That the Chicago White Sox were only slightly more dreadful than their crosstown rivals in Friday’s 11-9 descent into madness provides little recompense. After all, it was a game that, at least from the pitching end, would have been better suited for February play, not a tuneup 10 days from Opening Day.
Lucas Giolito started and, as is his spring wont, came away positive with his effort. He was particularly pleased with the feel of his curve, some “10 times” better than it was a year ago, per comments postgame. And he did whiff seven Cubs over five innings — including four in the first frame, courtesy of a dropped third.
But before Giolito walks away to the whirlpool too slap-happy, the lanky righthander still surrendered two (solo) homers, six hits, two walks and four earned runs over those five innings. Perhaps such postgame pride is a boon of diminished expectations.
Problem was, unlike other outings for Giolito this spring, his bullpen did little bail him out today. We may be entering official bunchy-underwear territory with last year’s rookie southpaw phenom Jace Fry, who subbed for Giolito in the sixth and failed to survive the frame, giving up two earned, two hits, and a homer before getting the hook.
“Previously Teflon” Dylan Covey applied a touch more lighter fluid to the flaming wreck at Camelback Ranch, surrendering an RBI single to his first batter, Albert Almora, and promptly whiffing on a pickoff throw against pinch-runner Wyton Bernard. Covey only escaped the inning thanks to Leury García, who fielded a second straight hit, David Bote’s single, and nailed Bernard trying to score. In the seventh, Covey surrendered three more singles and two runs, ending the outing having given up five hits and two earned in 1 1⁄3 innings.
The good side of the White Sox surrendering eight runs in the first seven innings was that the Cubs did same. After a James McCann RBI single got the hometown heroes on the board in the third, Yoán Moncada took a first-pitch, outer-half changeup from northside $20 million southpaw Cole Hamels deep to left field for a three-run bomb that put the White Sox up, 4-3. Oh, and hell yeah, Nancy Faust was on hand to tickle the ivories, attempting to coax a curtain call outta Yoán with a “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)” straight outta 1977.
Moncada has shown some prodigious production from the right side this spring, and jumping on first-pitch changeup cheese from Hamels is a reflection of his increased aggression at the plate. Tentatively, pencil Moncada in for far fewer caught lookings this season.
After the Cubs tied the game back up in the fourth, Brandon Guyer tapped an RBI safety to drive in Adam Engel in the bottom half, putting the White Sox back up, 5-4.
Finally, after the Cubs pushed ahead with their clubbing of Covey, the baby Sox took over and rallied to tie in the bottom of the seventh. After Zack Collins led off with a K came three straight hits, trailed by a Laz Rivera double, to get one run on the board. After Danny Mendick was cut down at home on a Nick Madrigal tapper to third for the second out, Luis Robert got all clutch again, with a double down the left-field line to plate two and knot the game, 8-8.
And that’s where Nate Jones game in. Our lead SSS sassmouth, the unknown comic known as @SouthSideSox, explains today’s Nate Jones Experience succinctly:
Leave it to Meltdown Mode Nate to invent a new horrible pitcher metric, the double walk. https://t.co/dE3TVVcEoT— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) March 15, 2019
It was sorta ugly: as Daryl (sorta) said, the dance card went single-homer-double-walk and by golly, justlikethat the White Sox were down, 10-8, Jones failing to record an out before Ricky hooked him. Ryan Burr, entering a house on fire, got Zack Short to whiff and then benefitted from another dumb Cubbie baserunning blunder (Kyle Schwarber — I repeat, Kyle Schwarber — was cut down on a 2-1 count with one out, the lead runner in a double steal attempt), as Jared Young learned not the lessons of his forebears and was likewise erased at third base in a steal attempt. Burr almost parlayed such dopiness into a miracle act of firefighting, but alas latest Theo Epstein bronzing project Nico Hoerner doubled in a run, making the game 11-8.
In the bottom of the ninth, after another three straight hits with one out (capped by a Madrigal RBI single), Robert stepped to the plate as the winning run, having pulled this act twice already (with dingers) in his two South Side springs. But La Pantera had little growl in him in the end, grounding into a game-ending, 6-4-3 double play.
Other, random highlights from the ballgame:
- Two hits apiece from José Abreu, Guyer, Rivera (serving some notice that, dudes, just keep overlooking me, I’ll be playing for a roster spot in a year’s time), Mendick and McCann.
- Six of nine RBI on the afternoon came with two out.
- Burr, all but assured himself of heading north with the club, between his steely outing in the eighth and Juan Minaya getting the heave-ho outta camp and down to Triple-A after a rough spring.
- Alex Colomé, had a one-hit, scoreless ninth, without the benefit of any Cubbie baserunning foppery. He had a brief injury scare while taking a tumble attempting to field Taylor Davis’ infield single, but shrugged it off like a badass hombre and coaxed a 3-unassisted outta Bernard.
Despite an uneven spring, the White Sox fall to just 7-11, four games worse than those gilded ivy bumblers in Cactus play. Just imagine if the two teams are within four games of one another when the games are for real, this summer.
Tomorrow brings another matinee in front of a sellout Camelback crowd, this time hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers. Iván Nova attempts to right the ship against a heretofore-unknown but utterly seventies B-movie looking L.A. hurler named Tony Gonsolin. Tune in at WhiteSox.com or NBC Sports Chicago to catch all the funky bass rocking the park as Gonsolin pitches, before the White Sox bats knock him west to a Hollywood back lot. Game’s at 3:05 CT sharp, pardners.