White Sox 9, Tigers 8: Yermin Mercedes’ walk-off single thoroughly unnecessary, sorely needed

it’s almost like the White Sox wanted Yermín Mercedes to break his hitless slump when the biggest reward was on the other side. There’s no good reason for a walk-off situation being required tonight otherwise.

The White Sox held leads of 6-1 and 7-2 in the back half of this game, yet they still had to bat in the bottom of the ninth. It ended when Mercedes muscled a line drive into left field, snapping his 0-for-25 skid with a single that finally sealed a victory that should’ve been way easier.

Extra innings loomed as a threat, but Jose Cisnero couldn’t even register an out in the ninth. He bounced a slider into Yoán Moncada to start the inning, then gave up a single to José Abreu through the right side that put runners on the corners for Mercedes. With the infield in, Mercedes just needed to get something to the outfield. He used his two-strike approach from the first pitch, and he ended up getting around enough on 99 mph for a soft line drive that landed into left field.

How it got to that point is kinda beyond me, in the sense that my connection sputtered as Codi Heuer loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh inning as the White Sox held a 7-2 lead. Apparently Tony La Russa called for Evan Marshall, who briefly made things better (sac fly) before making things worse. He gave up a three-run homer to Jonathan Schoop to make it a one-run game. Three batters later, it was still a one-run game, but not in a way that White Sox fans wanted. Just when it appeared that a Jeimer Candelario line drive would give Marshall a way out, the Tigers pulled him back down. Miguel Cabrera singled on an 0-2 fastballl that wasn’t high enough, and Eric Haase homered on a sinker that wasn’t low enough to make it an 8-7.

The White Sox tied it in the bottom of the seventh via an annoying Yasmani Grandal homer. It wasn’t anything Grandal did — Abreu was just tagged out at second trying to advance on a Mercedes fly ball when he didn’t realize that any base was scoring position for Grandal tonight. Grandal homered twice and walked twice tonight, giving him a slash line that can best be described as perverted and depraved (.154/.400/.433).

Grandal opened the game’s scoring with a homer off Spencer Turnbull in the second inning. The Tigers answered it in the top of the third with an assist from the White Sox. Yoán Moncada didn’t stay down on Robbie Grossman’s two-out grounder to keep the inning alive, and Schoop made the Sox pay with a double that Jake Lamb couldn’t cut off in left.

This game could have been a respectable pitcher’s duel had Turnbull remained in the game, but he exited after four innings with the dreaded forearm tightness. When the Detroit bullpen got involved, madness started taking over. The Sox loaded the bases immediately with a Grandal walk, a Lamb single and a bunt by Leury García that Kyle Funkhouser refused to regard as a sacrifice by throwing wide of first base.

Nick Madrigal couldn’t get a run home, but Tim Anderson laced a single through the middle to score two, giving the Sox a 3-1 lead. Adam Eaton’s bouncer to second was lucky to score one, but when Willi Castro’s home got past Erik Haase, Anderson followed García home to make it 5-1. Abreu then capped off the scoring with an RBI groundout.

That should have been enough for the White Sox, especially since Dallas Keuchel did what he needed to do against a lesser opponent. He allowed six baserunners over six innings, erasing one of them with a double play. He also threw just 80 pitches. A Schoop solo shot in the sixth might’ve scared La Russa from having Keuchel start one more, but little did he know what waited for everybody around the corner.

Bullet points:

*Billy Hamilton preserved the tie game in the ninth by running down a Cabrera drive in left center off Garrett Crochet.

*Crochet, somebody who was supposed to throw single innings as a way to reacclimate to MLB pitching since his IL stint, threw 30 pitches over 1⅔ innings. He allowed a single and two walks, and Liam Hendriks had to come in to get the final batter via a routine fly to left.

*Turnbull’s last batter was Mercedes, whom he struck out after a 12-pitch tangle. Mercedes lost the battle but won the war.

*Turnbull’s exit meant Detroit had to use six relievers, four of whom were scored upon. *Nick Madrigal did the damage against Tyler Alexander with his second career homer. One at-bat after a 61.5 mph popout failed to score anybody, he mustered 99.2 mph that scored himself.

Record: 35-22 | Box score | Statcast

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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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asinwreck

Grandal homered twice and walked twice tonight, giving him a slash line that can best be described as perverted and depraved (.154/.400/.433).

Even Rob Deer is blushing.

burning-phoneix

This is the future of baseball we’re witnessing.

I’m scared.

