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White Sox grab the lead late, and hold it for a 6-3 victory

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Daniel Palka’s bomb put Chicago ahead, and the high-leverage bullpen guys shut down the Diamondbacks

MLB: Chicago White Sox-Media Day
Smashing time: Daniel Palka mashed his first home run of the spring, giving the White Sox a 4-3 lead.
Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

It was a strange start for the Chicago White Sox in the top of the first against Luke Weaver and the Diamondbacks. Off the bat, the Sox got the first two runners on board, Leury Garcia with a walk and Moncada with a sharp single.

After two outs were made, Moncada broke to second, and García scored on a throwing error by catcher John Ryan Murphy trying to nail Moncada. That error enabled Garcia to score.

Unfortunately, Luke Weaver was able to shut down White Sox bats for the rest of his outing, which ended after six innings pitched with five strikeouts, two walks, and two hits allowed. A very successful night. Tim Anderson got the other hit off of Weaver.

On the other side, though Ervin Santana did not run into trouble, he was not overly sharp. In five innings, he allowed two runs on four hits, along with two walks. That is not overwhelming, and neither were his pitches: Statcast had Santana at 90-91 mph on his fastball, which is better than last season’s but still well slower than 2017. Santana heavily relied on his changeup and breaking pitches, which is very James Shields-like.

After Santana left after five innings with the Sox down 2-1, Nate Jones allowed a home run on the first batter, Jake Lamb, who was hitting under .200 coming into the game. Jones didn’t necessarily improve for the rest of the inning, as he allowed one hit and walk. Thanks to two strikeouts, however, he was able to escape with just the home run allowed.

Here comes the fun part: the top of the 7th. Your $43 million dollar man, Eloy Jimenez, was able to drive in Jose Abreu with a single. In the very next at-bat, Daniel Palka took Yoshihisa Hirano deep for a two-run bomb to cap the three run inning and take a 4-3 lead. With the addition of Yonder Alonso, Palka does not have much of a role to rely on at DH, thus his bat will need to carry him more than last season to warrant a full-time job in the outfield. That means he’ll need to hit a lot more dingers than what he did this spring: one. At the seventh-inning stretch, most of the starters were replaced.

Here is a quick game break, featuring Ervin Santana:

Kelvin Herrera took over for Jones and pitched a perfect inning with two strikeouts. His fastball was running 94-96 mph which is slower than his average of 97.3 mph in 2018. Herrera did have a late start to spring training, so there might not be concern.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Sox continued to add runs, this time with the minor leaguers: Danny Mendick doubled in Charlie Tilson, and is now hitting .353. A cameo appearance was made by Luis Gonzalez, who quickly he drove in Mendick from second.

All the top arms out of the bullpen made an appearance for the Sox, as Jace Fry took over for Herrera. He mostly worked with his cutter/slider and curveball, which is what he should be doing. Fry was able to work through the eighth after allowing a leadoff single, by coaxing a strikeout and double play. He has not had an awe-inspiring spring (8.00 ERA), but from previous appearances, Fry has his stuff ready.

After the Sox were not able to increase their lead in the bottom half of the eighth, Alex Colomé came in for the save. Colomé had been the Tampa Bay Rays closer — and a very successful one, with 95 saves in just more than two seasons. Colomé was relying on his fastball and cutter in this one, and their velocities where right at his 2018 averages. The righthander was able to get the save, but only after allowing two batters on base.