Johnny Cueto was due to have an off night, but it would’ve been nice if his entire team didn’t join him.
The White Sox resumed their habit of awful series openers at home. Elvis Night went off the rails when Cueto was shelled for six runs in the second innings, and the offense could only respond with one run when it mattered against rookie Tommy Henry. (You could say they remembered the reason for the season by making fans want to shoot their television.)
Cueto was shelled for six runs in the second innings, and it was a stuff issue. The command wasn’t its usual self, but he was also lacking two ticks. His fastball averaged 89 mph, and even his best one only got up to 91.6. The combination proved fatal in the second inning, especially after a two-out walk to light-hitting Geraldo Peromo reloaded the bases for the top of the order.
The Sox were only trailing 1-0 after Eloy Jiménez flagged down Alek Thomas’ fly in the corner for a sac fly, but Josh Rojas didn’t have as much hang time on his drive to the same spot, and it rattled off the sidewall and toward the bullpen, allowing all three runs to score. Emmanuel Rivera then followed with a two-run shot that made it a 6-0 game, and the night became mainly about turning the page afterward.
Cueto did his part in that regard by sticking around through five, and Tanner Banks provided three scoreless innings to spare the bullpen further.
The offense also did its part, scoring just two runs on six hits and three walks, and AJ Pollock’s solo shot came in the ninth inning with the Sox down six.
Pollock opened the game with one of the worst at-bats, following Eloy Jiménez’s seven-pitch walk by swinging at a first-pitch slider below the zone and grounding into a routine 6-4-3 double play.
It didn’t help that the Diamondbacks outfield defense came to play. Dalton Varsho might’ve robbed Romy González of an opposite-field homer, and Alek Thomas — son of former White Sox strength and conditioning coordinator Allen Thomas — made two diving catches. The first made up for a poor route and took a double away from Adam Engel, but the second was a lunging catch that required a great route and every step to steal at least two bases from José Abreu.
Had the game come down to those plays, then you’d have to tip your hat at the effort. The White Sox were thoroughly beaten before then, and at the end, boos bid them farewell.
*Eloy Jiménez had another hamstring episode running out an infield single, but he’s supposedly fine. He reached base all three times up, drawing two walks.
*Carlos Pérez pinch-hit for his spot in the order and popped out to short in his first plate appearance.
*Seby Zavala went 2-for-3 from the bottom of the order, and his bat is why Pérez hadn’t played until now. Alas, the three hitters in front of him went 0-for-10.
*Cueto downplayed any velocity concerns, or the 113-pitch outing that preceded this one.