While hits have been hard to come by in recent Chicago White Sox action, tonight their cold bats were helped by strong pitching. Ultimately, the bullpen blew a lead late, as the club dropped a Cactus League night game, 6-5, to the Cincinnati Reds.
After ending yesterday afternoon’s game with no runs on just five hits in the final eight innings, the White Sox got off to a fast start tonight at Goodyear. Leury García and Yoán Moncada got back-to-back singles, and walks to Yonder Alonso and Daniel Palka would force in the first run of the game.
In the third, José Abreu hit a solo, opposite-field solo homer that just cleared the yellow line to double the lead. In his next at-bat, in the fifth, Abreu doubled the White Sox lead again with another opposite-field home run, this time clearing the fence by plenty. These were his third and fourth home runs of spring training, and he appears ready for the season.
José Abreu doing José Abreu things. pic.twitter.com/0XAhOxMRIs— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 20, 2019
José Abreu doing José Abreu things: Part II pic.twitter.com/ispamRZTss— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 20, 2019
Reynaldo López allowed a double to open the game against Reds top prospect Nick Senzel, but he quickly recovered, retiring the next seven batters he faced. One hiccup was when López walked opposing pitcher Matt Wisler, as control was an issue, and it came back to bite him in the 5th. In that inning, López walked two before giving up a two-out, two-run single to Yasiel Puig. López’s final line was 6 1⁄3 innings, three earned, six hits, three walks and two strikeouts. It also took López just 89 pitches to get through those 6 1⁄3 innings.
Overall, this is a decent line other than the walk/strikeout ratio (sound familiar from López?). Apparently, he and catcher James McCann were calling changeups more frequently tonight, so perhaps some of the control stemmed from the spring work López was getting in, with just one spring start left before the regular season. López also was lucky to escape a jam in the 4th, when Leury García made a running catch on the edge of the warning track to end a runners-on-the-corners, two-out threat. Ideally, López would allow fewer fly balls than he allowed today (again, sound familiar?).
In the 8th, the Reds tied the game 4-4 against reliever Evan Marshall, on an RBI single by José Peraza. However, Dylan Covey managed to get the last two outs of the inning, stranding Peraza and preserving the tie.
White Sox outfielder Zach Remillard, of the Winston-Salem Remillards, was nearly an unlikely hero in this one, driving in the go-ahead run with a single in the top of the 9th.
In the bottom half, Ryan Goins (who came in as a late-inning replacement for Tim Anderson) made a heads-up play to nail the Brandt Stallings, who tried to advance to third on Nick Senzel’s leadoff grounder. (Wait ... out at third on a leadoff fielder’s choice grounder? Yup. Ninth inning tie games in the Cactus League are apparently using the same lame rules as the minor leagues are for extra innings, putting the first batter of the inning automatically on second base. “Cool.”)
Anyway, the wheels came off of Covey after that, as the next three Reds reached base. Covey nailed Stuart Fairchild on a bases-loaded pitch to tie the game. On the very next pitch, Covey missed his target badly against Sherman Johnson, and catcher Alfredo González could not block it. The comeback was complete, enemy Wild Pitch Offense was engaged, and the Reds won, 6-5.
The loss in this battle of the 14th- and 15th-best teams in the Cactus League drops the White Sox’s spring record to 7-15 — not only the worst in all of Arizona, but Florida too!
Chicago returns to Camelback Ranch to face the Arizona D-Backs tomorrow. Ervin Santana is the probable starting pitcher, making his White Sox debut. That game will start at 3:05 p.m. CT and will be available on NBC Sports Chicago (another televised spring training game!). Leigh Allan and His Extraordinary Puns Machine will be on the coverage.