Infield Grass

I have kind of come around to the idea that hitting under .200 with a higher walk rate might actually be his optimal approach in today’s game with the shift and thinking back to early in the season when he was hitting ground balls and seemed to be hitting into double plays regularly along with Jose. Seems like he adapted by really disciplining himself to only swing at pitches he can get in the air and pitchers still fear his power enough that they won’t throw it over the plate and with good reason the way he drops the hammer. Looking at the numbers it seems like he can actually be better hitting under .200 than all his seasons hitting .230 with a .350 OBP and a bit higher slugging % .

soxygen

IDK what to think about this bullpen. It seems like maybe they were counting on Heuer to do more than he is able to at this stage, so it would be nice to see him put in some lower leverage situations. Of course, the way that happens is if the starters do their jobs and Bummer & Marshall do theirs.

jhomeslice

Liam has finally come around big time, but the rest of their pen is a big disappointment. I thought would be a strength of this team, not the case at all. Bummer hopefully has gotten past his struggles at least. But Marshall, Foster, Heuer… yuck. Fry has now had 4 scoreless 1 inning appearances at AAA. You would have to think he cannot be too far away from getting called up, and that there is a good chance Marshall gets demoted when that happens. Anyway Fry represents one re-inforcement at least, to replace whoever they think their weakest bullpen link is. Fry is not great but should be a huge improvement over those 3.

The pen is one area they might explore a trade near the deadline. I’m not sure Fry is going to be enough to shore up their issues. They could sure use another reliable arm to bring in in addition to Fry, preferably a righty I think with Bummer, Fry, Crochet being left handed.

Last edited 1 year ago by jhomeslice
lifelongjd

Hopefully Kopech comes back in the next 10 days or so. Him and an effective Fry would be a huge shot in the arm.
Surprised to see Ruiz warming when it looked like Marshall wouldn’t make it out of the 7th. Seems like he’s next guy up, ahead of Foster and Burr. Jim has said it many times, the Sox should be wary of expecting too much from him in higher leverage situations.

dwjm3

This is where Ricky and Cooper running Jimmy Cordero into the ground hurts. He was good at scenarios like last night where you need a guy who can clean up inherited runners. Marshall failed spectacularly in that role.

Foulkelore

When Fry returns, they will have 3 lefties that they will not need to all save for lefty-heavy portions of the batting order. Crochet probably doesn’t have enough career innings for his splits to be statistically significant, but so far, his splits seem to indicate he’s the best of the three to use against righties. I think their best short term bet is to get Fry up and use Crochet against righties ahead of Heuer/Foster/Marshall right now, at least until one of them comes around. I thought Marshall was starting to do that, but then he went ahead and sprinted to the mound with two full gas cans sloshing around in his hands when he came in last night. When Kopech gets back, that will help a ton. Long-term for this season, it looks like their biggest need is to go out and acquire at least one good righty reliever.

Chip

Some of the problems with the bullpen is how it has been handled by Tony LaGenius, He has always had that as a blind spot and it continues during this tenure with Sox. Maybe there will be an article about handling the bullpen in the next AARP magazine that he can read and improve.

soxygen

You gotta get 27 outs to win. Tony is counting on Marshall, Bummer, and Heuer to get more of those outs than they are able to get.

The good news is that 4 of our starters are consistent, and the manager is now using his closer. I think to stabilize the bullpen he is going to need that consistency from the starters to continue, hope Cease’s horrible starts are few and far between, and will need to rely more heavily on Kopech and Crochet.

Also, I think he needs to figure out if some of the low leverage relievers have a role on this team. For example, will it help to have Foster open once a week? And if not, what role can Foster play that will help us get 27 outs on game days?

soxygen

From usage, it seems like they think Burr and Foster are the least valuable relievers. If Fry is going to be rostered, I would expect it to be at the expense of one of those two.

metasox

And Marshall is still the guy looked to for ground balls. Unless something has radically changed with the thinking, I would expect the Sox to try continue trying to get him sorted out

soxygen

That seems to be what they want from Marshall, though contact-oriented relievers don’t do much for me anymore.

The difference between a ground ball that turns into a double play and a ground ball that turns into a single is mostly just luck. And I do think that changes to the swing plane and also the 3 batter minimum have made that kind of reliever seem less important.

Ground ball relievers like Marshall or Cordero are useful with a slow runner on 1st, 1 out, and the bottom of the order coming up. But pitching to contact from the pen against good hitters, with speed on the bases, or with a runner on second isn’t a very effective way to get out of a jam.

Chip

Evan Marshall would look good in another team’s uniform.

evenyoudorn

You got Seth Meyers writing these things now? Very enjoyable read.

Foulkelore

This headline is outstanding. It will make anybody who didn’t watch last night’s game immediately click on it to find out how that makes sense, and anybody who watched the game nod their head and think it’s perfect.

tommytwonines

Apropos of nothing, what is the playoff format like this year? If the White Sox finish first in the AL overall, is it a three-game series?

Foulkelore

I think it’s back to normal. So, the two wild-card teams play one game to see who continues. The wild card game winner and 3 division winners play in a best of 5 series in the first round. There is no specific advantage to finishing first in the AL overall, other than home field advantage and seeding (best team in AL faces the wild card winner, who probably just expended their beat pitching to move on).