In the must-win game of 93-win Cleveland’s 2019 season, it was steamrolled by the Chicago White Sox, seeking their 70th victory.
And the man who led them to victory was Daniel Palka, of the .091 hitting — and slugging — Palkas.
SMASH hit two homers, and both were outright muggings:
The loss effectively eliminated Cleveland from the AL first wild card spot and dropped the Wahoos two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second.
Yep, Daniel Palka torpedoed the 2019 Cleveland season. Let that one sink in.
And White Sox fans think we have something to complain about; at least we didn’t seal our competitive window for good in a lopsided loss spearheaded by a .091 slugger.
(Yeah, yeah, I know, ease up, at least Cleveland has been competitive for the last several seasons, went to a World Series, won 93 this year, yup, yup, got it, I know, just gimme this for one night, eh?)
But tonight’s utter walloping was manned by more than mere Palka, but many heroes.
Palka’s first smash made the game 4-0 in the fourth, but it came on the first pitch after James McCann’s cannon blast (18 firings on the year for the almost universally-panned signing, props to Hahn for his finest checkers move of the offseason) off of a fluttering cutter to put the White Sox up, 3-0:
And whoa, major, major props to José Ruiz and Josh Osich for the UNBELIEVABLE work they did under emergency conditions tonight. Warming up in the bullpen mere moments before the White Sox took the field, scheduled starter Dylan Cease tweaked a hamstring (seems minor, but not worth goofing around with, so thank you Dylan for reporting the discomfort and asking out), forcing all bullpen hands on deck.
Ruiz, who had a helluva stretch last week, losing games on a walk-off walk and walk-off hit batsman, manned up, bigtime. Against a desperate team that should have pounced on him like a leopard leaping from the bush, Ruiz scattered three hits over 1 ⅔ innings (31 pitches).
But Ruiz left in the second, with two outs in pocket but singles placing Wahoos on first and second. Enter Osich, whose life immediately went from bad to worse after a Yoán Moncada error packed the sacks with Spiders.
And then, this:
OK, that’s some badass contact on a pretty sweet 0-2 pitch up and away to Francisco Lindor. And Palka’s Depends moment while fielding that screamer was enough to both put a hiccup in your breathing and a nervous giggle in your throat — but bottom line, nada por Las Naps.
Osich went on to throw a total of 51 hitless pitches — that’s 3 ⅓ innings of panicked pen work for the southpaw.
By the time normalcy descended after the Cease crisis, the White Sox sat sassy in the sixth, up 6-0. Against normal game-mode Jimmy Biceps, Jace Fry and Hector Santiago, Cleveland not only failed to shift into third or fourth gear, it couldn’t even start the engine.
I mean: Santiago struck out the side in the ninth. Season slipping away, a preordained division title fading, and 6.93 ERA/1.986 WHIP Hector Santiago struck out the side.
Let’s put this colossal Thursday choke in one more viewfinder for Cleveland. The Sockalexes imitated the White Sox tonight, with 10 Ks and zero walks. Meanwhile the White Sox played (say what) smart offense, to the tune of six walks and a mere eight Ks.
TA went 1-for-4 and dropped to .338 on the season, still leading the majors by nine points and AL by 10. José Abreu went 2-for-5 with his 123rd ribbie, one off pace for the MLB crown but now eight up in the AL fight.
There are two clear candidates for game MVP tonight in my book, but let’s roll out the traditional contest and see who you choose:
Who was the White Sox MVP in tonight’s win?
This poll is closed
José Abreu, 2-for-5, 3B, 123rd RBI
Cleveland’s utterly anemic offensive attack in a must-win game
James McCann, three-run cannon shot to break the ice
Josh Osich, 3 ⅓ hitless innings, 51 pitches, W
Daniel Palka, 2 HR, probably two broken seats in right field
José Ruiz, gutsy last-second call to start the game, 1 ⅔ scoreless opener innings
Tomorrow, the White Sox hope to ride the wave of good vibes stemming from:
- This miracle blowout
- Reaching the 70-win plateau and very realistically improving at least 10 games from 2018
- Utterly gutting Cleveland’s playoff chances with this series win.
And the White Sox get to ride the wave kamikaze style, playing a straight doubleheader against the worst team
in history in 2019, the Detroit Tigers.
The opener tips off at 3:10, moved up due to incoming inclement weather for the weekend. Both Chicago pitchers for the doubleheader are TBD, so more rollercoastering could be on the horizon. Both games on NBCSCH, the opener on WGN but if I’m reading it correctly, game two is not on the radio? Well, I’ll confirm that tomorrow, where there will likely be just a single gamethread for the crazy six hours of ball we’ll be enjoying.