White Sox 8, Rangers 2: Satisfying game, unsatisfying split

The saying is that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. The White Sox seem to have taken that to heart, except the impact of a strong finish is reduced when it merely addresses the deficit the start created.

Regardless, the White Sox were able to leave Globe Life Field with a split, and with a sorely needed convincing offensive performance against a pedestrian righty.

Spencer Howard came into this game with a 6.82 ERA thanks in large part to 11 homers over 34⅓ innings, and now it’s up to 7.41 and 12 homers over 37⅔ innings. The White Sox pestered him with singles early, then started hitting the ball harder upon their second and third looks.

Lucas Giolito almost ran into Michael Kopech’s third-inning problems from Saturday, but a baserunning blunder by Corey Seager gave him an extra life, and he took advantage of it by pitching well enough to win.

The White Sox’s offense was feast-or-famine when looking at the box score. Five White Sox hitters had multi-hit games, including three-hit days for AJ Pollock, José Abreu, Andrew Vaughn and Leury García. Three White Sox hitters went hitless, although Seby Zavala was the only one who duffed it (0-for-5 with four strikeouts).

But when you have that many guys making quality contact, it’s basically impossible to not sequence it successfully. Sure enough, the 8-9-1-2-3-4-5 part of the lineup went 15-for-33, and that’ll win most games, even though the “9” was Zavala’s dud.

The big games were plentiful:

*AJ Pollock went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles from the leadoff spot in place of the suspended Tim Anderson. All three hits were line drives with exit velocities above 103 mph.

*Andrew Vaughn contributed the long ball off Howard, a picturesque two-run shot over the faraway wall in left center to give the White Sox a 3-0 lead in the second. He also posted two other singles.

*Leury García was an oasis of production at the bottom of the order, coming up with three hits (including a double) and scoring twice.

*Joe McEwing succeeded on two aggressive sends, getting Luis Robert home from second despite a sluggish read on an Eloy Jiménez single, then sending García from second on an E5 throwing error that caromed into right-field foul territory.

You know it’s good when José Abreu only merits an honorable mention for his three singles, which raised his average to .300.

On the pitching side, Lucas Giolito lowered his ERA below 5 (4.91) with five innings of one-run ball, but he didn’t have it easy. He didn’t record a single 1-2-3 inning, and had the White Sox not staked him to a 6-1 lead, he might not have been a great candidate to start the fifth, what with 94 pitches on his tab and facing the Texas lineup for a third time.

The third inning was especially hairy. He threw 36 pitches to seven batters, but it only resulted in one run, when Nathaniel Lowe dropped a single into right field that put runners on the corners with one out.

Adolis Garcia followed with a smoked liner to right, and AJ Pollock was able to keep it from touching turf with a good read and grab. Seager should have scored easily on the play, but he drifted toward home instead of tagging up, and while Pollock’s throw home wasn’t on the mark, it was a deterrent for Seager’s late effort at making amends.

That kept the score 3-1, and while Giolito jeopardized it by walking Jonah Heim to load the bases, he got Meibrys Viloria to ground out to second to end the game’s last great threat. The Rangers finally scored that second run in the seventh inning in the form of a gargantuan 452-foot homer by Lowe off Jake Diekman, but that only made it a six-run game.

Bullet points:

*Yoán Moncada had one of the hitless games to drag his average below .200, but at least he contributed a fine sliding stop to cut down the lead runner, as well as a bases-loaded walk.

*Vaughn played first and overstepped his bounds by trying to stop a grounder that was an easier play for Josh Harrison, only to knock it down without being able to recover it.

*Pollock was cut down at third by Seager with an ill-advised decision on a grounder in front of him, but it didn’t alter the outcome.

*The Twins lost in controversial fashion while the Guardians beat the Astros 1-0, so one game separates first and second place, and second and third place.

