If you’re like me and want to see the White Sox lose 100 games so it accurately reflects the day-in, day-out misery of following this team for the generations to come, then the White Sox picked one of the more watchable ways to do it.
Dylan Cease ended his season on an OK note, Yoán Moncada homered for the second straight night, and Carlos Pérez victimized Josh Hader for his first major-league home run to make a game of it in the ninth. Those solo shots just happened to be all the runs the Sox scored, and it wasn’t enough to offset Yohan Ramirez’s sudden discombobulation.
The Sox trailed 1-0 courtesy of one of the more unusual sequences you’ll see when Ramirez took over for Cease in the sixth. He started the inning with a groundout and a strikeout, but then he unraveled. He walked Brett Sullivan on four pitches, got ahead of Matthew Batten 1-2 before missing with three straight, then got ahead of Trent Grisham 1-2 before going full.
Ramirez wishes he’d walked Grisham, because he instead left a sinker up on the inner half, and Grishman lined it to right-center for a double that scored both runs with ease, since both were running with the pitch. That put the Sox behind 3-0, and Ramirez capped off his night with a sinker that deflected off Xander Bogaerts’ hand and hit Korey Lee in the groin. His long-awaited first HBP with the White Sox was a 2-for-1.
That ended up cementing Cease’s loss, even if he deserved a no-decision. He started the fifth by striking out Matthew Batten on three pitches. The third pitch was a slider in the dirt that bounced in front of the plate, and Lee didn’t get his mitt all the way down. It skipped through his legs and well into foul territory on the third-base side. Batten ran hard to first, and then he caught Lee off-guard by not breaking stride toward second, and ended up just beating Lee’s throw to the bag for the rare two-base dropped third strike. He ended up scoring on another wild pitch and a Bogaerts sac fly.
Cease was fine otherwise, and so was the rest of the White Sox bullpen, even if Deivi García and Bryan Shaw also flirted with two-out walks in their appearances.
The White Sox offense just couldn’t come up with the big hit, even if they came up with some big hits. Moncada blistered a double off the right-field wall, then followed it up with a solo shot on Robert Suarez’s hanging changeup for the Sox’s first run in the eighth.
Moncada had a chance to make it three straight successful plate appearances when he strode to the plate with the tying and winning runs on base. Pérez shocked Hader by ambushing a 2-1 sinker for a no-doubt shot to left to start the ninth, and while Tim Anderson flied out, Andrew Benintendi walked, and Eloy Jiménez took one off the toe. Zach Remillard pinch-ran for him, and the drama heightened further when Moncada got ahead 3-0.
He took a sinker for strike one, watched another one on the low, outside corner for strike two, and while he got Hader to come over the middle of the plate on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Moncada couldn’t elevate it. He instead grounded to short for a 6-4-3 double play turned by the Padres just in time.
The White Sox went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11, because they actually drew five walks along with the Jiménez toe tap. Moncada bookended an otherwise exciting night by stranding a pair of runners in his first and last plate appearances, and Tim Anderson also struggled in the clutch. He grounded out to third with a pair of runners on in the fifth, then flied out to shallow right with the bases loaded and one out, and Andrew Benintendi couldn’t pick him up, grounding out to first.
*Elvis Andrus committed an error with two outs in the eighth when his attempt to play Grisham’s grounder in the outfield grass was foiled by a tough hop.
*The Padres went 1-for-8 with 12 stranded themselves, so it wasn’t a clinic in the clutch.
*The Padres were eliminated from postseason contention during the game because the Marlins rallied to beat the Pirates. The White Sox were eliminated weeks ago.