White Sox 5, Guardians 4: Could’ve been worse, almost was

Considering the White Sox led this one 3-0 entering the seventh inning in a game where Terry Francona wasn’t going to pull out all the stops, salvaging a split of today’s doubleheader shouldn’t have come as hard as it did.

Nevertheless, after Lance Lynn’s scoreless six innings were erased by another high-contact induced bullpen cave-in, the Sox had to come from behind in the eighth inning in order to come away with their first win of the second half.

That rally was a painstaking one. Andrew Vaughn doubled off with one out during Bryan Shaw’s second inning of work, followed by a José Abreu walk. Neither runner moved on Adam Engel’s flyout, but Yasmani Grandal was able to work a six-pitch walk to load the bases. Francona pulled Shaw in favor of Nick Sandlin, who got AJ Pollock to hit a tricky one-hopper toward third base.

Ernie Clement (playing where José Ramírez usually does) tried to make a sliding backhand stop, but he could neither field it cleanly or keep the ball in front of him. Instead, it deflected over and behind him, allowing both Vaughn and Abreu to score to put the Sox back in front.

Matt Foster pitched the ninth instead of Liam Hendriks, who only threw 16 pitches in Game 1 despite the failure. My guess is that it was partially a strategic decision. After watching Hendriks, José Ruíz and Reynaldo López get burned on high fastballs over the course of the preceding 17 innings, Foster came in and offered no such pitch to the bottom of the Cleveland lineup.

He made his own job tougher by walking Clement, which brought the top of the Cleveland order into play. Francona maintained the state by having Austin Hedges bunt Clement to second, followed by Myles Straw grounding out to third. Steven Kwan came to the plate as an appropriate final boss, and while he timed a second consecutive changeup well on a 2-2 count, he didn’t hit it high enough, and Josh Harrison snared it to preserve the victory.

Lynn’s victory wasn’t preserved, but he should’ve earned it. He pitched six easy innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out six. All three of the hits were allowed with two outs, and Lynn prevented them from advancing further.

Were Lynn have an ordinary season, he would’ve been a natural choice to start the seventh. Considering he brought a 7.50 ERA into this game, calling it a high-quality start seemed appropriate.

It would’ve been nice to see the White Sox offense light up Konnor Pilkington, but they were able to capitalize on the demands of a doubleheader. Through four innings, he’d limited the White Sox a mere Yoán Moncada bases-loaded walk in the third. In a situation where all hands were on deck, he probably wouldn’t have been expected to face the White Sox a third time through. Francona tried to squeeze a fifth inning out of him, and it almost worked when he retired Harrison and Reese McGuire without incident. But he walked Tim Anderson to keep the door open, and Moncada stung a double to the right-center gap to make it a 2-0 game.

An inning later, Anthony Castro tried to get ahead of Eloy Jiménez with a first pitch slider, but he hung it, and Jiménez hurt it for a solo shot and the aforementioned 3-0 lead.

Bullet points:

*The White Sox yielded two triples in the seventh inning toward Andrew Vaughn in right, including a Myles Straw flare that Vaughn couldn’t field cleanly along the side wall. It was scored a triple, but it looks like Clement would’ve been held if Vaughn had no issues.

*The Sox walked more than they struck out, and the free pass was instrumental in three of their four scoring innings. Anderson walked twice at the top of the order.

Record: 47-48 | 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’m glad it worked out, but Foster and his 5 ERA being used over both Liam and Graveman is pretty damn questionable. Does he even want them to win? I honestly wonder sometimes. Foster pitched Friday and gave up a couple runs. Just because it worked doesn’t make it a good decision. If it didn’t work, Tony would have looked like a complete ass.

a-t

Hendriks and Graveman pitched in game 1? And Hendriks 1) got lit up and 2) is not so healthy as do stuff like pitch both games of doubleheaders, which is exceeding rare for RPs to do anyways these days? That’s also why the Sox got a chance to come back with a second inning of Shaw; Clase and Stephan pitched in the first game.

Last edited 24 days ago by a-t
Augusto Barojas

Graveman threw only 11 pitches in the first game after a week off. His ERA is less than half what Foster’s is, he is just massively better. If Liam is being treated differently due to recent injury that’s one thing. But I don’t buy that Graveman could not go again after only 11 pitches and a week off.

A win is a win, and yet they’ve still lost 2 of 3 and have to beat Bieber tomorrow just to get a split. They still seem to fit the label “mired in mediocrity” way more often than not.

itaita

How about the team get a base hit off Konnor Pilkington with the bases loaded and it wouldn’t be a save situation. There are plenty of things to bitch at TLR about but i dont think throwing Foster out there to face the bottom of a Cleveland surrender lineup is that bad.

