White Sox 12, Twins 2: Slamming a series open

Bullet-point recap, because I have the White Sox Wake-Up Call in the morning and I don’t want to plagiarize myself too much:

*One swing of the bat from Luis Robert eased the tensions of this game dramatically, as his grand slam off Sonny Gray turned a 2-1 game loaded with missed opportunities and charted a new course toward a laugher.

*Rocco Baldelli might’ve swapped bodies with Tony La Russa, because he had a really weird night. In the second inning, he didn’t challenge a play at the plate that looked overturnable when AJ Pollock threw out Gio Urshela on Luis Arraez’s attempt at a game-tying sac fly. Baldelli held his challenge until another play at the plate in the sixth inning, when the Twins were about to trail 8-1 on a José Abreu sac fly attempt. Yoán Moncada was called safe, and the play stood.

*Baldelli also let Sonny Gray try to battle through a Josh Harrison line drive off his pitching shoulder with one out that started that fateful four-run fourth. Seby Zavala singled on 2-0 and Tim Anderson walked to load the bases. Gray then fell behind 3-1 before getting Yoán Moncada to ground into a fielder’s choice at home, but when he spun a third consecutive slider to Robert, Robert didn’t miss it. The line drive appeared to be rising when it hit the seats. Baldelli only lifted Gray after Abreu’s subsequent single.

*Johnny Cueto had his most adventurous quality start yet. He left the bases loaded in the first, limited the Twins to one run on an Urshela double in the second thanks to Pollock’s throw, then stranded a Byron Buxton leadoff triple in the third with a popout, strikeout and groundout. Only after Robert’s slam did Cueto provide the gift of a 1-2-3 inning.

*Cueto then stumbled into more trouble in the fifth when he appeared to tweak something trying to field Buxton’s swinging bunt. His pace slowed to a crawl as he walked Max Kepler on six pitches, then engaged in another full-count battle with Jorge Polanco. On the eighth pitch — and a third consecutive fastball — Polanco flied out deep to right field to end the threat. Through five innings, he’d scattered seven hits and two walks over 103 pitches, so it was a great time to call it a night.

*Except La Russa sent Cueto out for the sixth inning. Fortunately, Cueto responded by striking out the side, so he’ll go into the All-Star break with nine quality starts in 11 attempts, and proof that whatever he might’ve irritated by slipping in front of home plate wasn’t a factor. He heads into the break with a 2.80 ERA.

*Jimmy Lambert, Tanner Banks and José Ruiz handled the rest of the game, and while none of them pitched a clean inning, it was on hits, not walks. Ruiz suffered the only damage, giving up a solo shot to Kyle Garlick with two outs in the ninth.

*The White Sox offense inflicted plenty more damage by then. They turned a one-out error by Polanco into two runs in the sixth, with Robert adding his fifth RBI on a single, then the aforementioned Abreu sac fly that held up. Andrew Vaughn opened the seventh inning by taking Jharel Cotton out to the deepest part of the park in left center.

*The bottom of the order then padded stats against Nick Gordon. Pollock walked, Harrison doubled, and Seby Zavala hit a three-run homer to put the Sox into double digits.

*Zavala ended the game by fielding Gilberto Celestino’s nubber in front of home plate and tagging him out. Bodies bumped over the plate, as Celestino didn’t seem to think the ball would’ve stayed fair, and then benches cleared as the two exchanged words. The bullpens also cleared, but more because the game was over.

*The Twins were 1-for-10 in RISP situations with 10 stranded. The White Sox also stranded 10, but they were 5-for-11 in the clutch.

Record: 44-45 | Box score | Statcast

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Augusto Barojas

I posted this on first pitch. Is it wrong to think that Zavala’s hitting might make him more valuable than McGuire? I know it’s a small sample size but he killed it at AAA this year (OPS over .900). He’s certainly improved as a hitter. Even if he is unlikely to keep it up I like him in the lineup a lot more at the moment than McGuire.

soxygen

With as many lower half problems as Grandal has had, the fact that he is our highest paid player, and the fact that Sheets still has options, I would think that the thing to do would be to send Sheets to AAA, use Grandal as DH/1B, and hope Yas can hit enough to build some trade value by the off-season.

Last edited 26 days ago by soxygen
As Cirensica

This could buy some time for the White Sox to figure out what to do, and by that, I mean, who to trade. I can see Hahn doing a similar trade he did with Narvaez and landing a decent reliever selling high on Zavala

a-t

i think it looks pretty clear right now that Zavala is better. he’s almost certainly not gonna keep running a .420 (nice) BABIP or 135 wRC+, but after today his K% is a shade under 30%, which is high but significantly better than last year’s 39.4%.

the other thing is that he’s quietly been extremely good defensively per public metrics. Statcast and FRM think he’s been the second-best catcher in all of baseball in framing value on a rate basis. mcguire’s gonna get traded imo

Augusto Barojas

He could be a bright spot for the future of this team. They are gonna need a starting catcher by 2024 if not sooner, maybe he’ll be a pleasant surprise and can be adequate? I have no idea how much Grandal will be able to catch or if he will hit a lot better, but glad Zavala is looking quite good at least.

Joliet Orange Sox

I agree Zavala has been good during this stint with the big club. His babip is a cause for concern but it’s possible that he’s made a real improvement.

I think Zavala is yet another example of how hot takes among Sox fans often need to be revisited quickly. It wasn’t long ago that there were many calls for Zavala to just be gone. Reynaldo López had many calling for his release at one time. It was a common view for the first month or so of the 2021 season that the Sox should have traded Cease instead of Dunning. There were even people asking in these comments if Giolito was done just a few weeks ago.

