White Sox 2, Red Sox 1: Leury García plays his biggest hit yet

Garrett Whitlock had struck out Eloy Jiménez and Yasmani Grandal before getting ahead of Leury García 0-2, so you can’t necessarily blame him for thinking he’d gotten the Red Sox to the 10th inning after the Boston offense tied it off Craig Kimbrel in the top of the ninth.

But as we’d discussed a few days ago, García is in the middle of a weird little run where he routinely makes something out of nothing:

But he does look like a different sort of hitter, and what I’d suggest is that a lot of his improvement is in the gray area. For instance, American League hitters are batting .163/.197/.260 after falling behind 0-2. Garciá is batting .224/.263/.250 when his back is against the wall. He’s not quite Nick Madrigal, but he’s the closest thing after Luis Robert, who is batting .275/.302/.490 in such situations.

Likewise García has drawn 21 walks against relief pitchers this year, third behind Yoán Moncada and Yasmani Grandal. He seems to come up with productive plate appearances where you don’t think they should exist.

And sure enough, Whitlock gave García the opportunity to create. His 0-2 fastball split the plate, and García responded with fly ball that bisected the outfield wall by doinking off the batter’s eye 430 feet away for a walk-off homer.

With Tim Anderson set to return from injury after Monday’s off day, it makes sense that García would want to end his time at shortstop with a grand finale, at least if my “García-as-tribute-band” theory has any merit. In the process, he also extracted Craig Kimbrel — and maybe Luis Robert and Tony La Russa — from most of the postgame heat regarding the the top of the frame.

Kimbrel was pitching for a third straight day after going 1-for-2 in eighth innings over the first two games of this series, and Robert complicated the task at hand by misplaying Enrique Hernández’s hard-hit liner to center for a leadoff double. Kimbrel recovered briefly by striking out Kyle Schwarber, but the filled the other two bases with walks, and most pitches nowhere close.

I suppose the consequences could’ve been worse. Alex Verdugo tied the game with a sac fly, but Kimbrel struck out Bobby Dalbec to limit the damage to one run. There weren’t any easy calls, what with Liam Hendriks, Ryan Tepera and Aaron Bummer all facing a third straight day of work, and Jose Ruiz already ending the seventh and eighth innings. Ruiz had pitched well enough to start the ninth, but he also has a rich history of poor high-leverage appearances, and he doesn’t have much experience getting up for a third time.

All’s well that ends well, especially since this game also started well. Lance Lynn dominated over five innings in his return to from the injured list for knee inflammation, allowing just two singles while striking out nine. Moreover, he threw just 70 pitches, so the hook seemed precautionary rather than born out of inefficiency or overexertion otherwise. He generated 13 whiffs and 12 more called strikes on 70 pitches, and he kept the average exit velocity under 90 mph on all his pitches. The velocity was fine, the spin rate was there. Now we just have to wait for a positive recovery period, which an off day on Monday can assist.

The only thing that was lacking was the White Sox offense, which only totaled one run over the first eight innings against Nick Pivetta and Co., and needed help from the Boston defense to do so. One Hernández helped another, as Enrique rushed the throw right right field on César’s ordinary ground ball into the shift, resulting in a leadoff error. Seby Zavala bunted the runner to second, and Robert knocked him in with a single through the left side for an unearned run.

As inelegant as it was, the White Sox won two out of three against a quality opponent, with the three games of the series averaging 35,000-plus fans, and all three scores decided by one run. They’re close to the time of year where surviving and advancing is the name of the game, and they got good practice this weekend.

Bullet points:

*Robert also started a double play with a fine throw from the center field warning track to get Jose Iglesias, who bounced into second with an ugly dive into the base while attempting to tag up.

*Cleveland got swept by Milwaukee, so the White Sox increased their AL Central lead to a season-high 12 games while reducing the magic number to nine.

Record: 82-61 | Box score | Statcast

(Photo by Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports)

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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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Root Cause

Surely Leury read the article you wrote about him earlier this week as I find it hard to believe anyone can have that much insight into how he impersonates the person he replaces. Either way, that looked like a Timmy at bat.

jhomeslice

Great win. Lynn was razor sharp which is probably more important than the outcome of the game. Leury looked like the happiest guy on the planet. Great moment for him with his first ever walkoff.

soxfan

16 of the least consequential games in team history to close out the season. It’ll be a battle or who’s less interested between us and our opponents.

On the upside, the Astros have to play Toronto and a possible checked out Tampa Bay, so we still have a chance for the second spot.

jhomeslice

With home field at stake, I would hope the players aren’t THAT disinterested. It’s not as important as getting everyone healthy but home field could very well swing the outcome of a close series. So it’s not like there is nothing to play for.

On the wildcard front, Toronto looks like a dangerous team. I could see Tampa/Jays in the first round, which would be a great series too.

