White Sox 9, Royals 2: Quiet deadline not yet a problem

If the White Sox wanted to prove that major trade deadline acquisitions weren’t necessary to become a threat over the final two months of the season, tonight was a fine start toward that end.

The White Sox frustrated Brad Keller early and pounded him late, with their four most important hitters leading the charge. Eloy Jiménez had three hits and four RBIs in his promotion to the No. 3 spot, while Tim Anderson, Andrew Vaughn and José Abreu contributed eight hits around him.

Lucas Giolito was merely OK, but thanks to the three crooked numbers, that’s all that was needed from him.

If you’re looking for reasons to resist extrapolating this performance over the coming weeks, this is a Kansas City team that entered the evening 21 games under .500 and often looked the part. MJ Melendez played a single into Vaughn’s first professional triple to start a three-run first inning, Bobby Witt Jr. had an ugly game at shortstop, and Mike Matheny left Keller long enough to allow 13 hits over 5⅔ innings. The Sox relied a lot on seeing-eye singles early before finally elevating the ball for a couple homers that pushed the game out of reach. Tim Anderson matched Witt with a sloppy game at short, and also ran into an out at third on a Jiménez sac fly. Giolito walked three batters in a third inning that almost spiraled out of control.

But if you’re content to enjoy an evening of baseball while reserving judgment for whole series and weeks, then tonight was just a whole lot of fun.

It started early, when Vaughn raced to third base on a fly ball that was well out of range of Melendez’s dive with one out in the first inning. He scored on Jiménez’s slashed single through a curiously drawn-in infield, and then Jiménez put himself in scoring position with a good break on a pitch in the first. Abreu stayed down on a 2-2 slider and poked it through the middle to score Jiménez, and after Yoán Moncada walked, AJ Pollock emulated Abreu with his own five-hopper past shortstop for a 3-0 lead.

Giolito never trailed, although he came close in the third. He opened the inning with a pair of walks, then alternated outs with run-scoring hits — an RBI single by Sal Perez, and an RBI double by Hunter Dozier that put runners on second and third. Giolito then filled the bases with his third walk of the inning, but rebounded to strike out Michael A. Taylor to end the threat.

Giolito and the White Sox bullpen weren’t threatened again, and the offense eventually provided insurance. In the fourth inning, they strung together four consecutive one-out hits, with Jiménez providing the key blow with a bases-loaded double inside third base, which made it a 5-2 game.

Two innings later, the Sox linked five successful plate appearances to take advantage of Matheny’s slow hook. After three singles loaded the bases, Jiménez almost unloaded them with a fly to left that took Kyle Isbel to the warning track. He had to settle for a sac fly, and a sac fly double play when Anderson was cut down at second, but José Abreu eliminated the aftertaste with a first-pitch no-doubt blast off the left-field foul pole, which is what we’ve come to expect from him this month.

Gavin Sheets added a solo shot off Josh Staumont for the game’s final run.

Beyond the offense outbursts, the game’s most satisfying element was the White Sox debut of Jake Diekman. He took over for Giolito in the sixth inning and pitched an easy 1-2-3 inning on 12 pitches, including two strikeouts. He threw plenty of strikes with both his 96 mph fastball and tight slider, so hopefully he has more where that came from.

Joe Kelly pitched the seventh inning, which seemed unnecessary, but Matt Foster and Tanner Banks were used in more appropriate leverage to close out the game.

Bullet points:

*Minnesota and Cleveland both lost, so the White Sox are two games out of first, and one game out of second.

*Anderson wasn’t charged with an error, but he had three plays to his left that he couldn’t field cleanly, including two that were within his range.

*Yasmani Grandal was the only White Sox player to not reach base.

*The White Sox were 6-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Record: 52-51 | 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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Joliet Orange Sox

I watched much of the game and was pretty happy with the Sox winning big on a night the Twins and Guardians both lost.

However, there was so much dourness in the game thread that I was concerned I was mistaken in thinking that tonight was a good night for the Sox. I’m glad that this recap confirmed that the Sox actually did win this game and “if you’re content to enjoy an evening of baseball while reserving judgment for whole series and weeks, then tonight was just a whole lot of fun.”

soxfan

Thank you! For all the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, the White Sox were five games over .500 in July. If they can keep that pace up through the end of the year, they’ll end up with about 86 wins which is probably enough for the playoffs.

I understand that the first half of the season was a train wreck and that we still have lingering issues (is Robert healthy,; will Lynn, Giolito, Moncada, and/ Grandal return to form; will Jimenez Sheets, and Harrison be cromulent or better through the end of the year) but losing one game to the Royals and not mortgaging the future on a mediocre innings eater aren’t signs of the apocalypse.

Short of a deep playoff run this season will be a disappointment, but a playoff appearance and signs of health and recovery leading into next year could make it a mild disappointment rather than an existential threat to my fandom.

