The most important thing to tell you about this four-hour march onward toward nearly another month’s worth of pretend games is summed up in one tweet, from the sardonic wit of Daryl Van Schouwen:
The third inning of today's Cactus League tilt between the Dodgers and White Sox is complete after one hour, 15 minutes.— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) March 2, 2018
For some context, Mark Buehrle beat the Seattle Mariners 2-1 on April 16, 2005 in one hour, 39 minutes.
Yes, Friday’s sold-out rematch between the Good Guys and the Boys in Blue had all the timing trappings of a B-game on a back field, or a summer 16-inch game in Grant Park.
A 75-minute third inning is the sort of thing that numbs you to much that happens thereafter. Our faithful gamer scribe Year of the Hamster even fell victim to the malaise that navigating an injured pitcher, injured umpire, and Charley Steiner stories about Hee Seop Choi and the Marlins Home Run sculpture will induce.
We’ll call her day-to-day with ... wait for it ... a strained hammy.
But lest I drag this game out any longer, let’s get down to it.
Miguel Gonzalez started for the White Sox and walked the tightrope in the second inning, issuing three singles to pack the sacks, before getting Joc Pederson, full of sound and fury, to foul out to Yolmer Sanchez.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw was doing Clayton Kershaw things, gradually edging the outside corner for strikes to righties until the outer edge sat somewhere in the White Sox dugout along the first-base line. More than once he froze Chisox hitters with his chest-caving curveball. Sweet hell what new, two innings, two K’s, a walk, a hit, and an awkward pickoff attempt that went for a two-base error.
Starters dismissed, it was t i m e t o s l o w t h e g a m e d o w n .
Enter Joakim Soria.
Soria was not good today.
If not for the offensive contributions he made to the Dodgers, the veteran reliever wouldn’t have cause to show up in the box score. But, pack up the cats, here are the cogent figures:
To be fair (which I am decidedly not being because, after all, I have to write up this chalkboard-nailer), after Yasmani Grandal led off the inning with a ringing double, centerfielder Adam Engel did Soria no favors when he pursued Travis Taijeron’s sharp single to left-center like a soused butterfly. Grandal scored, and it was as if Soria shifted to BP mode, because not a softly-hit ball was to be found between that moment and the showers.
It seemed a minor miracle that a game that seemed destined to tilt 15-0 or 16-0 on the scoreboard had Soria remained for his full pitch count somehow entered the bottom of the third a mere 4-0, Dodgers.
Credit Los Angeles, because they did their lost half-inning way weirder than the White Sox. Engel led off against new pitcher Tom Koehler with a no-doubter out to left field to cut the lead to three. Yeah, hang wif me here, I said Adam Engel went yard with a Captain Caveman clubbing. Yoan Moncada walked, stole second, moved to third on Leury Garcia’s ground out. Chipping away, cue Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit Theme, Jose Abreu walks, and —
Koehler developed biceps tightness, which sent him straight past the postgame spread to a shoulder MRI. Brock Stewart replaced Koehler, and in a nod back to Soria, no amount of warmup pitches could have prepared him properly for this game. Avisail Garcia clocked a single to right, plating Moncada, and Matt Davidson walked to pack the sacks with Sox.
Then, in a monumental cross-up, Stewart threw a fastball up and in to Welington Castillo that catcher Grandal completely whiffed on. The ball clocked home plate umpire Tony Randazzo square in the collarbone and knocked him flat on his back.
Second injury delay.
During the pause, to attend to an apparently A-OK Randazzo and allow for umpire shifting, Stewart must have cross-kneed himself in a Camelback Zen garden, because he returned to induce a sac fly from Castillo and a fly out from Nicky Delmonico.
Some 75 minutes after Soria threw the first pitch of the 3rd, the inning was over. Dodgers 4, White Sox 3.
The White Sox kept the Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit Theme on repeat, however, because by the next inning Casey Gillaspie had tapped home Leury Garcia to tie the contest at five.
At some point — let’s say the three-hour-mark — both sides instituted no parking on the dance floor rules, and the game picked up pace. In the eighth and ninth, the clubs call-and-responded with homers, the difference being L.A.’s DJ Peters’ round-tripper plated two, while Sox SS Eddy Alvarez’s was a solo joint.
Tallying up the pitching, Sox bright spots beyond Gonzalez were Jeanmar Gomez (no longer perfect, but still goose-egging his ERA), Danny Farquhar (with a nice bounce-back inning) and the ruthlessly efficient Chris Volstad (putting the game to bed with two Ks in 1 2⁄3 innings).
Offensively, the White Sox saw their streak of double-figure hits games snapped, scoring six on just seven hits. Engel and Leury Garcia — who was a Bums menace on the field, at the plate and on the basepaths — both collected two hits.
Tomorrow, St. Michael Kopech takes the mound in the Schaumburgian sprawl of Surprise, AZ, throwing a scheduled three innings against the 5-1 Kansas City Royals.