Record: 55-53 | Box score | Statcast

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Jim Margalus
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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peanutsNcrackerjack

They looked pretty good today with a stress-free victory. Not gonna rag on Moncada, but I’d like to see him sit for a few days just to get his head straight. Is Burger ready yet? Sometimes sitting for a while as a healthy scratch can be a motivation in itself.

charlie

If they do sit him he’ll continue to suck whenever he returns.
I say send his ass down to Charlotte and try like hell to move him in the off-season by paying some of his salary to whoever may take him.

a-t

You’re really committed to hating a guy who was the best player on the team last year lol

charlie

Really..when we kept hearing about the possibility of lingering effects from Covid? Hope the lol meant you’re kidding

a-t

He hit .263/.375/.412 last year, which translates a 122 wRC+, about on par with, say, Nolan Arenado’s career average 120 wRC+. Even with whatever post-COVID effects he’s dealt with, between 2019 and 2021 he was a top-25 position player in baseball by fWAR, between Aaron Judge and George Springer in total fWAR. There’s no disagreement that this year has been highly disappointing for him, and he looks lost at the plate right now, not committing to hunting his pitches to drive them.

The reason he was such a highly thought-of prospect is that he can be a positive in basically every facet of the game. He’s a plus baserunner and excellent defender, and that means he contributes to the team even when mired in a dreadful slump like this.

soxygen

He was also a whopping 0.3 fWAR better than Jenner Candelario in 2021. His WAR value in 2021 came from positional adjustments and offensively a lot of it came from walks. He’s a low ISO, high OBP guy who had a .350 BABIP and scored poorly on leverage/clutch metrics and who has been worth a whole 2.5 WPA over his career. All of which is to say that I think reasonable people can disagree about him, and I find the WAR-based indignation to be a little over the top.

Last year among 3B with 200 plate appearances he was 7th for batting, 21st for baserunning, and 19th for fielding. So, I think one way of looking at him is “one of the best players in baseball and almost as good as Arenado” (paraphrasing) and another way is “middling third baseman who is just a little bit more valuable than Jeimer Candelario.”

texag10

I can play this game too!

Moncada was only 0.2 fWAR behind Rafael Devers last year with 48 fewer PAs. Man, that guy was really good last year.

soxygen

When you try to boil everything down to one metric like fWAR, it does help to dig in. Moncada’s 2021 fWAR of 4.1 sounds good, but 1.4 of that was just for playing 3B. So comparing him to other 3B makes sense, as does digging in to the actual components of fWAR.

Also, I have to say that it bothers me when people are really dismissive of the perspectives of other people in the fan community and use numbers like a cudgel to make the argument when the numbers themselves are ambiguous. Moncada is a polarizing player, and the numbers are consistent with the idea that two people can see different things when watching him play.

Some of the same people who make the argument that we should judge him by fWAR are also arguing that he is an excellent defender, though the numbers that go into the fWAR calculation would indicate that he is literally an average defender… Which is totally consistent with the strange shape that his fielding value takes – bad on a lot of simple plays when he is stationary, and really good when he has to make tough throws on the run.

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
texag10

This is such a weird hill for you to die on considering you were using fWAR to dismiss his 2021 season. Even more so when the only comparisons that have been made so far are to other 3B who get the same benefit from positional adjustment as Moncada but you seem to only hold against him and not the other players. You may not like the “shape” of Moncada’s fWAR but most every site is in agreement that Moncada was pretty damn good last year regardless of whatever casual fans seem to think.

soxygen

The guy made 16 errors last year, had a .953 fielding percentage, and was worth 0 runs above average.

But you know, sure, respond to someone whose larger point is that reasonable people can disagree about Moncada and that therefore we should be polite about it with some snark of your own. That really helps build a sense of camaraderie here.

texag10

So now this is a purely defensive value related argument?

The issue here isn’t about being “reasonable” or “polite”. The issue here is the ad nauseum Moncada hate that when rebutted with statistics gets met with whataboutism. You are the one who chose Candalario and I’m guessing it’s because most people don’t realize he had 3.8 fWAR last year. You also specifically didn’t mention values and just the difference in their values. You could have mentioned Devers or Machado who were rated in same area but you didn’t. Then when I called you out on that reverted to “well he got a bonus for playing 3B” like the other guys didn’t as well. And now the argument is just that he wasn’t a great defender last year which was never even part of any of my arguments in this thread. You apparently only want to have this discussion on your terms which boil down to “Moncada is overrated/bad and everyone should agree with me on that” and frankly it’s ridiculous.

