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If you want this game to be enjoyed by a mass audience, then we’re going to have to cut a bunch of it.
The White Sox led this one 4-1 entering the bottom of the eighth. They ended up winning by two runs in 10, an hour and 10 minutes later. How much of that 70 minutes is necessary?
Granted, it was cool to see Brian Goodwin launch his second go-ahead homer in the last inning of play over the last week. It’s also fun to see Gavin Sheets’ propensity for opposite-field singles come up in an RBI pinch-hitting situation, and a big two-out knock by Tim Anderson to put the Sox up four. But bloat tends to beget bloat, and so you feel like you have to have Garrett Crochet giving up his own two-run blast in the bottom of the 10th before landing the plane. I get the twist you’re going for, but we can cross that one out.
And if we put a big, red “x” through the eighth, then you can save all those 10th-inning stories for another time. Why did Craig Kimbrel need to give up a three-run lead? He hadn’t given up four hits in an appearance in more than 10 years (May 18, 2011, to be exact), so a three-run game-tying homer to Andrew Romine is already implausible enough. The single on his way out the door is overkill.
No, I think you just scratch that part, so you go from César Hernández hitting his first homer in a White Sox uniform to Liam Hendriks pitching a scoreless ninth, and the White Sox win 4-1. Hendriks gets the save, Lance Lynn gets the win, and everybody goes home a lot happier. Four hours and 27 minutes is a lot of attention to demand from an audience.
Now I like what you did with Lynn, grunting his way through six one-run innings in characteristic fashion. I also like that he came to the plate with the bases loaded twice and struck out both times. It’d be easy, crowd-pleasing work to have Lynn clear the bases once, but this isn’t a Matt Christopher book. The National League park presents natural adversity, so let’s use it.
It’s a lot more believable if you limit the White Sox offense to two runs for most of the game, because the crowd will buy into that based on everything they’ve come to learn. You have Andrew Vaughn knocking in a run with the third single over four batters to start the fourth, and that makes sense. Seby Zavala shooting an RBI single through the right side, we can keep that. You went overboard with the three homers last week, but it’s not like you want to keep torturing him, either, so the occasional modest single should be enough. Good job here.
I’m just not sure you want another seemingly invincible bullpen breaking down. You already had some complications with Michael Kopech letting Lynn’s runner score due in large part to walking the first batter he faced in the seventh. Some vulnerability adds depth to the story, but do you want to put your audience through that plot again? More appearances like Kimbrel’s, and they’re going to think you’re out of ideas.
Don’t get down on yourself. We’re keeping most of it, and no dramatic rewriting is necessary. Not at all. Just chop out the bottom of the eighth, refile it and we’re all good. See you tomorrow.
*Eloy Jiménez went 1-for-3 with a single and a strikeout before he was lifted for Goodwin after reaching third. Tony La Russa didn’t want him to have to sprint on a contact play, which ended up being required of Goodwin unsuccessfully. (Yoán Moncada committed a blunder by not advancing from second to third.)
*Adam Engel redeemed himself by reaching base four times from the second spot. He went 3-for-5 with a walk and two stolen bases.
*Hernández reached base three times from the eighth spot, although two were intentional walks in front of Lynn.
*Yoán Moncada snapped an 0-for-21 slump with a single through the right side that set up Sheets’ pinch-hit single in the 10th.