White Sox 4, Astros 2: Better late than never

It only took eight pitches for Houston to demonstrate their offensive prowess and the White Sox their defensive shortfalls.

It took until the eighth inning for the White Sox offense to come alive. Living up to the saying “Better late than never,” a four-run outburst late gave the White Sox a comeback win over the Astros.

Tonight’s game started with Josh Harrison committing an error after Mauricio Dubon’s leadoff single to put Johnny Cueto in a jam. Yordan Alvarez’s deep drive stayed in the park for a sacrifice fly, and Alex Bergman followed it up with an RBI double. Very quickly, the White Sox were down 2-0.

AJ Pollock led off the White Sox first inning with a single, but the next base hit wouldn’t come again until Eloy Jimenez’s fourth-inning single. Jose Abreu followed up with another single, but the scoring threat was squashed when Yasmani Grandal grounded into a 3-6-1 double play.

After a turbulent first inning, Cueto found his groove retiring 11 out of 12 Astros hitters at one point to keep it a two-run game. He found himself in a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning after allowing singles to Dubon and Gurriel and then plunked Alvarez with a pitch.

Luckily, Cueto saw Bregman pop out in foul territory ending the threat. After five innings, Cueto was only at 65 pitches. Meanwhile, Jose Urquidy wasn’t far off at 70 pitches, only allowing harmless singles. One of those singles was wiped away when Harrison got thrown out attempting to steal second. Watching the play unfold, Harrison looked back to home plate, expecting Sheets to swing, suggesting a hit-and-run was on. It wasn’t, and either Harrison or Sheets misread the call.

White Sox had another scoring opportunity in the seventh inning. Abreu lined another single, and instead of hitting into a double play, Grandal got hit by a pitch. But Moncada flew out to left field, and Harrison popped out in the infield.

Entering the eighth inning, Cueto was still on the mound at 90 pitches. Manager Tony La Russa didn’t have anyone warming in the bullpen, so it wouldn’t be a quick hook. Lucky for La Russa, Cueto only needed nine pitches to sit down Alvarez, Bregman, and Tucker. Last out, Cueto posed on the mound after striking out Tucker.

Urquidy almost matched Cueto in innings pitched quickly, getting Sheets and Garcia out. When Pollock reached on infield single thanks to Bregman missing the barehand attempt, Astros manager Dusty Baker saw enough. With Vaughn batting, he called for Rafael Montero out of the bullpen.

On a 2-2 pitch, Vaughn got enough on a fly ball to slice down the right field line. Pollock slowed down, heading to second base thinking it was just a single before third base coach Joe McEwing waved him over. The two-out double set up Jimenez with runners in scoring position.

After swinging through two pitches, Jimenez did not miss on the third as he hit a rocket past Bregman for a two-run double. Finally, Cueto got run support thanks to the two-out rally.

Eventually, the Astros decided to walk Abreu to face Grandal intentionally. While that was the smart play, Montero’s struggles continued as he walked Grandal, loading the bases for Moncada. 

It only took one pitch for Moncada to change the outcome. Hitting a laser single to center field scored two more runs giving the White Sox a 4-2 lead. The 18,000 fans sounded like 38,000 as Guaranteed Rate Field rocked in celebration. 

Now managing with a lead, La Russa had Liam Hendriks replace Cueto. The veteran did his job throwing a gem: 8 IP 6 H 2 R 1 ER 1 BB 3 K. 

With one out, Hendriks walked Trey Mancini, and Baker went to his bench calling for Jose Altuve to pinch hit. In last year’s ALDS Game 4, Altuve crushed a home run off Hendriks, but all he could muster tonight was a fly out to right field. 

Baker went back to the bench calling for Christian Vazquez to pinch hit, another of Houston’s mid-season acquisitions. Vazquez singled to right field, putting more pressure on Hendriks. White Sox closer didn’t buckle, as Hendriks would get Dubon to pop out to Abreu.

An improbable two-out rally in the eighth inning delivered one of this season’s best White Sox wins. A great start to a critical week of the season.  

Game Notes:

  • Cleveland split a doubleheader against Detroit and Minnesota beat Kansas City. Both the White Sox and Twins gain a half-game on the Guardians in the AL Central standings.
  • Eloy Jimenez, AJ Pollock, and Jose Abreu all had two hits. 
  • Liam Hendriks now has 26 saves tying him with Jordan Romano of the Blue Jays, and one save behind Emmanuel Clase.

Record: 60-56 | Box Score | StatCast

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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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Right Size Wrong Shape

See, he’s not so stubborn.

Jim Margalus

PLOT TWIST:

As Cirensica

This is awesome!!

calcetinesblancos

What if God the manager was one of us?

Right Size Wrong Shape

My first thought was, I wonder if that’s charlie.

calcetinesblancos

Hopefully the power doesn’t go to his head.

soxygen

Nice work, Charlie.