Malkatraz

Tepera didn’t pitch yesterday. He should’ve closed today.

metasox

Merkin’s MLB.com writeup of the game listed him as unavailable

calcetinesblancos

Was that the location the catcher wanted that ball? Terrible pitch selection regardless.

Root Cause

Much has been said about our team’s inability to beat winning clubs. Even in the loss, we didn’t give up. So here’s to beating the other sox team.

phillyd

Sox have won the season series against Boston, Toronto, and Oakland and have split with Tampa and Seattle. The Sox can hang with the big boys.

To Err is Herrmann

Craig Kimbrel, 2021

Cubs: 0.49 ERA, 36.2 IP, ERA+ 867, FIP 1.09, HR/9 3.2

Sox: 5.63 ERA, 16 IP, ERA+ 78, FIP 4.41, HR/9. 8.4

Wow, Just wow.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

It makes you wonder how the hell this guy gave up only 2 earned runs this year with the Cubs.

I know not all trades work out, but this seems pretty crazy to have that much of a difference in pre/post trade performance, in the same year. In a trade where the player didn’t even have to change cities.

To Err is Herrmann

It’s a disappointment. TLR was very positive in postgame interview, employing the mental game learned optimism sports psychology mindset made popular by Dorfman, as any good manager would. And maybe Kimbrel is pitching better, how would I know. This isn’t fair to him at all, but tonight when he gave up that run my mind made a loose association and I told my wife “they should just call him Craig Scrapnel.”

To Err is Herrmann

Scrapnel’s updated stats, 17IP, 5.82 ERA

burning-phoneix

Great win but I’m still concerned by the White Sox’s great ability to make mediocre RHP look like world beaters.

ParisSox

Jim, Could you please write an article on lottery numbers? Thanks.

As Cirensica

The 5-inning and rest strategy for starters is a good way to get the starters a break and rest before the post-season, but yesterday we saw the cost of it. Relievers pitching 3 days in a row. Relievers not available to pitch because they were heavily used in the previous games. We are not taxing our starters, but we are taxing our relievers.

Maybe it is time to make tough decisions, and send somebody down and get a reliever or two. Mendick, Romy and Sheets are players we can send down for Tim Anderson and [relievers, Foster?]. The good news is that we have a day off today. Pitchers will appreciate that.

I think Hamilton is a tremendous weapon for the post season, and Goodwin is more experienced to do what Sheets brings.

Last edited 9 months ago by As Cirensica
LamarHoyt_oncrack

In addition to Foster, Jace Fry has pretty good numbers. He has sucked on the Sox before so he is not a great option, but when you’re talking about just bringing up a pitcher or two who might be able to give them some mediocre innings, he might be able to do that.

Cease could use a rest as well, career high in innings for him also. Aside from resting him, I see no need for Keuchel to hold a roster spot if they want Lopez to start in his place. Better chance of getting more innings from Lopez in a start at this point to save on the pen.

Keuchel’s last start was a little better, but unless he has a solid one in his next, it’s hard to see him having much of a role. They might keep him around and just accept that they will probably lose games that he starts, for lack of better options.

Last edited 9 months ago by LamarHoyt_oncrack
joewho112

Lynn was coming back from the IL with no rehab. I don’t think the plan in to set his pitch count to 70 for his remaining starts

roke1960

They are handling the starters very well. Just go with a 6-man the rest of the way, and set them exactly how the matchups will work best.

As Cirensica

Nice to see your name back in the comment area Roke. Hopefully you are fully recovered.

roke1960

Yes, I’m probably 90% back! It was a struggle, but God was watching over me. Thanks for you well wishes!

roke1960

First of all, thanks to all of you who responded to my son’s update on my health. Your thoughts and prayers were a great inspiration. THANK YOU ALL. I am doing much better and I have been home since Friday, still taking it a day at a time, but getting better every day.

But boy, did I get to watch 3 nail-biters!!!! I know they have the division wrapped up and the merits of going all-out for an extra home game in the playoffs can be debated. but I just can’t stop watching. I’ve been a Sox fan for 50+ years and except for possibly the 1977, South Side Hit Men, I don’t remember a team where I can’t miss a game and am hanging on every pitch. It’s just crazy. This team has brought such joy to the South Side fandom- We all really want them to win the World Series, but this year has definitely restored the White Sox to their rightful place as Chicago’s baseball team. Leury’s homer may have been the most exciting hit all year. You really gotta love the guy. He just does what they ask him to do with a smile on his face, and joy in his heart. What an amazing 9-year run he’s had!! I literally jumped out of my seat when that ball went out.

Well, at least we get to exhale today. GO SOX!!!!!!!

GrinnellSteve

Welcome back. Those three games could have easily sent you into cardiac arrest, so consider yourself very lucky indeed!

Root Cause

I missed the update so sorry to hear you had issues and glad to hear you are on the mend. We need all the cheerleaders we can find. It is a good year to be a Sox fan!