White Sox 6, Athletics 3: Jimmy Lambert does the job

Before tonight’s game, manager Tony La Russa told the media he wanted to take it inning-by-inning with starting pitcher Jimmy Lambert. Filling in for Carlos Rodon, La Russa hoped for “two quality innings” from Lambert as the White Sox bullpen was well-rested. A quick start from the White Sox offense against Oakland starter James Kaprielian would help reduce the White Sox magic number.

The first inning was very promising. A leadoff single from Luis Robert followed by a double from Yoan Moncada added pressure on Kaprielian. After hitting Jose Abreu with a pitch, Kaprielian had the bases loaded with no outs facing Eloy Jimenez and Yasmani Grandal. Unfortunately for the Sox, they only mustered one run thanks to Grandal walking, but a missed opportunity to put up a crooked number.

That one-run lead didn’t last long. Josh Harrison doubled down the left-field line to greet Lambert. Deep flyouts from Starling Marte and Matt Olson, Harrison scored to tie the game. Lambert faced five batters in the first inning tossing 22 pitches.

While Abreu got hit in the knee in his first plate appearance, Jimenez joined him in a much different manner. During Andrew Vaughn’s second-inning at-bat, he fouled off a pitch that screamed into the White Sox dugout. The Oakland Coliseum is one of the few remaining dugouts without a protective railing. Vaughn’s liner hit Jimenez in the knee while he was sitting on the bench. Luckily, Jimenez was not seriously hurt and was able to stay in the game.

Oakland started the second inning against Lambert with a walk and single. Facing Yan Gomes, Lambert was able to stay in the strike zone and picked up his first strikeout on a high fastball. Elvis Andrus saw a similar pitch against Lambert, but he hit into the inning-ending 6-4-3 double play instead of striking out. Thirty-eight pitches in, and Lambert kept it tied.

White Sox had a two-out rally in the third inning. Grandal walked again, and impressively, reached third base on Gavin Sheets’ single to center field. Leury Garcia continued the night’s theme as he reached the painful way of getting hit by a pitch. Vaughn was next, but his horrid bad streak of producing with runners in scoring position and two outs continued. A harmless foul pop out to first base ended the threat, and Vaughn in 55 PA with RISP and two outs still only has two hits this season.

Kaprielian didn’t last long. White Sox hitters grinding out at-bats forced Kaprielian’s pitch count to 92 after four innings but only scored one run. Southpaw AJ Puk was the first reliever out of the Oakland bullpen, and he allowed back-to-back singles to Jimenez and Grandal. While a promising run-scoring situation, the splits were not in White Sox favor with Sheets batting. Against left-handed pitching, Sheets had been 0-for-13 with five strikeouts and no walks.

Had is the keyword because Puk hung a slider that Sheets lined into center field for a single. Jimenez didn’t have the best jump dealing with the sore knee, but that didn’t prevent third-base coach Joe McEwing from sending him home. Jimenez’s slide at home plate was just in time to be called safe, and Sheets’ RBI single gave the White Sox a 2-1 lead.

Cesar Hernandez had a tough start to the game. Yan Gomes made a great defensive play in Hernandez’s first at-bat to steal away an infield single. Second at-bat, Hernandez hit a deep fly that Mark Canha could run down before reaching the outfield wall. As the saying goes, the third time’s the charm for Hernandez. With two strikes, Hernandez waited back and singled to right field, plating two more runs. Athletics manager Bob Melvin saw enough from Puk after just 0.1 IP allowing 5 H 3 ER.

Meanwhile, Lambert was on cruise control. After a concerning start to the second inning, Lambert posted four consecutive scoreless innings giving more than La Russa imagined. In 70 pitches, Lambert threw 47 strikes allowing just one run on three hits and two walks while picking up two strikeouts. Even though Lambert generated just four whiffs, he got the job done.

White Sox’s offense continued to string together good at-bats. Moncada battled for nine pitches before hitting his second double of the night in the eighth inning. Abreu walked, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Oakland went to Jake Diekman with Brian Goodwin batting .107 versus left-handed pitching. On a full count, Goodwin singled to right field, driving in two more runs.

