I had such a different recap planned. The title was going to be “Putting it Together,” and it was going to discuss how the White Sox’s offense, defense, and pitching finally had a good game all at the same time. I was going to throw in an obscure Stephen Sondheim reference to see if there were any other theater nerds out there. There were going to be self-deprecating jokes about Sox fans being overjoyed at the first series split of the season. Sure, it was only two games, but it was a team that wasn’t the Royals! A team that’s actually above .500! And all of this in a game time of 2:45!
I had that joyous recap percolating through eight innings. Then the ninth happened. And the White Sox lost yet again, this time 6-5 to the Pittsburgh Pirates when the Pirates scored four off of closer-for-the-day (because Joakim Soria blew the last save opportunity) Nate Jones.
Let’s break it down, using my original bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece plan.
Starting pitching: Reynaldo Lopez was outstanding, with the longest outing of his professional career (7 1⁄3 innings). Yes, he gave up back-to-back solo shots in the sixth, but those represented two of only three hits, and he kept his walks to two, along with six strikeouts. And he recovered well from those home runs, pitching into the eighth, where Jace Fry looked quite good (two Ks in as many batters).
Offense: The Sox started early, with a Tim Anderson (1-for-4) two-run home run in the second. Daniel Palka (3-for-3 and a walk) had his own two-run blast in the fourth, giving Chicago a 4-0 lead. The White Sox then added what we thought was an insurance run off of a Wellington Castillo double in the eighth. Sure, there were plenty of bad plate performances today, with Matt Davidson, Leury Garcia, Trayce Thompson and Adam Engel all going hitless. But overall, the Sox were 2-for-6 with RISP, which is progress from where they started the season.
Defense: Zero errors, a nifty stab by López in the fourth, and a nice run-down by Palka to make a catch at the wall in the sixth.
Relief pitching: I put Fry in the earlier paragraph on purpose, so as not to taint his outing. Nate Jones came on in the ninth and promptly gave up singles to Starling Marte and Josh Bell. A soft grounder from Corey Dickerson gave the Sox one out, but also gave the Pirates two men in scoring position. Jones then made two beautiful pitches — both sliders — that Elias Diaz chased for strikes. On an 0-2 count, Jones then threw a fastball down the middle that Diaz crushed for a ground-rule double. I don’t know if that’s a bad pitch call from Castillo, or if Jones missed his location, but it made me very, very sad. I wanted to turn off the TV, but then how could I have finished this recap? (The things I put up with for you people.) A two-run homer from Colin Moran finished off the Sox, who could not mount their own comeback in the bottom of the ninth. That double was the killer. I argue that the home run doesn’t happen if Jones doesn’t give up that double on an 0-2 count.
Also worth mentioning is that Nicky Delmonico had to leave the game in the bottom of the fourth after a pointless run-in with Bell, the Pirates first baseman. Pointless not because of anything that Delmonico did, but because I have no idea what Bell was doing in the base path; there was no play for him to make, no backup position for him to be in.
Today’s moments in history ...
This rebuild might actually work: No errors from our boys today. That’s something. Also, Stone and Benetti interviewed Winson-Salem Dash manager Omar Vizquel, who compared Micker Adolfo to a young Manny Ramirez. That would be so nice.
I watched so you didn’t have to: I’ll let Steve Stone handle this one: “You have to wonder why, when [Díaz] can’t handle the slider, a fastball would be forthcoming. But forthcoming it was.”
This is what it feels like to be a Sox fan: Díaz’s double was his first of the season. Of course it was.
Bonus points for anybody who got my Sondheim references. Next up are the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley starting on Friday. It’s going to be ugly, y’all.