Augusto Barojas

Foster has an ERA of 5. Statistically that means he gives up slightly more than a run every 2 innings. Which means if he is in that situation with a 1 run lead, they keep the lead less than half the time, statistically.

I’m not sure TLR did not try to sabotage the game and it failed. His moves don’t make any damn sense so often that you have to wonder. Graveman being gassed after 11 pitches right after a week off? I call bullshit on that.

Last edited 23 days ago by Augusto Barojas
gibby32

Letting Foster pitch the ninth is ridiculous, but less ridiculous that putting Ruiz into a high leverage situation. With the three batter rule, bringing Ruiz into a 3-0 critical game is managerial malpractice. I don’t mind Ruiz as the eighth bullpen guy to pitch in games with a 5 or more run lead, in favor of either side. But he is awful in any other situation. I thought that I was inured to LaRussa nonsense, but two days into the post-all star break, I was livid as soon as I saw the lineup for game 1, and the bullpen management for game 2. The guy is nothing but awful.

soxygen

It was a tough day for managing a bullpen – tied late in game 1 of a doubleheader, trailing late in the nightcap. Maybe one of those two late inning guys could have pitched in both games, but absent that the options would have been to use Kelly and Foster late in game 1 and then have Graveman and Hendriks in game 2. That could have led to a different set of complaints and game outcomes, but maybe we’d have ended up with a split anyway. I don’t cut Tony a lot of slack generally, but I don’t know that there really was a right or wrong answer here.

Last edited 23 days ago by soxygen
gibby32

Kelly has a history of high performance and his recent 3 outings have been flawless. Foster is the opposite. One of the problems is that LaRussa almost always uses both Graveman and Hendriks, which then, in his mind, means that both are unavailable the next game. He often adds Lopez into the equation for the seventh also. I really like to avoid getting personal with these guys, but he is a basebal moron.

soxygen

Like you, I don’t really understand why LaRussa has a “winning bullpen” and a “losing bullpen.” One of the big advantages of having multiple highly paid late inning guys would be having the flexibility to use one of them in winnable games in which the team is tied or losing late. But apparently that’s not how Hall of Famer baseball people see it.

dongutteridge

I would like to make one request of my favorite baseball team for next season.

Please play actual outfielders in the outfield. Thank you.

vince

Hahn will field a DH at every position next season, and every arm will be a reliever. First $100m bullpen.

hitlesswonder

Honestly, I think Vaughn in LF next to an elite CF is a defensible choice to make. In RF, clearly not. And it turns out Pollock isn’t acceptable there defensively either.

It would really be great if AJ were to hit insanely well the rest of season and make himself tradeable for next season.

tommytwonines

If Pollock plays insanely well the rest of the way, he’ll decline his player option and become a free agent.

hitlesswonder

That would be fine too – having $10M locked up in a LF when they already have Eloy and Vaughn would be problematic.

tommytwonines

There’s no “too.” He plays insanely well, he’s a free agent, not trade bait.

soxygen

The Sox don’t like to pay for OF defense, as we were famously reminded when George Springer was a free agent.

Excerpt from MLBTR Dec 2020:

“Passan suggests that the ChiSox aren’t keen on paying “center-field prices for a corner outfielder.”

“That’s perhaps an overly simplistic means of describing the situation, given that there are plenty of highly paid corner outfielders — some whose current contracts top whatever Springer will eventually command in free agency (e.g. Bryce Harper). However, it’s also fair to say that a considerable portion of Springer’s value is tied to the fact that he is not only a vastly above-average hitter but an above-average defender at a premium position. By all indications he’d be a strong defender in right field as well, but it seems his asking price and the Sox’ valuation of a corner outfielder — even an extremely well-rounded one — don’t align.”

Last edited 23 days ago by soxygen
lifelongjd

I am very critical of this team, but that was a gutsy win in a do or die situation. I will not to even begin to consider this will lead to some momentum or better all around play, but this was huge

LamarHoyt_oncrack

The word “momentum” will never have any meaning until they replace this turd manager.

soxygen

Big win, undoubtedly. I have some “do or die” fatigue already, and while I will keep watching and rooting for our Sox, I concur with your sentiment that it is difficult to justify feeling hopeful.

Last edited 23 days ago by soxygen
Nellie Fox

Foster over the million dollar closer, yes I get that. Garcia to pitch today because cease is stuck in traffic, yes I get that too.

hitlesswonder

Leury is just a ballplayer. You can play him anywhere.

Augusto Barojas

Calling Leury “just a ballplayer”, that’s blasphemy!