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After Eloy Jiménez greeted Raisel Iglesias with a double to open the bottom of the ninth with the White Sox trailing by one, I looked at the scoreboard to determine who might be the hero.
César Hernández did not yet have a walk-off for the White Sox this season, so the game needed to get to him.
It did, courtesy of a García infield single sandwiched between strikeouts of Sheets and Goodwin that extended the inning long enough for Hernández to play hero.
Almost. Hernández delivered the at-bat Goodwin could’ve used a batter before, but no later. He flied out to the warning track in left field to end the game, as the White Sox proved unable to answer a third Los Angeles run after responding to their first two single tallies.
The decisive blow was Brandon Marsh’s solo shot off Michael Kopech in the eighth. Kopech had retired the first five batters he faced without incident, but his 101-mph fastball ran back over the middle of the plate, thigh-high, and Marsh redirected it into the first rows of the bleachers in left center for a 3-2 game.
The whole game was that tight. Dallas Keuchel threw a quality start despite throwing more balls than strikes because the Angels grounded into a couple double plays, while the Sox previously wasted a leadoff double earlier in the game.
Keuchel had a weird night, working around 12 baserunners over six innings. Yet he cracked 90 multiple times, and the first of the two runs he allowed should’ve been unearned. Yoán Moncada waited back for the big hop on a Phil Gosselin chopper, which would’ve been fine had he not taken his time throwing the ball to first. Gosselin beat it by a hair, a replay overturned the out call, and the Angels led 1-0 after three
At least Moncada evened up the score an inning later, turning on a Janson Junk 3-1 fastball and sending it into the Goose Island.
That was the only run the White Sox scored off the Angels rookie, but when the Angels notched a second run off Keuchel in the sixth, the Sox tied it up once more with a one-out double by José Abreu, followed by a Yasmani Grandal single through the right side.
One could question whether Keuchel should’ve pitched the sixth, as his control was a hair off all night and he was approaching 100 pitches. You could probably argue it didn’t work from the results — he allowed a pair of one-out singles and a sac fly, temporarily sliding into a position for the loss.
But in a rotation where Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Carlos Rodón are all limited while coming back from injury and Dylan Cease just got shelled, there’s probably a little bit of hidden value in a quality start, even if one of the two runs was allowed in the final frame. Keuchel’s just about the only guy who can throw as many pitches as he wants without compromising October plans, so perhaps Tony La Russa wanted to indulge that luxury.
In the end, he probably was successful in doing so, because Keuchel wasn’t the pitcher of record, and La Russa only had to use two relievers afterward with a day game coming up tomorrow, and no off days on the horizon.
*Keuchel seemed to think he was squeezed, but Statcast shows that Pat Hoberg called a pretty accurate zone for him, with a lot of near-misses.
*The White Sox struck out 11 times on the night, but eight of those strikeouts came over the last three innings. Mike Mayers and Steve Cishek struck out the side, while Iglesias fanned two.
*Leury García tried small ball by bunting Gavin Sheets to third after his leadoff double in the fifth, but playing for one run resulted in none when Sheets was cut down at home by 20 feet on an ill-advised contact play.
*Cleveland won, so the White Sox’s magic number remains seven. Houston won, so the White Sox are three back of the Astros for home field advantage (two games, technically, but Houston owns the tiebreaker).
*This was the first game I’d seen at Guaranteed Rate Field in more than two years. The lights after a home run are better in person than on TV.