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The Cleveland Guardians trailed the Minnesota Twins tonight 3-0 before tying the game in one fell swoop in the seventh. They went on to win, 4-3.
The White Sox trailed the Detroit Tigers tonight 2-0 before tying the game in one fell swoop in the eighth. They went on to lose in 10 innings, 3-2.
“What do they have that we don’t have?” is a question the White Sox have probably been asking themselves for weeks, and they probably know the answers, which is why they’re in desperate search for a workaround. That search is harder now, because the White Sox are back to trailing Cleveland by four games.
The evening was also a waste because the eighth inning featured a couple of dramatic elements that would’ve been way, way cooler in a win.
In the top of the inning, the Sox mounted a threat with one out. Josh Harrison doubled, Elvis Andrus singled off of third baseman Ryan Kreidler, but Yoán Moncada popped out to stall the threat.
Leury García further jeopardized the rally with kindness. Spencer Torkelson showed poor body control in flagging down Moncada’s pop-up, hopping into the catch and almost throwing his body over the railing of the first-base dugout. Had he plummeted all the way in, Harrison and Andrus would’ve both advanced a base, but García grabbed Torkelson by the belt, giving Torkelson time to redistribute his body weight back into play.
García’s conscience cost the Sox a base, but karma repaid the Sox when José Abreu followed with a double inside third base. Andrus was in motion and thus scored easily, but it checked up against the side wall in such a way that even a static Andrus makes it all the way around, and that’s how the Sox tied the game.
The game remained tied after eight because of an even crazier sequence, and of course Joe Kelly was involved.
Javier Báez led off with a double which was the product of two mistakes: 1) Kelly hanging a curveball in the zone on a 1-2 count, and 2) AJ Pollock taking it slightly easy on a ball that required him to move quite a bit laterally, allowing Baez to beat the rushed throw in by plenty.
Eric Haase followed with a bullet to the right side, but José Abreu was well-positioned and gloved it. He looked initially at third, but he opted for the sure out at first, so Torkelson came to the plate. Kelly got ahead 1-2, but then threw three curves low and away that Torkelson resisted.
Torkelson could not resist a fourth in the dirt, but Yasmani Grandal also couldn’t catch it. It bounced off his shin guard and out of his reach, so Báez broke for home…
… except the ball caromed toward the mound, so Kelly hustled in, reached down and flipped the ball with his glove to Grandal, who tagged Báez’s torso as Báez tried to step around the tag. Had Báez tried a slide or dive, Grandal might not have been able to find him in time, but because Báez remained standing, so did the Sox.
At least until the 10th, when Alex Lange struck out all three White Sox he faced in the top of the 10th. Liam Hendriks was tasked with stranding the runner on second, but the job became tougher when he bounced the throw to first after Willi Castro’s sac bunt. That gave back an out he could ill afford to lose, and while he struck out Riley Greene, his attempt to throw a high fastball past Victor Reyes ended up belt high, and Reyes hit a game-winning, no-doubt sac fly to center.
Considering the White Sox produced four total bases over seven shutout innings by Matt Manning, they didn’t really deserve to win this game, but it would’ve been cooler if they did. Manning pumped strikes with both his fastball and slider — 59 of 87 pitches — and the Sox could only muster unremarkable contact.
Lucas Giolito had to work harder. He was throwing softer, which probably had a lot to do with it. Giolito’s spent most of the night 90-91, forcing him to rely on his changeup and slider mor ethan he wanted to. He avoided disaster by limiting Detroit to a single second-inning run, but he also allowed four hits and three walks over 4⅔ innings while throwing 96 pitches.
Miguel Cairo managed this one proactively by calling for Jimmy Lambert to finish the fifth, which he did by striking out Eric Haase to strand two runners. Lambert did hang a slider to Jonathan Schoop for a solo shot in the sixth, which turned out to be the bullpen’s only blemish in regulation. Jake Diekman pitched a perfect seventh, Kelly pulled a scoreless eighth out of thin air, and Reynaldo López validated Cairo’s choice for the ninth inning of a tie game with a 1-2-3 inning.
Cairo pretty much made every correct in-game decision, which shows the limitations of relying on the manager to account for all meaningful in-season improvements, especially when “in-season” is limited to the final month.
*The shortstops had eventful games: Báez went 3-for-3 with a walk, two throwing errors and that baserunning out at home plate. Andrus went 3-for-5, stole a base, scored the tying run, reached on a Báez error, and failed to cut off Pollock’s throw from center on Báez’s double-turned-triple.
*The White Sox went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, but the Tigers were 1-for-9.
*Moncada did not have an eventful game in the second spot, going 0-for-5 with six stranded. There’s one Cairo decision that can be rethought.
*The fifth through eighth spots in the lineup went 0-for-16 with three strikeouts.
*Harrison made a diving stab in the ninth inning on a hot shot by Schoop, the kind of play he hadn’t been making lately.