Saturday’s 11-5 blowout at the hands of the Atlanta Braves spelled further doom for the second-half reconnaissance of Chicago White Sox starter Reynaldo López.
López may have seen a bit of a BABIP bounce back to earth in this game, but there was no excuse for his letting the Braves run through the order on him in the first, putting up six runs before Tom Paciorek had his first chance to tell a food joke or make a polka reference. The sequence went single-double-fly-out-passed ball-line out, to get to runners on the corners with two down. A full-count walk to Matt Joyce was the fulcrum to six runs.
What this image tells you is that López may have gotten jobbed on ball four. But is doesn’t tell you that López was struggling with his fastball command on this key at-bat. Heat is López’s meat on the mound, and if he doesn’t have the confidence to blow a batter away with it at this juncture, it’s not a good sign. Pitches No. 5 and 6 in this sequence were 82 mph changeups, and truthfully, López is lucky he’s pitching in an OBP era in baseball, because by any measure Joyce’s eyes should have lit up at López doubling up on changeup cheese over the heart of the plate and sent it flying to Athens.
Still, ball four kept it a tie game, . López then went crazy with the heat on Tyler Flowers, getting the ex-Sox down 0-2 immediately and continuing to pound him. But on pitch No. 6, more heat, López offered the best pitch of the sequence for Flowers, and it was tapped softly to third for out No. 3 — only the grounder hit the third-base bag and Flowers narrowly beat the throw at first.
A light base tap by Rafael Ortega continued López’s misfortune, and then hard-hit balls from Billy Hamilton (ground-rule double) and pitcher Dallas Keuchel (single up the middle) ended López’s outing early for a second straight start.
Like last night, the White Sox battled back in the middle innings, this time rallying to within 7-5 in the seventh, before late bullpenning from Ross Detwiler and Kelvin Herrera widened the gap for Atlanta.
Offensively, the White Sox were better on Saturday, whiffing just three times (no walks) in compiling 13 hits. Unfortunately, only two were for extra bases (doubles from Tim Anderson and Yolmer Sánchez, thus keeping the percentage of slugged hits just about the same as last night’s game.
The White Sox try to avoid the sweep with a 4:10 p.m. getaway game (?) by trotting their ace, Lucas Giolito, out for the WGN TV and radio game.