We’re all just trying to will this team to victory, and he’s actually out there yelling directions at the manager. I love it.

andyfaust

This will come up again in my next OPP submission. Charlie for manager. I doubt I’ll be the only one. Chris Woodward is also available apparently, among a few others with some experience. But I’d rather have ONE OF US!.

soxfan

Reinforces my point that a real-time online polling system could effectively replace La Russa for in-game decisions.

Last edited 1 month ago by soxfan
calcetinesblancos

Yeah if people can figure out those convoluted sox math puzzles in a nanosecond, this totally doable.

palkadance

All Pollock does from that leadoff position is hit. If we had a manager who recognized his job is to put guys in position to succeed, he’s have put AJ there and left him there long ago. TA can hit from anywhere. It’s not like he’s special to that role. But evidently it unlocks Pollock.

metasox

Pollock has hit well in every spot in the order throughout his career.

upnorthsox

AJ has more AB’s at 1 than any other position so obviously Tony recognizes it. And TA is an excellent leadoff man. I swear you guys like to bitch sometimes just to bitch.

itaita

From what we’ve seen from the team this year the Sox had no chance to win and perhaps it was so low that it circled around to a winning formula.

Joliet Orange Sox

Catcher Max Stassi has just had a really really terrible 5 minutes defensively in the Mariners-Angels game.

upnorthsox

The announcer on that was wrong, the guy scored the run because there was no one backing up the catcher in the rundown. At that point the only play was to 3rd. A bad play for sure but the blame should go where it belongs.

GoGoSoxFan

The correct play was for the catcher to hold the ball and run the runner all the way back to third and tag him out.Then tag the runner on third and let the umpires figure it out.

phillyd

There was no other runner on third though. The other had just rounded second when he threw the ball.

upnorthsox

There was no runner on 3rd yet, the catcher played it correctly it’s the guys backing him up that were at fault. That’s usually the pitcher or sometimes the 1B.

As Cirensica

Angels being a terrible baseball team is now much more clear

tommytwonines

https://www.espn.com/mlb/standings

Hold on now! According to ESPN, the 51-65 Angels have a 62.8% chance of making the playoffs.

Some interesting odds for some other teams, too.

phillyd

The Orioles having the lowest playoff odds in the AL despite already having more wins than the A’s and maybe the Tigers will end the season with is funny.

As Cirensica

I said yesterday I believed that the ESPN prediction algorithm is broken. Now I am 100% sure

tommytwonines

ESPN fixed it – Sox Machine readers, apparently.

soxygen

That sequence is unbelievable. The Angels exist to remind Sox fans that we aren’t alone.

Joliet Orange Sox

It’s nice when the Sox game goes well enough that we can enjoy other teams finding innovative ways to lose.

Last edited 1 month ago by Joliet Orange Sox
asinwreck

Where would this team be without Johnny Cueto?

shaggy65

Hats off to Rick Hahn for wisely sitting out the starting pitcher market during the offseason, knowing that a borderline ace would be available on a minor league deal in April. To a lesser observer, it might look like a total dufus had his poorly assembled team completely bailed out by blind luck.

upnorthsox

It was the head fake with the Velasquez signing that sealed the deal. That was truly some 4D chess moves.

metasox

Big assist to Lynn for that

ForsterFTOG

Third place.

soxygen

The last 3 innings were what we have all have been hoping for since the Twins series – something that felt like “yeah, my team can hang with the big boys.”

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
upnorthsox

Hopefully it’ll carry into tonight and then 2 becomes 3 and…….

soxfan

I don’t know why I found this interesting, but I noticed today that only three White Sox are qualifying for post-season awards: Abreu, Vaughn, and Cease. Checked other contenders and the last couple of years for the Sox and it seems like competitive teams typically have 6-8 qualifying batsmen compared to our two this year. I don’t know if that’s a sign of resilience (“look at what they’ve done with all the injuries”), mismanagement (“why aren’t Pollock or Harrison playing more” – even though I know the answer to that one), or a sign of general offensive ineptitude (“more runs equals more PAs”), but I’ll take it as a sign of unrealized potential.

upnorthsox

Injuries, they are the only 2 with regular playing time to stay healthy all year.
Cueto should get some CYA love though.

Last edited 1 month ago by upnorthsox
texag10

Sounds like TLR needs to play Leury more.

Patrick Nolan

Charlie, show yourself, you magnificent hero, you.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I have a feeling that charlie might be a little busy today. I’ve already heard his voice on both sports radio stations in town this morning.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I should clarify, I’ve just heard the clip. I wonder if some industrious producer will try to get him on the air today, though.

soxygen

Also, IIRC the Self Appointed Defenders of Yoan Moncada were a little rude to him here the other day.

