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Best of the spring collection: White Sox 9, Brewers 5

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Rodón with a terrific start, Covey with a perfect finish

Chicago White Sox v San Francisco Giants
Long shot: No one’s given Dylan Covey much of a chance for the No. 5 starter spot, but he’s been pretty much perfect so far this spring.
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

It’s been a rough offseason for Chicago White Sox fans. But Thursday’s 9-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers was a bit of balm for what’s been ailing us — arguably the best game of the spring so far.

Starter Carlos Rodón got things started right, with four innings of scoreless, one-hit ball, facing just 14 batters (one walk, three strikeouts).

Rodón departed with a 1-0 lead and in line for his second victory of the spring, courtesy of a Leury García RBI single in the second. García has had a solid spring and is making a strong case to be Chicago’s swiss army knife player, getting starts most every night at any number of four or five positions. And as steely said in the gamethread, perhaps at some point Leury plays well enough to get the “L.” removed from his jersey nameplate.

Nate Jones entered the game in the fifth, and was immediately hit hard. First, the fireballer vet was literally rocked by a Cory Spangenberg shot back up through the box; fortunately, Jones made the kick save off his foot to Yoán Moncada at third, who threw Spangenberg out. After an injury delay to administer a few smelling salts to Jones’s big toe, the reliever offered up a gopher ball to ex-teammate Tyler Saladino, today manning left field for the Crew. Game tied, 1-1.

But Saladino’s tying home run only served to make the White Sox bats angry. In the bottom of the frame, Jon Jay singled in Yolmer Sánchez (who’d walked and advanced on a poor pickoff attempt), was pushed to third by a Moncada righty double, then scored on a José Abreu fly out.

In the sixth inning, the White Sox extended their lead by two more runs, despite missing a chance to blow the game wide open. Charlie Tilson, pinch-running for James McCann after the catcher singled, scored on a García double, and one out later Tim Anderson singled in García. TA, who still holds a .500 batting average on the spring with two more hits today, stole his first base of the spring, and the sacks were eventually packed after a Yolmer HBP and Yoán walk. But with the bases loaded, Abreu grounded out, keeping the game at 5-1.

The seventh inning is where stuff got pretty nutty. Nicky Delmonico subbed in on defense, replacing wonderboy Eloy Jiménez in left field. One out into the inning, Delmonico went full Pete Reiser into the left-field wall on a Manny Piña fly, knocking himself silly as Piña circled the bases. It was a scary moment, as Delmonico had hit the fence with such exit velocity he forced open a door in the wall.

“From what we heard, he hit the gate so hard that it popped the gate. Broke it. And then there was an exposed pole that he hit his head on pretty good,” Scott Merkin quoted Brewers manager Craig Counsell saying after the game. “Pretty scary. The guys in the bullpen said he hit his head pretty hard.”

While that was a terrible turn for the star-crossed Delmonico, it was not the best way to start the spring for Ian Hamilton, either. The inside-the-parker may have been a fluke, but quite rightly Spangenberg singled and Saladino doubled, to bring tying run Troy Stokes to the plate. And Stokes indeed tied the game, with a home run over new left fielder Preston Tucker’s head.

But in the same way the White Sox punched Milwaukee in the mouf in 2018’s regular season, they did so this afternoon. After the stretch, Chicago commenced to put its final four runs on the board, courtesy of a Ryan Cordell RBI single, and a Danny Mendick three-run clout (excuse Mendick’s fab defensive play preceding his booming shot out to left):

Mendick was inked in as the starting shortstop in the earlier B game on the back fields at Camelback, and if indeed he saw action this morning, this clout came in his nightcap game of the day, after subbing in for Sánchez at second base.

Like Leury, Mendick is having himself a hell of a spring. He may make José Rondón expendable; we’ve all hand-wrung over Rondón having to clear waivers if he doesn’t make the cut north with the White Sox, but Mendick’s early returns are creating a bit of a no-lose, flip-a-coin proposition for the White Sox when it comes to first infielder off the bench or up from Charlotte.

Entrusted with a four-run lead, Dylan Covey took over in the eighth and polished off the Brewers with two perfect innings.

The White Sox improved to 4-8, and head to Tempe for a game tomorrow against the Angels. Manny Bañuelos gets his redemption start, with rising star Jimmy Lambert the first arm out of the bullpen.

I believe it’s an MLB.TV game, but with an Angels broadcast. Head honcho and lead fundraiser Brett Ballantini will man the gamethread and recap for you on that one.