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The 2020 White Sox went 30-2 when leading a game entering the eighth inning.
The 2021 White Sox have already matched that loss total three games in.
While the defense was responsible for the first one, this game fell on the shoulders of Evan Marshall, who couldn’t get a low sinker past Anthony Rendon for a single, hung a changeup to Jared Walsh for an RBI triple that tied the game, then failed on another low sinker to Justin Upton for a two-run homer for the final score.
Not that the defense was spotless. No, the White Sox just committed its embarrassing error earlier in the game. With a runner on first and two outs in the third inning, Lance Lynn induced a harmless pop fly to shallow center. Tim Anderson backpedaled and called for it, but in came Luis Robert calling him off. That’s his right, but he has to make sure he’s in position to make the catch.
And he was. So much so that the ball caromed off his head and into right center field.
David Fletcher scored all the way from first to tie the game at 2, and Rendon advanced to second when Adam Eaton’s throw hit the mound and sprung over Zack Collins’ head. The second error was almost as costly as the first, because Rendon scored on Jared Walsh’s more conventional single through the left side to make it a 2-1 game.
The errors also required Lynn to throw eight more pitches to get out of the inning. And it just so happened that Lynn could only last 4⅔ innings, having thrown 99 pitches by the time Rendon came to the plate for a third time with the potential go-ahead run on second when the game was tied at 2. In the process, Tony La Russa ended Lynn’s streak of 37 games with 100 pitches or more.
Another streak came to an end, but not until it already reached preposterous lengths. After going 5-for-5 in his first start, Yermín Mercedes opened tonight with three hits in his first three plate appearances. The first resulted in his first career homer, as he yanked an Alex Cobb splitter well over the left-field wall to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead.
Two innings later, Mercedes found himself in the middle of a sequence of three strong plate appearances. He followed Zack Collins’ one-out walk by spanking a single through the middle. Luis Robert then came to the plate and rifled a single to left that scored Collins to tie the game at 2, which helped him make up somewhat for the blooper earlier in the game.
Mercedes then gave the Sox another lead in the sixth, following a Yoán Moncada HBP and a Collins single with his own drive to left center that one-hopped the wall. Moncada scored and Collins moved to third with nobody out. Alas, Robert popped out, Andrew Vaughn struck out, and Leury García grounded out to leave a run on the table. They could have used the cushion.
Mercedes’ streak finally came to an end in the eighth, battling Tony Watson to a full count before flying out to center. Still, Mercedes sustained perfection long enough to stand alone.
Also, credit Garrett Crochet for doing what he could to get a lead across the line. He validated La Russa’s decision to pull Lynn by retiring all seven batters he faced, including three by strikeout. La Russa only needed to use two relievers on the night despite the short start. It just so happened that Marshall wasn’t up to the task.
*Garciá went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and four stranded from the ninth spot. He also hit for himself to open the ninth for reasons I don’t understand, which turned out to be one of the K’s.
*Vaughn went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and four stranded from the eighth spot, with Billy Hamilton taking over for him again in the seventh. Hamilton ended up coming to the plate in the eighth and struck out himself. Somehow, left field is the one position without an embarrassing error thus far.