Torpedo Jones

Guys – good news. Turns out we’re all just members of an online community that passionately follows the White Sox. So none of this has to be a virtual fistfight.

gibby32

I fail to see the “snark”. I agree with your larger point that we should be polite; but as I noted earlier, you have defended “charlie”, who was not polite, either to Moncada or to other commenters.

gibby32

As to dismissive of other perspectives, when the perspectives use terms like “his ass”, I feel comfortable treating the comment as something to be dismissed.

charlie

Our season is hanging by a thread and you want me to be polite about a guy who is killing us??

gibby32

Yep.

soxygen

He also was worth 0 outs above average in the field in 2021 and 0 runs above average and 3 defensive runs saved, so “excellent defender” might be overstating it and isn’t totally supported by the numbers.

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
As Cirensica

Moncada lack of power is what separates him from the top tier 3Bs. He had enough power and OBP plus defense to support the “he is a star” player which he has been until Moncada hit a wall in 2022.

Moncada’s ISO has been trending in the wrong direction for four consecutive year, and becoming a Yolmer Sanchez light hitter is felt. Pitchers no longer are afraid of throwing him in the middle of the plate, so K goes up while walks goes down and so his great OBP.

That’s what I think is the greatest problem with Moncada. His ability to hit the ball with authority has vanished.Moncada has always been among the top tier in EV. This year? He is been worse than 2019 Yolmer Sanchez. Rich Hahn didn’t pay Yolmer despite being a Gold Glove, and we are paying Moncada 17M and 24M in the next 2 years. So yeah, that’s a problem.

charlie

Well said. And never seen a guy take strike 3 more.
Yet being allowed to drown us in a pennant race.

gibby32

Yep, “charlie” simply is exhibiting a common piece of shoddy analysis. That is, whatever is happening now is going to continue to happen; recency bias. But, I am worried about Moncada; he looks completely lost at the plate. The combination of a-t comments and (some of) soxygen comments currently provide an accurate picture, I believe. Moncada still contributes: not Arenado, not Candelario.

charlie

He had one good year, has flirted with being a bust offensively ever since and now definitely is

Torpedo Jones

I don’t think that’s true. For any of his shortcomings, he still landed in the top 10 of 3B last year by fWAR. Not a superstar, but that doesn’t register as a bust to me.

Augusto Barojas

I don’t get why people argue endlessly, defending the merit of players on a team that is going nowhere. Moncada had a very good offensive year in 2019 and has not been close to as good since. He was decent but not great last year, just like this team. And he is closer to awful this year, just like this team. They wouldn’t have the 9th best record in the league if their players were really good, or it was worth cherry picking statistics to deny this team’s obvious weaknesses and shortcomings, and lack of any real strengths.

Moncada is not the Sox only problem but he has certainly been one of them this year, and criticism is justified.

itaita

Considering the teams overall defense id be okay with M0-4cada playing defense if the rest of the offense shows up like we would expect them to like today.

Root Cause

I am determined to enjoy whatever good is left in 2022. (No matter how many times I have to remind myself of it!)

Cueto, Harrison, and Pollock have been fun to watch. Eloy, Luis, and Andrew have their shining moments at the plate and August Abreu is great to see once again. I hope Cease gets the Cy award so he can rub that into those who snubbed him in the ASG.

I have no further expectations of other individuals or playoff aspirations. Whatever else good happens is a welcome surprise. (No matter how many times I have to remind myself of it!)

soxygen

AJ Pollock had some really nice at bats today, and Eloy made more solid contact. We might have too many left fielders, but it doesn’t feel like as much of a problem when they are both hitting.

a-t

well, we’ve got a double date w the Royals, and the twins have a pair @ LAD, so my unreasonable optimism remains undimmed

a-t

Also: I recommend watching how the Twins lost, it’s very funny, in a schadenfreude-for-division-rival way

ChiSoxND12

Loved the outcome, hated the call/ruling

a-t

no, it was clearly right. The problem is that Sanchez was in the baseline blocking the plate before the ball was even released by the LF! he didn’t move there to catch it at all, which is allowed. If you watch the replay, his left foot/leg is blocking Merrifield from sliding past on the dugout side waaay before he got the ball. Under the new rules, you can block the plate once you have the ball, or you can block it if you’re moving to catch a ball, but you can’t be blocking it the entire time way before you get the ball, which is what Sanchez did.