That Goodwin base knock came in handy. Ryan Burr was given the eighth inning to work with a five-run cushion but gave up two hits, which compounded Robert’s fielding error. La Russa pulled Burr out for Craig Kimbrel to face Starling Marte. Marte singled on a 0-1 pitch, and the White Sox lead was cut to 6-3.

A Save situation set the stage for Liam Hendriks making his return to Oakland. His first appearance at the Coliseum since he signed with the White Sox. Matt Chapman worked the count to his favor 3-1 after Hendriks kept missing high in the zone but only managed a fly out to right field. Mark Canha, on his first pitch, hit a fly ball down the right-field line. Abreu gave chase, which was impressive in its own right, getting hit in the knee earlier, and made a terrific over-the-shoulder sliding catch.

Hendriks wrapped up the evening, striking out Skye Bolt for his 33rd save of the season. With the victory and Cleveland’s loss to Minnesota, the White Sox magic number is now 15.

Game Notes:

  • Yoan Moncada and Leury Garica both had three-hit nights. 
  • Yasmani Grandal went 1-for-3 with two walks.
  • Andrew Vaughn’s homecoming didn’t go as planned with an 0-for-5 night. 

Record: 80-58 | Box Score | StatCast

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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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jhomeslice

Great win in a very unlikely manner. I did not have the over/under on runs Lambert would allow at 1.

But right now Vaughn is just brutal, stranding an endless number of baserunners it seems. I’m not sure he’s playable as a starter in the postseason if all are healthy, against RHP at least. Has an OPS of about .400 vs RHP since August 10, .900 vs LHP. He’s doing well for his first year overall don’t get me wrong, but there is clearly a case that Goodwin/Engel/Sheets are preferable vs RHP unless Vaughn gets his groove back soon. Hard to believe how well he was killing it against all pitching in June and July. He seems lost right now.

Last edited 11 months ago by jhomeslice
ParisSox

I think it’s fatigue. Give him an IL stint when Engel comes back?

mikeyb

Goodwin has to start in the playoffs vs. RHP. I’m fine giving Vaughn more at bats against righties the next week or two, but to close out the season, it has to be Goodwin.

John SF

If the infield is healthy, and Eloy DHs, the outfield fight for starting ABs against RHP will be
1. Sheets
2. Goodwin
3. Engel
4. Garcia
5. Hamilton
6. Mendick
7. Vaughn

Assuming Zavala or Collins is on the bench, that only leaves five spots for those 7.

Pretty easy to see that Mendick would stay down in that situation. But it’s hard not to imagine Goodwin is the other guy who gets left out.

I mean, the hypothetical “every position player is totally healthy in October” is not a likely one or worth being concerned about. But I guess my point is that if we sit Vaughn again RHP he’s more likely to get replaced with Garcia, Engel, or Hamilton.

jhomeslice

I hope Vaughn starts to hit RHP like he did in July first of all. But if he keeps going like this, they have better options. Goodwin at .875 vs RHP isn’t likely to get left out. Engel at .900+ isn’t likely sustainable, but he is still way better than what Vaughn has been doing.

Neither Goodwin or Sheets should start vs LHP either. So they have some pretty clear lefty/righty matchups that should dictate who plays. Engel played last night at Charlotte. I don’t know if that means he is a great bet to play in the playoffs, but they need him. Otherwise with Eloy/Robert/Vaughn for 3 of the OF/DH spots, they have nobody good against LHP for the 4th.

I hope the baseball gods are kinder to us than having Garcia or Hamilton in the lineup in the playoffs.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

I wish I had 100 percent certainty that TLR was aware of what all his players splits are against lefties and righties, and considered that important.

John SF

I wish I had 95% confidence that TLR knows by heart the handedness of all the players on the roster, and what positions they can play.

Also— I don’t see the Sox cutting Leury after all this time just to make room for Goodwin who would be our 5th best outfield defender at that point and also only our best outfield bat. Plus, we do actually need to have a backup infielder on the playoff roster.

Last edited 11 months ago by John SF
burning-phoneix

Big win for the Sox. We really needed that with the poor away record, the poor record against winning teams and the depleted rotation.

That being said, we took 3 out of 4 from the A’s last series. Why are the Sox turning it up against Oakland of all teams?

PopeDonnPall

What’s the magic number on games we have to suffer through Gordon Beckham?