Foulkelore

There was a Detroiters reference in the game thread. That’s the opposite of dour.

asinwreck

Sometimes Jason Benetti reminds me of Vin. They have many differences and distinct personalities, but some aspects in common. The vast amount of preparation before turning the mike on. The conversational tone that makes most listeners assume this work is effortless. The way the mind and mouth synthesize the preparation and are able to be spontaneous, thoughtful, and in the moment. The way you often feel you are learning something, maybe about the game or a person involved in the game.

The way they sound like they are talking to a friend. Vin Scully took care to use that word for the audience when signing off in 2016. I get the sense from Benetti that he also treats the people he is speaking with as friends. The result is everything you’d want a broadcast to be, and the template for that approach will remain Vin Scully long into the future.

GrinnellSteve

Scully was simply the best, but as you so eloquently state, Jason tilts heavily in that direction. We’re very fortunate in that regard.

Jon Miller is another in that mold.

soxygen

I have taken an afternoon off here and there to listen to Scully or Miller call a game. It really never mattered who they were playing, just that there was a midweek afternoon game during a slow week at the office.

As Cirensica

I think I was on a minority out there but I did love Jon Miller and Joe Morgan combo.

As Cirensica

The vast amount of preparation before turning the mike on. The conversational tone that makes most listeners assume this work is effortless.

One of the characteristics that immediately caught my attention when I started to listen to Jason was his ability to talk fluidly, ad follow any topic around the booth as if it was scripted, and memorized, but I know it wasn’t. Narrating flows so natural for Jason. Just like Vin.

a-t

some batting lines for important dudes since returns from not playing:

Sheets (since back from AAA on 6/23): .268/.321/.485, 127 wRC+
Eloy (since back from IL on 7/6): .302/.338/.524, 143 wRC+
Grandal (since back from IL on 7/22): .229/.250/.229, 43 wRC+
Moncada (since back from IL the 2nd time on 6/28): .224/.303/.348, 92 wRC+

sheets and eloy are hitting basically like they’re expected to. yaz and yoan… not so much.

soxygen

RIP Vin Scully. I’ll always remember this particular aside re Venezuelan socialism…

https://mobile.twitter.com/bubbaprog/status/744014925044015104

calcetinesblancos

We all have flaws.

soxygen

I have to admit that I cashed in my chips and went to bed shortly after both Moncada and Abreu didn’t run hard on Moncada’s ground ball that should have been a double play. If there was fun to be had after two of our “stars” couldn’t be bothered to run hard, then sadly I missed it. On the upside, they both ended up safe…because Kansas City…

metasox

Did not see the game so did not see that. But something that has struck is a lack of consistent hustle out of the box on fly balls. Am not referring to no-doubt homeruns – which the team hits few of anyway – but standing to admire any ball hit in the air

huisj

They’re standing there shocked that they didn’t pound it into the ground, and the pause is just to delay the reprimand they’ll get from the hitting coach when they return to the bench.

dsbatt

Yeah I’m glad Stone and tv crew called some attention to it. It looked very bad in my opinion, and if I recall, it was still when the game was close. I wish Stone would then speak his mind like he did when blasting them directly on the Score for inability to run.

knoxfire30

Ive made this post many times but the amount of obvious not just tweener but obvious errors TA7 makes that are ruled hits is astonishing.

Good win, nice to see the top of the order crush it and the sox cruise to a victory on a day they took a huge L by doing nothing at the deadline while the team they are chasing made 3 nice moves.

peterskills

I was going to comment on this too. Does TA have compromising pictures of the official scorer or something? I couldn’t believe he wasn’t charged with at least one error last night.

It really looked like the game was going to go off the rails for Giolito in the 3rd. For what it’s worth if TA had cleanly fielded a grounder and turned two LG would have gotten out of it unscathed and his line looks better.

SocksO’Graham

Solid players choose to hustle. Moncada is a sad excuse for a million dollar player. Give him a bus ticket to Charlotte and let him mope there.

soxygen

When you see Jose meandering slowly in the general direction of second base and realize “there is our captain.” It was one of those plays that, sure, it was the bottom of the third in a game we won and they both ended up safe, but kind of sums it all up for 2022.

And I know that may be too dour for some, but I think it is fair for fans to want to get their money’s worth.

mrridgman

Not shocking to see Moncada saunter to first; surprising to see Abreu do the same. You have to believe that the grinding disappointment of this season is wearing on these guys.

hitlesswonder

I think poor performance is only rarely the result of players not caring. In particular, nothing in Abreu’s career or in his performance this season indicates that he’s just mailing it in.

I think Grandal’s body is probably broken. I don’t know what is up with Moncada so that is a mystery.

If we want to criticize people in the organization for lack of effort, I’d start with TLR and Hahn who bear way more responsibility for this moribund season than any player.

soxygen

I thought it was telling that in Hahn’s interview with Merkin he referred to recapturing the level of effort and swagger that this group of guys displayed “twenty twenty ish.” …Like, under another manager….

upnorthsox

Or before it was incumbent upon Hahn to make them a contender.

calcetinesblancos

The Royals looked really bad. Hopefully our guys can get back into a groove at the plate so that they are hitting well by the time we start playing good teams again.