White Sox 3, Red Sox 1: Jake Burger’s blast holds up

From Lucas Giolito’s first inning to Liam Hendriks’ last pitch, little about tonight came easy for the White Sox.

Somehow, despite seven hits and seven walks allowed by five White Sox pitchers — one of whom left the game with an injury — only one Boston run crossed the plate. The grueling effort was worth it, because while the White Sox offense only had four at-bats with runners in scoring position, Jake Burger’s no-doubt blast off Rich Hill in the fifth inning provided all the runs they needed.

The White Sox’s difficulty getting the third out throughout the evening cast doubt during the game. Giolito retired the first two batters of the game, then allowed three straight Red Sox to reach for another early Boston lead.

In the seventh, Aaron Bummer got two routine groundouts from the first two hitters he faced before Rafael Devers thwarted him with a flared single. In came Kendall Graveman, who allowed an inside-out single to J.D. Martinez and a four-pitch walk to Xander Bogaerts before Alex Verdugo mercifully grounded out.

In the eighth, Joe Kelly opened the inning with a pair of strikeouts, but after using a tricky hesitation delivery on strike three to Franchy Cordero, he grabbed his left hamstring and headed toward the dugout. Liam Hendriks finished that inning, but stranded two walks before Andrew Vaughn caught Bogaerts’ routine fly to right, right as Josh Harrison pulled up to avoid a collision.

Imagine if Giolito hadn’t retired the last seven batters he faced on 25 pitches to get the game through six.

On the other side, Rich Hill worked his way through the first four innings on just 43 pitches before José Abreu finally canceled the postgame show with a double inside the right-field line on an 87.6 mph fastball. AJ Pollock followed with a routine bouncer to third, but Devers is prone to random defensive malfunctions, and here he fired high to Cordero at first base, and Pollock ran underneath him to reach.

Up came Jake Burger, and Hill tried to baffle him with BS. It almost worked. Burger took a 71-mph curveball for strike one, then swung through a 69-mph curve for strike two. Hill then slowed it down another two ticks, but Burger picked up the pattern. He treated it like the eephus pitch it was for the White Sox’s second-longest homer of the year and a 3-1 lead.

The White Sox didn’t pose much of a threat in other innings as they only had three other at-bats with runners in scoring position and stranded only five. Alex Cora got by with using just two pitchers, as Tanner Houck relieved Hill and worked the final three innings on Boston’s side. For one night, that was still good enough to get the White Sox back over .500.

Bullet points:

*The White Sox played strong defense, including a diving catch by Vaughn in right that ended the sixth, a nice ranging play by Tim Anderson to his left that ended the eighth, and a clutch sliding stab and throw by Yoán Moncada at third that kept the leadoff man off base in the ninth.

*Abreu reached three times on the double and two walks. Reese McGuire was the only other member of the lineup to reach twice, on a single and a walk.

*Rain delayed the start of this game by 30 minutes.

Record: 22-21 | 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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chambers.kevin

Literally logged in when Burger bashed his homer. Great game to watch. My problem is you don’t win in April, but you can lose in April. Something needs to be done to wake this club up.

Willardmarshall

Somebody wants off the Charlotte shuttle….

knoxfire30

With the way Harrison and Garcia cant hit, is the drop off of Burger defensively at 2nd going to outweigh the net gain offensively? Use the shift, protect him as much as possible, and sub him out in games we are winning in the 8th or 9th…. but lets get the bat in the lineup.

HallofFrank

I was a proponent of this earlier this season. But Burger had cooled and done almost all his damage vs. LHP. His wRC+ vs. RHP is 68—that’s notably lower than Harrison (87), even. It looks like Burger will get some run with Robert out, which I welcome. Maybe he can, a la 2021 Sheets, capture something after the AAA stint. But I think he’s got to show some ability to hit RHP if they are going to DFA Harrison. If I had to pick now, I think—as much as it pains me to say it—I’d rather bet on the Harrison/Leury duo’s previous success and see if they can turn it around.

jhomeslice

Harrison has done even worse with the Sox than with the A’s. The past 80 games he has been completely awful. I can’t make a case for Burger playing 2b since the Sox are already a league worst defensive team, but Garcia/Harrision are not major league level starting 2b (as everybody but Hahn knew coming into this year), and are part of why this offense stinks. Burger only played 1 game at 2b at AAA, you would think he would get more looks than that if they were thinking about him at 2b for the Sox.

Their only options are Yolbert or a trade. They blew it the past two offseasons not addressing their needs (esp vs RHP), and are not going to escape paying a heavy price for that.

Last edited 1 month ago by jhomeslice
HallofFrank

Sure, you don’t have to convince me that Harrison has been bad. But I think Harrison deserves at least a couple more weeks to see if he can right the ship, for three reasons:

(1) He’s got enough of a track record of being decent that suggests that this is more of an outlier than who he is.

(2) The batted ball data suggests he’s gotten unlucky. His BABIP is .216. It was lower in ’19, but other than that his previous BABIP low was .253 (2013). His EV, Barrel %, and Hard Hit % are the highest of his career.

