It was quite the odd start for the Chicago White Sox in tonight’s game.
Odd in the sense that the White Sox jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Cleveland ace Trevor Bauer. After Leury Garcia reached base, Yoan Moncada crushed a two-run home run.
Yeah, that was seriously crushed. It is obvious why Moncada is in the 97th percentile for average exit velocity per Baseball Savant.
The White Sox were not done, though. Not even close — especially Moncada.
In the third, Moncada hit a fly all the way near the warning track that easily scored Charlie Tilson for run three. Tilson singled before that, in his first at-bat on the year, and in the third came his first run, courtesy of Moncada.
James McCann kept his hot streak going and it even got in-game interviewee Zack Collins to ask how much hotter could McCann get. McCann’s fourth homer was just obliterated, as all Bauer could do was just watch it leave the park quickly.
After McCann, Moncada was back to clobbering baseballs — and driving in Tilson. This time, Tilson had hit a double, his first extra-base hit for the big club in 2019. Moncada, again, barely missed a home run, as his batted ball went off the wall for an RBI double.
Unfortunately, the White Sox snuffed their own rally with some bad baserunning. First, Leury Garcia was gunned down at home plate on a very aggressive send from Nick Capra. Next, Moncada was out in an inning-ending double play because of what seemed like what might be generously termed a hit-and-run.
While all this unexpected scoring was going on, Ivan Nova was doing pretty well. He was keeping the ball down in the zone, especially with his sinker. Nova was getting hit, but thanks to a timely double play and generally weak contact, the damage was minimized. What is also a good sign is the velocity gain Nova had on May 1 continued in this game. Both the sinker and four-seam fastball played up to 93 mph, two ticks faster than it was in April per Brooks Baseball. However, eventually Nova did run into too much trouble to keep the shutout going, allowing a run in the fifth.
But for Trevor Bauer, his day was almost done. Down 5-1 going into the sixth inning, Bauer continued to get hit hard, right up until Tim Anderson. With the bases loaded, Anderson sent a little dribbler up the middle and off of Francisco Lindor’s glove to plate two. It was the best possible use of 69 mph exit velocity contact.
Timmy was not done though. He swiped his 12th bag of the year and forced a bad throw from the catcher, Roberto Perez. Nicky Delmonico, who was on third, coasted to home for the eighth run of the game for the Sox.
Nova’s fifth-inning trouble with hittable pitches continued into the sixth, as his pitch count rose beyond 90. He was able to escape the inning with no runs allowed, but the end was seemingly near for Nova.
Yet Nova came out for the seventh, and spelled the bullpen with a solid inning. Nova remains the only Sox pitcher to complete seven innings in a game this season. Overall, Nova left without showing much swing-and-miss, only five total in the game, and none of his pitches boasted more than 12.5% swing-and-miss, but the weak contact got the job done. Before Nova was officially taken out, the Sox added one more run, via a Yolmer Sanchez single.
Ryan Burr came in for Nova on the very the day he was activated from injured list. In a sort of rehab, starting in an extremely low leverage situation, Burr’s fastball was slightly quicker this game than before the IL stint, at 96.1 mph. Like Nova, Burr didn’t have a lot of swing-and-miss, (just one), but he was successful.
After a scoreless ninth for the Sox, Juan Minaya came in to close out the game. The White Sox seem to be using him a lot early on. Minaya did allow two runners to reach base, but he stranded both to end the win at 9-1. Minaya’s velo for the fastball was at 94 mph in this one, which is still down about one MPH compared to last season.
Overall, the Sox hitters had a blast, with 13 hits. Five of them were extra-base hits, two from Moncada. If not for the much-needed seven strong from from Ivan Nova, Moncada would have been the MVP of the game, with a 2-for-4 performance and four RBI. In his first game back in the bigs, Charlie Tilson also went 2-for-4, and scored two runs for a cool .500 average and a 1.250 OPS so far in his 2019 season.
It was a fun night of baseball. Finally.