On Tuesday, after a stirring Lucas Giolito win chasing a numbingly solid performance from Iván Nova, with both starters pushing past the seven-inning mark, Chicago White Sox fans could dare to dream.
After all, they were picking on a Cleveland team seemingly devoid of offensive capability, getting hot in a division rival’s ballpark at just the right time, with a righty power arm in Reynaldo López and sneaky question-mark of a young lefty (aka Manny Bañuelos) still to throw before the four-game series saw its end. Two more wins, the .500 mark, and a tie for second place in the Central with these very same Wahoos seemed within reach.
On Wednesday, a body blow of a José Ramírez walk-off homer cancelled the postgame show on a series sweep. And today, a truncated, muddy game and tourniquetted outing from that sneaky, question-mark lefty left the White Sox without even a series win.
The finale from the brownest city in America was 5-0, Wahoos, and unfortunately the game was not nearly as close as that final score.
Cleveland got all they’d end up needing just five batters into the game, when Jordan Luplow homered deep into the power alley in left-center, some 10 or 15 rows up. Bañuelos started Luplow with a dirty curveball low, snuck a sneaky slider in to even the count, then grooved a juicy dripper of a 92 mph fastball that Luplow turned into a no-doubter.
In the fifth, when there was still hope that the White Sox might sprint ahead of both the rains and the Wahoos with productive later innings, Luplow took a 2-1 Bañuelos offering and deposited it far, far, far gone, up in someplace called Heritage Park. I ate a burrito there once, in the dawning era of what was then Jacobs Field. I have a picture somewhere. Really. It was with my dad. We were touring all the ballparks. Jacobs was a pretty nice one. We played catch on an urban patch of grass in-between Jacobs Field and Quicken Arena. I don’t like Cleveland much, but the park was pretty all right. Anyway, it was a long way to home plate from Heritage Park.
There is some dispute between Gameday and the Cleveland broadcast whether Bañuelos tossed a slider or a changeup at Luplow. Now, I am no pitch doctor (although I do play on on the interweb), but when there is confusion between your slider or changeup, it may be time to tinker with the delicious rolling movement of the former.
It is important to note at this juncture, in a truncated story of a tourniquetted game, that we speak of Jordan Luplow, with a name like a Simpsons character and a season line like an overmatched Double-A second baseman. Luplow, of the .300 slugging Luplows, hit his first two home runs of the season today against Bañuelos, a southpaw he will no doubt be sending a gift basket at Christmastime.
Let’s put it another way, because this languid prose isn’t driving you quickly enough to drink: Today, a punch-and-judy right fielder named [checks notes] Jordan Luplow hit 25% of his career home runs, 846 feet worth of them, in fact.
Luplow’s mashed taters were sandwiched around a Bañuelos wild-pitch offense run in the second, and made the game 3-0. The terse and tense lefthander would not survive the fifth inning, however; after Luplow said no to Bañuelos, Carlos González slapped a single to left on 0-2, Jake Bauers doubled to right at 1-2, and Roberto Perez grounded an RBI single back out to Nicky D on 0-1. Bañuelos had trouble putting Wahoos away today, so with one out in the fifth, they put him away.
Francisco Lindor doubled one out into reliever Josh Osich’s appearance, scoring a run and ending today’s tally at 5-0. And when I say “doubled,” I mean, Charlie Tilson tripped over his golden ticket on the way toward catching a fly ball in right field on wet, rainy grounds, tumbling in somewhat vaudevillian fashion, and giving Lindor the biggest gift of an RBI double that is possible in the game of base-ball.
Credit Tilson for still nearly catching the ball, and for his brutally-unfair, tousled good looks.
The Pale Hose mustered two hits on the day, a single from José Abreu and a double from Yonder Alonso. Indeed, Carlos Carrasco completely handcuffed Ricky’s Boys with six Ks over five innings. Carrasco entered the game scuffling at a 5.60 ERA, and even a rain-shortened suffocation like his hands around Chicago’s neck today winnowed that obese ERA down to a portly 4.91.
This afternoon, the White Sox’s get-up-and-go got up and went. Ah well, we’ll always have those dizzy moments late on Tuesday, when Chicago’s starters were dominant, its bats were potent, and love, even for our bunt-happy garden gnome of a field manager, was thick in the air.
The Chisox death march to 90 losses resumes tomorrow night, when Dylan (don’t call me an Opener and by, the way, hey DJ, I thought you said we had a deal) Covey takes the mound in the Great White North. Take off, eh, and watch the ballgame. It’s a 6:07 p.m. CT start, you hoser. The World’s Greatest Network has both the telecast and radiocast, so grab yerself a bear claw and hunker down for a doozy. Three-time 2019 and returning #SoxMath champeen Ashley Sanders is on the coverage.