(3) Unless there’s some 2B on the trade market I don’t know about, none of the other options are obviously better options. He hits RHP better than Burger and Leury. And Yolbert is promising, but he’s also cooled off a bit. He’s got a .742 OPS (106 wRC+) in May. Which is good, but it’s not “oh he’ll definitely hit in Chicago” good.

So, I say give him 2-3 more weeks. If we get more of the same, I’d welcome a shake up.

Augusto Barojas

It’s just disheartening. This team is supposed to be competing for a title with league worst hitters at multiple positions (have to include catcher with Reese getting 1/2 the starts). They’ve scored 3 or less in 25 of their 43 games.

Harrison’s OPS is below .550. He is mediocre/bad at best, even if he improves a bit. Giving him more time isn’t the answer to their 2b issues, although I am sure he will get at bats in the meantime just like Leury. And we will see more of the same results.

soxygen

I really don’t understand why McGuire is getting so much playing time. Especially with multiple off days this week. Even in the games Yas has caught he has been pulled out from behind the dish late. I guess he’s hurt?!? But I haven’t heard anything that clearly explains why Reese McGuire is our starting backstop.

Grandal is our highest paid position player. He hardly plays catcher, doesn’t hit well enough to justify DH’ing him, gets pulled for a defensive replacement late in games…and the team didn’t approach this off-season as though Yas would be the DH. Instead they held onto Eloy, Vaughn, Sheets, and Abreu and added Pollock to the mix for good measure. Ugh.

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
jhomeslice

Grandal is the highest free agent signing of the whole rebuild. As good as he was at times last year, overall he is hurt often enough that he doesn’t really qualify as an every day player or full time catcher anymore.

They need position player upgrades esp guys who can hit RHP, and are going to squander their whole window if they don’t accept that and address it this offseason.

Qubort

Yas has played in 38 of 43 games this year and 46 of 60 in 2020. Besides the knee issue last year, not sure how much more everyday you expect him to be.

soxygen

The question is why has McGuire played 25 of 43 games. And to be clear, Grandal has only played 24 games behind the dish and in the last week alone has been relieved by McGuire multiple times in the late innings. Fangraphs had both catchers at 192 innings coming into tonight’s action, so they are splitting the position.

I’m not arguing that Grandal isn’t playing, but he’s actually not playing catcher as much as you’d expect from someone who is getting paid more than any position player on the team while also producing negative offensive value.

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
HallofFrank

You say Harrison isn’t the answer, but what is the answer?

Leury has been worse than Harrison. Burger can’t hit RHP and isn’t a 2B. Yolbert has seen promising developments, but he’s yet to play a month’s worth of games at AAA and to (relative to Charlotte) only decent or even lackluster results (.771 OPS).

Trust me: I’d love to see someone other than Harrison. But only if I were confident that it was an upgrade. Unless there’s a 2B floating around on the trade market I don’t know about, I think he’s as good of an answer as any right now.

jhomeslice

Yolbert has cooled, you are right. But even cold he might do better than Harrison. That’s a pretty low bar to exceed. They almost have to try something else at some point.

soxygen

Agreed. Also, if we’re going to get crappy production from the keystone, I’d rather be getting it from one of the several second base prospects we have in the minors than from the keystone cops we have there now.

Yolbert appears to be the most ready for the show out of that group. If he struggles, at least he will have gotten some experience/exposure, we will have seen some of what he can do, and other guys deserving of promotion can move up the ladder.

jhomeslice

I could not agree more. I’d rather watch Yolbert struggle (and get experience as you said) than someone who won’t be with the team after this season, if not sooner. I highly doubt he would be worse than Harrison, he would probably be about the same, worst case.

Last edited 1 month ago by jhomeslice
HallofFrank

I’d be more inclined to agree if I thought there was no chance Harrison could turn it around. But as we saw even last season, he can really run hot and cold. Like I’ve made clear: I’m not thrilled about continuing to run him out there. But I think he’s the best of a lot of garbage options at the moment.

As for Yolbert’s development, you could argue the opposite: he’s only played 23 games in Charlotte, so calling him up now could hinder his development. I don’t really buy that, but I also don’t buy that bringing him up is obviously good for his development, either.

HallofFrank

He might do better than Harrison, sure. But Harrison might turn it around, too. Remember: bringing up Yolbert almost certainly means a Harrison DFA. I’d be fine with that if I thought Yolbert were the clear better option. But I don’t think that. So in the meantime, I’d rather keep some options around and let someone earn it. We’ve seen Harrison run super hot and cold. So maybe he gets hot. I’m not holding my breath. But it wouldn’t shock me.

jhomeslice

A win is a win but this team continues to not hit enough for any sustained success. They’re not scoring much more than 3 runs a game, and as good as their rotation may be on paper, they are not going to win a ton of games if they don’t score more than that.

calcetinesblancos

That play by Moncada was slick.

jhomeslice

I figured the Astros were a good bet to get significantly worse losing Correa. Jeremy Pena has a 2.4 WAR, highest among mlb SS’s, hitting .290 with 7 homers, .850 OPS.

Pena was a 3rd round pick in 2018. How come nobody the Sox draft past the first round ever does anything to get excited about, and the Astros seem to get good (or great) position players out of nowhere?

Augusto Barojas

Kelly to 15 day DL. Dude has been on the DL like 3/4 of the season. Great signing, exactly what this team needed was an injured reliever.