If the last week is predictive in any fashion, then it’s not worth overreacting to a White Sox performance that was uninspiring as it was unlikable to open a series against an also-ran, because they’ll gradually turn it around and leave Texas in better shape than they arrived.
Outside of Johnny Cueto’s complete game, everything about the White Sox was unlikable.
The White Sox only scored two runs against a lefty making his MLB debut (Cole Ragans) and a scattershot Texas bullpen. One of those runs crossed because the White Sox had their fastest runner on third base when Andrew Vaughn hit a chopper off the plate. The other scored because the Rangers outfield converged on a single to the right-center gap and kicked the ball behind them for a “triple.”
The White Sox had the leadoff hitter aboard in five straight innings and only had one run to show for it. Their only extra-base hit was the defense-aided three-bagger in the eighth that made it a one-run game. They went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine. It would’ve been more, but they grounded into two double plays.
Cueto was saddled with the loss thanks in part to the lackluster offensive support, and partially because of Vaughn’s play in right field. He was able to pitch around Vaughn’s inability to flag down Corey Seager’s high fly to the right-center gap that landed for a ground-rule double with one out in the sixth inning, but the seventh inning was a different matter.
Cueto created his own trouble when he threw high to first in his attempt to throw out Adolis Garcia on his swinging bunt to start the inning, but he tried to minimize it when he cut down Garcia at second on Leody Taveras’ attempted sac bunt. Alas, Ezequiel Duran followed by lofting a weak fly to right, and Vaughn couldn’t get there in time, either, which put runners on first and second.
With the Sox already two outs in the hole, Meibrys Viloria made them pay with a single through the vacated left side for a go-ahead single and a 2-1 lead. Duran took third, and while Bubba Thompson tried to squeeze him home, he bunted the ball right back to Cueto, so Duran had to hold. It didn’t matter, because Josh Harrison was slow to cover first on his long run to the bag, so the bases were loaded on out No. 4. Then Marcus Semien lofted a fly to right center, and the Sox were lucky to record out No. 5 considering AJ Pollock and Vaughn collided on the play. It was still good for a sac fly, and the Rangers had the run they needed.
*The Rangers improved to 6-23 in one-run games, while they Sox fell to 18-12.
*Cueto posted a line straight out of the 1980s: 8 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K on 106 pitches.
*Tim Anderson went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.
*Anderson did combine with Cueto for a heads-up out at third base, with Cueto covering the briefly unoccupied third base after a weak chopper to third threw the infield into temporary disarray.
*Robert reached base three times in his return to action, going 1-for-3 with two walks and two strikeouts.
*One of those strikeouts should’ve been a walk, but he was rung up by Rob Drake on a pitch well inside, which was a habit. His ump scorecard will be worth waiting for tomorrow.