shows up next spring in BSOL. We need him.

When it comes to attitude, the young player I worry about most is Robert. He often seems to be phoning it in, at least on the bases and on defense.

Last edited 4 months ago by soxygen
calcetinesblancos

I don’t think there’s any question that if he wants to be a productive major league ballplayer, he has to get in better shape and take his conditioning very seriously, and that doesn’t just include lifting weights and keeping his weight down since clearly he has issues with his muscles, ligaments, etc.

He’s already set for life, but especially with the now universal DH he could put position himself for a very nice payday in his next contract if he gets his act together and really starts to hit. Even better if he can hit and just be serviceable in LF. I guess we’ll see what happens, but the Sox have every incentive to get him going the next few years.

metasox

Maybe I am old school, but I see so much promotion of players who haven’t accomplished much – bobblehead giveaways and such – and wonder if it can send the wrong message. I realize it is about selling tickets and generating fan enthusiasm, and am not sure if it is has becoe the norm through much of the league. But maybe establishing a higher bar for celebrating a player – like Anderson to the ASG – makes more clear how the organization defines success.

ParisSox

The Twins with yet another walk off and against Hader. They seem to have a ton of walk offs and some serious mojo going like they feel they can beat anybody. I remember when the White Sox had that last year. Alas …

Time to summon my inner 12 year old again. C’mon! 2 in a row!! We can beat these Twins! Let’s take it to them, guys!!

Nellie Fox

They finally got an 8th and 9th inning relief pitcher that we all expected. Maybe, heavy on the maybe, this team has arrived?

Qubort

I wish Hahn would come out and say “This team has zero chance of winning the pennant.” Only because we’ve seen how his other quotes have worked out of, “The money will be spent” and “Eloy isn’t injury prone”.

ParisSox

“If anyone thinks we can catch Cleveland, they’re crazy.”

lifelongjd

Great game by Gio. He’s been much better of late. I still can’t believe our manager brought him out for that final inning after what happened last game. Wait, actually I can believe it.

If this team wants to compete, they need their starters to step up, specifically Lynn and Kopech. It starts tonight in Minnesota

soxygen

If what we need is more production/innings from an older heavyset guy who has been injured and had off-season knee surgery, and a guy in his first full season of starting…then we might be in trouble…point being that it was not a good idea to come into this season needing so much from those two guys. I’ve been saying all season that we have way too much riding on Lance Lynn being able to return to form.

Last edited 4 months ago by soxygen
soxygen

Here’s a thought exercise: what record at this point WOULDN’T be a disappointment? For example, would 47-41 still feel like a disappointment for a team with this much talent or with the preseason expectations that many had for the Sox this year? I think so. I keep pondering this question this week as a way to reality check my disappointment in the team’s performance.

Last edited 4 months ago by soxygen
Nellie Fox

Please tell that lazy outfielder named Robert to try to catch every fly ball hit in his direction.