ChiSoxND12

You can certainly claim that the rule was enforced correctly, but the inconsistency of enforcement is ludicrous. Baldelli’s main gripe was that catchers do what Sánchez did all the time, and hardly ever get penalized/outs overturned, and he’s definitely correct on that

Last edited 1 month ago by ChiSoxND12
gibby32

If that was Baldelli’s gripe he should be canned. If I am stopped for speeding, it is not a defense that others speed without penalty all the time.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I really hope that Baldelli isn’t canned, though. Having Baldelli and Matheny in the division is kind of nice.

a-t

No, he isn’t, he simply doesn’t understand the rule. The exact same thing happened in another game yesterday, in the Pirates-Orioles game. It just didn’t get remotely the same attention because its the Pirates and O’s not two contenders, wasn’t a game-deciding run, and didn’t have the drama of extras.

If you watch the play, how Chirinos sets up is the same way Sanchez does. It’s how catchers were taught to do it before the rule change. After it, catchers are now taught to stand in fair territory a little in front of the plate to receive the throw. That allows runners to try and go around them so there aren’t these bone-shattering collisions at home plate any more.

soxygen

It looks like the Dodgers will win tonight, which would put them 42 games above .500. Wow.

Joliet Orange Sox

Imagine if the Dodgers hadn’t traded away Yordan Álvarez for mediocre middle-reliever Josh Fields.

soxygen

Ugh

tommytwonines

Was Sosa in the dugout? I guess he’ll start one game of the double header on Tuesday.

calcetinesblancos

Probably won’t play at all. The TA suspension has allowed Tony to elevate Leury to his proper place as a full-time starter.

a-t

He’s not regarded as a great SS defender, so Leury SS/Sosa 2B and then TA SS/Harrison 2B is what makes the most sense.

Augusto Barojas

I think the Russa will keep Sosa on the bench without getting him any AB’s just to be an a-hole. Or he’ll hit him first or 3rd in the order, showing how childish he is.

metasox

He is only there to ensure the team doesn’t have a short bench as the result of a suspension. There is no obligation ot play him over guys who are actually part of the 26 man roster

Last edited 1 month ago by metasox
soxygen

Since Rob Manfred has no respect for tradition, here’s an idea for a fun rule change: if a player is suspended, their team plays short handed in the field. It would be fun to watch defensive positioning in the baseball equivalent of a hockey power play.

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
Root Cause

Ok, I will bite. But that might de-value Chris Sale a bit.

Holland23

The rock fight for the division lead continues!

ParisSox

Feels more like a pillow fight.

Holland23

Fun fact I once held the world record for ‘most people in pillow fight’ (with a couple of thousand other people). And believe me a pillow fight can get messy.

texag10

Says someone who’s never gotten a bloody nose from a pillow to the face.

ParisSox

Hey, where are you in Holland? I get to Amsterdam / Schiphol about once a month for work.

Holland23

‘Near’ Utrecht in a smaller town called Veenendaal.

ParisSox

One of my employees is in Utrecht. We talked about doing a team meeting there. If that happens I’ll let you know. Would love to have an international meetup to discuss all things white Sox.

Holland23

Nice!

fozzie_bear_guillen

Well well. The boys managed to win without Cease on the mound. And still remain blue-balling close to 1st in an abysmal AL Central. Welp, I’m in!

Root Cause

The disappointments overshadow the play of several who are playing well. Maybe the others will join the inspired play of Pollack, Cueto, and Harrison.

charlie

Re Moncada..our season is hanging by a thread and I’m not going to be polite about a guy who day after day continues to be given the opportunity to bury us.