There aren’t many better ways to end a nine-game losing streak than by taking a game against the Cubs in Wrigley Field.
What’d it take?
*It took Miguel Gonzalez becoming the first White Sox starter in 30 games to throw seven innings. He actually lasted 7 1⁄3, which allowed Rick Renteria to use the only two relievers he trusts to get through the rest of the game.
*It took Adam Engel and Matt Davidson conquering a stiff wind blowing in. Engel untied a 1-1 game with a blast to the left-center bleachers in the sixth inning, and Matt Davidson added an insurance solo shot onto Waveland off Koji Uehara in the eighth.
Anthony Rizzo could not do the same. The Sox’ shorthanded pitching situation played into the Cubs’ hands in the seventh when Gonzalez issued a five-pitch walk to Kris Bryant to load the bases. Under most circumstances, Gonzalez wouldn’t have been pitching at that point, but with Renteria trying to ration Jennings and Swarzak because there may not be another MLB reliever in the bullpen, Gonzalez stayed in. He got ahead 1-2 before throwing a knee-high, center-cut fastball, but Rizzo’s drive to center died in Engel’s glove on the warning track.
That effectively decided the game, although Swarzak had strand a pair of inherited runners in the eighth, and then two of his own runners in the ninth. Bryant reached on an infield single and Rizzo walked to bring Willson Contreras to the plate as the go-ahead run, but Swarzak froze him with a pair of outside-corner fastballs for his first career save in his 226th career relief appearance.
For the first half of this game, both offenses were undermined by poor timing, as the best scoring situations corresponded with the pitcher’s spot at the plate. Kyle Hendricks had the bases loaded with one out, and a two-on-two-out situation, while Gonzalez had two of the latter.
The Cubs were able to gain a 1-0 lead out of it through four innings because Hendricks had the fortune of shattering his bat on a weak grounder. The flying barrel appeared to distract Gonzalez, who otherwise could have fielded the grounder to start a 1-2-3 double play. Instead, it turned into a run-scoring 4-3.
The Sox finally found extra bases in the fifth. After Melky Cabrera singled and Yoan Moncada had to fulfill Renteria’s ill-advised bunt call du jour before striking out, Jose Abreu drove Cabrera all the way around by hammering a 3-1 sinker to the right-center gap to the game at 1.
An inning later, Engel put the Sox ahead for good by jumping on Justin Grimm’s first-pitch fastball. Davidson followed suit two innings later by crushing a hanging 2-2 Uehara splitter, giving both rookies a memorable entry into their Crosstown Cup careers, and Renteria a satisfying return to Wrigley Field.
*Moncada collected his second hit of the year with a single off Hendricks, but he also collected his second, third, fourth and fifth strikeouts of the year. The field wasn’t much easier, as he bobbled a couple of grounders, although he recovered in time to get the outs.
*The White Sox went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, but the Cubs went 0-for-10.