Baseball is a game of fluctuations with players having hot streaks and slumps which can last a long time.

gibby32

True. However, like twitter, this is a place for hot takes. Your comment should cause folks to be more humble. Unlikely to happen, however.

metasox

Would be an interesting roster decision if the Sox felt Grandal was healthy enough to hit and play 1B, but not reliably catch

burning-phoneix

Zavala was always a touted as a good framer, his defensive liabilities are that he’s not a good blocker or thrower

metasox

In terms of depth chart, Zavala has been getting the majority of starts recently. 7 of last 10, I believe

upnorthsox

Yes a hot bat will do that. It’s an interesting dilemma, Zavala would have more appeal to out of contention/rebuilding teams who might have an available BP arm to deal. McGuire would appeal more to a contender looking for a backup but only a prospect in return. Or maybe I’m wrong and the no options is a big deal and neither has any value beyond a waiver claim.
Still, I feel an Oakland trade in the horizon.

Last edited 26 days ago by upnorthsox
soxygen

I don’t understand why the team would be better off doing that than sending Sheets to AAA. If Sheets is our left handed 1B/DH, if Yas’s knees can’t take the squatting, and if Seby and McGuire are playing well behind the dish, why would we give one of them away? Just replace one left handed DH with options for a switch hitting DH making $18M or whatever and keep your catching depth around while you see if Grandal can hold up for the second half of the season.

upnorthsox

Could be the move in the short term but it’s already mid July and we wont know anything really about where Yas is at by Aug 1st. Plus, LH power bat is one of our needs so subtracting one to add one is not a net positive.
He’s not someone I’d normally be interested in but I wonder if the Yanks would do a McGuire for Gallo trade? They need a backup C and are supposedly done with Gallo. I’d almost take Gallo just for2 months of the defense and then hope for him to catch fire.

a-t

I feel like the Yanks would need more, but that’s not a terrible idea to me

NancyFaustsOrgan

Trading a serviceable backup catcher for the ghost of Adam Dunn is indeed a terrible idea.

Augusto Barojas

The kind of improvement the Sox need is not an outfielder hitting .160 with almost 3 times as many strikeouts as hits. I know a Yankees fan who says Gallo is beyond awful. I believe him.

gibby32

Not a crazy take, but that would mean more Vaughn in the outfield. I suspect that they will manipulate the IL until September when the rosters expand to 30, I believe.

metasox

Did the Sept roster size increase? I thought it was still 28. I could see an extra catcher now and/or in Sep. But at this point, any kind of roster manipulation really has to take a back seat to winning games

gibby32

I thought that the September roster limit was 30, but I could be wrong.

knoxfire30

Lets hope these competent lineups continue

No reason seb shouldnt be in over mcguire
no reason harrison shoudnt be in over garcia

FUCK any rest days this is the turnaround series, you have the all star break for “rest” run the same damn lineup out Today and tomorrow as you did last night.

metasox

Sheets against a lefty? Things are getting crazy

knoxfire30

If eloy isnt ready who else are they gonna deploy… Engle or Garcia… I hate sheets vs a lefty but I value the continuity of a lineup

a-t

I think Engel vs a lefty is better than sheets tbh. Even if the offense is a wash, the defense is not

Nellie Fox

Crazy to think larussa will do when grandahl comes back? I agree with you, Sox need to play guys to win and not to play to their egos.

burning-phoneix

Rocco Baldelli might’ve swapped bodies with Tony La Russa, because he had a really weird night.

Nah, Rocco isn’t that good. He lead the Twins to that disastrous last place finish last season. We just don’t notice his bizarre decisions because we don’t watch Twins games.

BenwithVen

That was a real vulgar display of power by La Pantera

soxygen

It was nice to get the power, especially given the couple of balls in the early innings that he…misplayed might be too strong a word…played sub-optimally?

Lurker Laura

He’s been off defensively for awhile. Wonder if that’s an effect of post-covid fatigue as well.

soxygen

Could be, though failing to track the ball or breaking in the wrong direction seem more like a “has his head up a certain part of his anatomy” problems than a fatigue problem.

Last edited 26 days ago by soxygen
fustercluck

ah, but he didn’t Walk

Right Size Wrong Shape

This comment gets This Love.

soxygen

Robert’s UZR/150 kind of tells the story of his defense: 2020 it was 8.6; 2021 it was -2.2; 2022 it is -17.5. It’s actually an astounding decline for a guy his age.

It’s not just the range either – it’s a hot mess. He just doesn’t see the ball well or break in the right direction, he doesn’t communicate well with the other fielders, then doesn’t go hard for the ball, and then also doesn’t get rid of it quickly.

BenwithVen

on statcast, his OF jump went from 86th percentile in 2021 to 20th percentile this year. I don’t know if that’s the affects of his hip injury or COVID or whatever but that’s quite a drop.

chipporter

Besides that Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?

soxygen

Per fangraphs, the White Sox have the worst outfield defense in the majors by most advanced metrics (UZR, outs and runs above average, etc.). It isn’t close, either.

In terms of run prevention, the Sox outfielders are 12 runs below average and the Twins are 15 above average – that gap of 27 runs goes a long way towards explaining the standings in the division.

Hopefully the Sox are able to clean it up, but I won’t hold my breath!

Last edited 26 days ago by soxygen
phillyd

On the replay it looked like Urshela’s foot hit the ground a few inches in front of the plate and came off the ground and he was tagged before it came back down. He looked out on the replays I saw.

Nellie Fox

Good observation, I thought the same. There should have been dirt on the plate if he hit the slide clean. That is what the twins coach thought too.

soxygen

I hear what you are saying and wondered the same myself. I think the reason it was such a notable decision had less to do with whether he was out or safe than it did with what a huge play it was and that there was a real chance the call could be reversed. Under those circumstances it doesn’t really make sense to hold on to the challenge for later because that play could have been the game.