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Mariners 3, White Sox 1: New half, same loss

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Shields strong through seven; LeBlanc has his way with offense

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Seattle Mariners
Palka Power! Daniel Palka drove in the only White Sox run of the game with a double in the first inning.
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s loss was so ordinary in the context of 2018 that I’m struggling to find interesting things to write about it. What can I say?

That James Shields once again managed to grit his way through seven quality innings but still couldn’t get a win?

That Chicago White Sox hitters struck out 10 times against Wade LeBlanc?

That the Sox bullpen had only one inning to cover, Rick Renteria used three different relievers in that inning, and they still allowed a run?

That the Seattle Mariners won another close game?

Shields’s first start of the second half put him on track to find a home in the rotation of a contending team, even if the prospect return will be light. He was throwing his curveball for strikes most of the night, and limited the potential damage of seven hits and a walk. He allowed just two runs on the night (one earned) and struck out five.

The unearned run came in the first, right after Daniel Palka gave the Sox an early lead with an RBI double. Dee Gordon (who was 4-for-4) led off with a single and strayed too far from first base on a fly ball by Jean Segura. Adam Engel almost doubled him up at first, but his throw got away from José Abreu, so Gordon advanced to second instead and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.

Then in the fourth, Kyle Seager and Denard Span hit a pair of sharp line drives to put runners at the corners with one out. Ryon Healy hit a 108-mph scorcher right at Yolmer Sánchez at third, and while Sanchez was able to knock it down and recover, he could only get the out at first, allowing a run to score. Shields allowed some solid contact tonight, so he may have been a bit lucky to give up just the two runs.

Of course, two runs seemed insurmountable the way the offense struggled against LeBlanc all night. His 10 strikeouts tied his career high and pushed the Sox’s league-leading strikeout rate to 25.8% (which would be an MLB single-season record). And yet, LeBlanc still needed only 84 pitches to go 7⅓ innings. “Patient” is not a word you could use to describe Chicago’s approach.

When LeBlanc gave up a single to Omar Narváez with one out in the eighth, Mariners manager Scott Servais brought the quick hook with a 2-1 lead and went to Alex Colomé. This represented the Sox’s best scoring opportunity since the first inning, especially when Sánchez hit a first-pitch single to put two on. But Tim Anderson flied out to right and Leury García hit a liner right at Guillermo Heredia in center. Colomé faced three batters and got two outs — on four pitches.

Seattle scored an insurance run in the eighth when a wild pitch by Juan Minaya put runners on second and third and Nelson Cruz shot a single through the left side. It could’ve been worse, but Abreu and Narváez caught Mitch Haniger between third and home in the next at-bat. Ultimately, Seattle’s insurance was still more than enough, as even with poor control, closer Edwin Díaz dominated the ninth inning with pure stuff.

Other Stuff

  • Nicky Delmonico went 0-for-4 in his first game since having his hand broken by a pitch on May 18.
  • Yoán Moncada followed up his three-walk game on Sunday with two more free passes tonight. He also struck out looking twice on full-count pitches that were pretty clearly outside. Suffice it to say that his strike zone judgment is on point right now — more so than the umpire’s, unfortunately.
  • After his first walk, Moncada lost track of the number of outs and went halfway to second on a pop-up with two outs. Tim Anderson also got TOOTBLAN’d when he took off for second and failed to get back to the bag when García hit a foul pop.
  • The Sox lost a challenge in the top of third when they checked to see whether Gordon came off of second early on a force attempt. The angles on the Sox feed were inconclusive, primarily because the club still refuses to invest in a high-speed camera.
  • Díaz recorded his 37th save of the season, putting him on pace for 61, just one shy of Francisco Rodríguez’s record.