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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.
*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.