For about four innings, it was shaping up to be a wonderful day to be a Chicago White Sox fan.
Dylan Covey was dealing pretty well again, and seemingly had a chance for a second straight win after waiting 14 starts for his first. And Matt Skole, he of the hot spring training Skoles and starting in his first major league game after 712 games in the minors, singled in his first at-bat and homered deep to right in his second.
The White Sox struck three times before Cleveland could counterpunch, two runs coming courtesy of sac flies (José Abreu, Charlie Tilson) in the first and second innings, another coming in the second, when Adam Engel tripled home Skole.
In the fourth, up 3-1, Tim Anderson chased Skole’s round-tripper with one of his own (No. 11 on the season), pushing the White Sox lead to 5-1.
But in the fifth inning, Cleveland struck hard, for five runs, enough to put the game away. Covey took on three runs in that inning, but should have gotten away with none.
How’s that, you say? Could three errors in one inning have anything to do with it? Sigh. Strap it down, pards.
The inning started off with Alfredo González dropping a foul pop for an error off the bat of counterpart Yan Gomes. Covey then got back-handed a second time by his defense, when Anderson’s errant throw to first on a grounder put Gomes on. After a fielder’s choice putout at second, Francisco Lindor singled and Michael Brantley walked, loading the bases. Covey exited at 4 1⁄3 innings and 80 pitches, giving way to Luis Avilán, who retired his only batter, Jose Ramirez, on infield fly to Anderson. Exit Avilán, enter Chris Volstad. And then ...
A “three-run double” to right, off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion — no mighty clout clunking off the wall dead-center or a sly screamer right inside of third base, but a flatulent pop to the Bermuda Triangle that right fielder Daniel Palka, second baseman Yoán Moncada and first baseman Skole all punted on. Moncada was charging hard but, as is his wont, not quite hard enough; Palka sprinted to make the play, but expectedly Palka’d it; Skole enjoyed the view. The official account reads absurdly:
Edwin Encarnacion doubles (6) on a fly ball to first baseman Matt Skole, deflected by right fielder Daniel Palka.
But that was only enough to get the game tied. Exit Volstad, enter Jace Fry, who was touched for a Yonder Alonso double, plating Encarnacion. Old pal Melky Cabrera then executed the classic RBI E4, as Moncada got back into the bumbling act, scoring Alonso. A Fry whiff of Jason Kipnis put an agonizing frame to bed, but the White Sox had fallen down, 7-5, and would not get up.
At least Skole had a game for the scrapbook: 2-for-3 and a walk, reaching base in three of four trips to the plate.
Six Pack of Stats
Facing just one batter in the game, Luis Avilán recorded the highest leverage of any player — and good on him, he retired Jose Ramirez on an infield fly with the bases loaded to make that top leverage go down easy.
With his “three-run” double he initially screamed with disgust over and watched languidly from the box, Edwin Encarnacion (who also clocked a solo shot) had the highest WPA for the game, earning today’s MVP.
With two hits in three official at-bats, along with a walk and a K, Matt Skole had a sweet .111 WPA in his major league debut, second only to Adam Engel (.152) among White Sox today.
By all accounts, Dylan Covey outpitched his rookie counterpart, Cleveland’s Adam Plutko. Covey wasn’t great, with a -.072 WPA for the game, but ...
The ludicrousness of the major league win is evident when Plutko can clock a 9.00 ERA for the game and have a woeful -.245 WPA, yet up his record to 3-0 on the season.
Official scorer calls are a razor’s edge for players. The Encarnacion double was a tough call, no matter what — no clear hit, but a tough error to slap on Daniel Palka as well. But what would have been a pop fly out with a Gold Glove first baseman, an experienced second sacker, or a right fielder with above-average defensive instincts turned into a game-tying double. Chris Volstad, for his one batter and near-out, was tagged with an awful -.310 WPA for the game.