So, José Berrios struck out the side on 13 pitches to start the game against the White Sox.
That Chicago only added eight more Ks to the total over the next eight innings — yeah, that’s one per inning but, really? — was a moral victory.
Unfortunately for the White Sox, moral victories were all that the doubleheader opener would grant, as the Minnesota Twins, just a scant more competent on offense than the Pale Hose, eked out a 2-1 win in front of several thousand very cold daytime baseball makeup game fans.
One fabulous development for the White Sox was yet another strong start from Reynaldo López. He didn’t have his control intact today (five walks), but still managed to suffocate most Minny rallies, even those stoked by López himself.
It was actually López’s fielding that betrayed him in the first inning. He loaded the bases with one out on a Joe Mauer safety, Jake Cave double, and Robbie Grossman walk. Tyler Austin then tapped an 0-1 slider to López’s glove side, a ball he stabbed at and missed as the ball bounced in almost slow-motion past him. Leury García had to throw Austin out at first in bang-bang fashion just to get an out.
The play developed slowly enough that even a swift snag by López might not have stopped Mauer from scoring, but his I’ve-completely-spaced-on-all-those-spring-training-defensive-drills effort on the play rendered the question moot.
Chicago dropped its 27-strikeout pace as quickly as the second inning, but it took until the third for a bonafide rally to start, which I’m going to be honest was way too convoluted to detail, you didn’t miss anything if you didn’t see it. Welington Castillo singled for the first White Sox hit, and with two outs Leury García drove in Tim Anderson with an infield single.
Somewhere mid-game, maybe the fourth, the White Sox hit into enough outs that breaking the season record for strikeouts in this game was no longer in their grasp. (For those brushing up with this illuminating recap prior to the nightcap, Chicago is eight shy of tying the Milwaukee Brewers for the all-time whiffs mark.)
In the sixth, López started a brushfire by walking the bases loaded. Nothing in his postgame comments indicated that he had so well mastered the mound that he was now merely toying with the competition to stay interested, Satchel Paige-style, but he surely seemed to be playing the role. López thwarted Max Kepler with an infield pop, but that brought up morbidly obese ragamuffin Willans Astudillo.
Astudillo is not fond of taking pitches, so natch he flied López’s first pitch to center field, where Adam Engel made the catch but bounced his throw home off the back of the pitcher’s mound, allowing Jake Cave to score the eventual winning run.
In Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit news, they sort of quit today, fairly spectacularly in the case of Avisaíl García, who hit a towering shot to right-center that hit high off the wall for a ... single. García was ticked off at first base, perhaps anticipating that Yosemite Renteria would come lurching out of the dugout, but Daniel Palka picked up his outfield compadre by whiffing ultraefficiently, on three pitches, to rush Avi off the field anyway.
He was replaced by Ryan Cordell in the bottom of the eighth, a move said postgame to be made because of Avi’s knee, not his lack of want-to.
López was the story this afternoon, really the only bright White Sox story of not just today but pretty much the whole of September. He lowered his ERA to 3.91 with this final outing of the year, deservedly heading into the offseason with ace momentum propelling him forward to 2019.