Jason

Maybe, *maybe*, if he spent a few years honing his craft as color for UGA or Charlotte or Birmingham, he could become decent.

But man is he not good at this right now. Glad we aren’t stuck with a Marquee Sports fiasco, but between not sending the broadcast team on the road and being content with a far from ready for prime time guy like Beckham, NBC is showing Benetti and the fans how little they value the broadcast.

Lorenzo Barcelo

Is there any possibility Benetti leaves when his contract is up if they keep him at home for road games in the future? He’s definitely perturbed about the setup.

Greg Nix

I think it’s a league rule, not a team rule. Only one set of broadcasters is allowed to travel, so they’re alternating TV and radio. Could be wrong…

As Cirensica

He started off in a decent form. First games he teamed up with Benetti, I had no issues with Beckham, but like with Mendick, prolonged exposure brought out his lack of skill. Same as with his baseball career. Consistent.

soxfan

Should we send the Twins a fruit basket or ham or something? They’re doing a lot of work for us down the stretch.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

Maybe a ham, that’s past its expiration date. Because it’s the Twins.

Brett R. Bobysud

Do we think the Sox can go 8-6 over their next 14 games?

That should put them in a real good position to clinch the division during or even before the Cleveland series, unless Cleveland goes on a winning run.

burning-phoneix

I think its definitely possible. Six of those games are against the Rangers and the Tigers, If we play well enough that’s abut 4 wins right there. I also think we can do better than the 1-4 vs the Angels in the opening series now that Mike Fish and Rendon are out.

John SF

This was the very first Sox Win that I have been able to see in person in all of my adult life!

The Sox were 0-10 in my previous games, scattered across multiple road stadiums and 5+ years.

Now that I’m in the good graces of the baseball Gods, it’s safe to bet on the Sox sweeping— as I will be attending both of the follow up games @ the Coliseum this week.

Things I noticed in the park that weren’t as clear on the broadcast:

—Lambert was getting hit *hard*. You could really hear it in the bats. Most of those warning track outs sounded dangerously close to the sound the ball usually makes coming off Robert’s bat.

–Burr did not look happy, even before he went into the game I wonder if TLR didn’t give him quite enough time to warm up or enough heads-up that he might be pitching? Maybe he’s sore?

—Hamilton is a beautiful man

—Garcia looked extremely loose in the batter’s box and 100% locked in at the plate. He made some good defensive plays and obviously his bat was hot, but also he was just oozing confidence & charisma in a way I’ve never seen him before.

asinwreck

As someone who has sat through some frustrating Sox losses at the Coliseum (including one where Bobby Thigpen walked home the winning run), I am glad you were able to see a victory in that building.

jhomeslice

I had a similar impact when I was living in southern California. The first 4 games I went to see Sox/Angels at various times, the Angels batted around in an inning. In the 5th one I was aware of that and the Halos sent 8 guys to the plate, barely missing.

One of the games they lost 19-0. I was wearing a Sox hat, and Angel fans were actually nice to me out of pity!

I don’t know what the odds of that are for either of us, but glad they turned the corner for you.

Last edited 11 months ago by jhomeslice
vanillablue

I was at the game last night too – one of the allegedly 4,556 in attendance (there is no way it was that many). Athletics Nation had a good article recently on how the A’s have screwed up their marketing and actively discouraged even their shrinking base of loyal fans from going to games. While the lack of crowds certainly improved the fan experience to some extent – each of us practically had a row to ourselves, we got in and out quickly, and my kid caught a foul ball – it left the feeling that the A’s aren’t even trying.

Some other observations:

  • we could see into the White Sox dugout, and it really seemed like the team is having a lot of fun. Brian Goodwin was dancing to the music between innings, everyone high-fived Lambert after getting the DP to end the 2nd, lots of other moments that seemed like they have great team chemistry.
  • Burr did not have enough time to warm up – it looked like TLR had Kimbrel ready, then got Burr up only after Diekman came in to face Goodwin.
  • I have seen the Sox win in person several times, but I have never seen Jose Abreu get a hit. He is now 0-for-22 in the 7 times I’ve seen him play.
  • Grandal is the most important player in the lineup. He saw 18 pitches in his two PA’s against Kaprelian. Keeping him healthy for the playoffs will be really important – hopefully he can get some rest in the last couple of weeks.