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
calcetinesblancos

Seemingly justified after last night lol.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I stand by my comments.

lifelongjd

Nice win for sure, but the way the announcers and Chuck/Beckham reacted was borderline embarrassing. This was supposed to be a team that competed for a WS. This is how they should be playing every damn game.

soxfan

Who called the fun police?

lifelongjd

Fun police? It was a great game and an amazing comeback. Just saying the way they played last night shouldn’t kick off such a sappy reaction about “turning point”.

dwjm3

A few posters on here have lost the plot. Holding the organization to account doesn’t mean being cranky about every little thing they do.

soxygen

Fortunately, the Fun Police Police are here to save the day! They are here to protect and serve the smarty pants like us who get to decide who gets to have fun, what kind of fun can be had, when it can be had, and to what extent!

Nothing personal to you dwjm3 or soxfan…but there is something so silly about objecting to a fellow Sox fan expressing residual frustration or disappointment about a team that has frustrated and disappointed all of us enough to last a lifetime.

A lot of us come here to vent. Venting is OK. There actually is no higher purpose here. It’s just a place where people come to say what they want or need to say about the Sox. Why half of the people on this site feel like they always need to be the arbiters of who can post what instead of just letting it go is beyond me.

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
dwjm3

A little venting from time to time is fine. I have engaged in it myself.

I have noticed a couple posters who only show up after a loss. They operate as if they get street cred on here by being as doom and gloom as possible.

I fully understand people’s frustration with the ineptitude of the organization. Jerry hasn’t delivered much to be excited about over the years. I do think it is ok for Chuck to be excited after a decent win. Furthermore, we should probably keep in mind he has to watch every game. We can skip a few games when the team becomes brutal to watch. He has to sit through all of it.

Last edited 1 month ago by dwjm3
soxygen

I have noticed the same thing, and of course there are folks who sound a little too dour from time to time. That said, far more annoying to me are the people who log in after a win to “I told you so” the people they see as “the haterz.”

Just a personal Sox Machine anecdote, I was once making fun of Leury Garcia’s horrible at bats throughout a game. But 3 hours after he hit like a 70 mph EV ball through a drawn in infield in the 9th inning with an expected batting average of like .100 and someone felt like they needed to log into the game thread (of a long since over game) and post some snarky BS directed at me because of it. That really taught me a lesson. Talk about losing the plot!!!

But hey, I guess it gives people an opportunity to feel intellectually or morally superior for a few minutes, so whatever!

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
texag10

This is a bit rich coming from the leader of the “Moncada is Garbage” bandwagon

soxygen

I’m just on the bandwagon of “express your frustration freely and respectfully.” You clearly don’t share that particular frustration.

Please tell us all about how good Moncada is. Using numbers! I promise I’ll treat your argument respectfully.

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
texag10

I mean, this comment right here kinda proves my point. No one on here has said that Moncada has been good this year. But you, and others, have been trying to revise history and claim he’s only ever been good in one season which is a bald faced lie. The constant hammering of your one talking point in every single thread, in many instances where no one even brought him up, is tiring to say the least. You’re not adding anything new to the discussion. You’re shitting on a player for your own enjoyment.

soxygen

I just want to point out that you came here for this. As you did yesterday. You want to have this argument about how/whether/when other people can express frustration with Yoan Moncada.

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
Qubort

They probably feel the need to be arbiters for the same reason you feel the need to sarcastically ridicule them.

soxygen

Thanks! This was really helpful input.

Glad the Fun Police Police Police could join us.

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
soxfan

Venting about people that are actually underperforming is one thing – I’ve engaged in it myself, calling out Hahn, La Russa, Moncada, Grandal and others – but venting because the on-air crew is enjoying a big win that might be a turning point in the season is just hating for the sake of hating.

I don’t remember who it was – I wanna say Joliet or GrinnellSteve or maybe Paris Sox – but someone had a lengthy dissertation a couple weeks ago on how rooting against the team doing well is nonsensical. If you’re going to be brought down by the bad times, then you might as well allow yourself to enjoy the good.

And – about this let me be clear – last night was good times.

soxygen

Sounds like you have identified a bright line between what is acceptable for all of us to say following a win and what is not.

HallofFrank

Fire Tony, Hire Charlie.

soxygen

Now I am wondering if Charlie is the guy who yelled “but Tony…there were two strikes!”

calcetinesblancos

I like how they yanked Urquidy and things immediately went to shit. I was critical of Yoan earlier in the game for not taking more pitches when I thought it made sense, but that was smart of him to recognize the very good chance that the best pitch to hit was going to be the first pitch given the situation. Also, without his glove that came could have looked very different.

Joist

In the postgame interview, Yoan said he was looking fastball all the way, which I found really interesting given that Yaz, another switch hitter, had just walked on six straight changeups.

calcetinesblancos

Solid strategy since they were probably looking to get ahead in the count to avoid walking in a run. I could see going up there with the bat on your shoulders if Montero had looked incapable of throwing a strike to the last few batters, but if you are going up there hoping to knock in a few runs you absolutely should look first pitch fastball.

Joist

Hard to argue with the results!

StockroomSnail

More! MOre! MORE! I say!