It was all gloom and doom a day ago, with the bright sounds of The Rutles masking the pain and anguish of a looming September, where the hopes of new, young stars emerging threatened to be overlaid by another march toward 100 losses.
On Tuesday, in a late comeback win over Cleveland, spiked with swell performances by young talents Eloy Jiménez, Dylan Cease and Zack Collins, the pain of Rutland is now forgotten, and September unfurls as bright and fresh again.
What a difference a day makes.
The game got off to a rocky start, as Dylan Cease continued his streak of longballed games by wasting no time and second-pitch homer to Cleveland leadoff man Francisco Lindor.
Jiménez got that run right back, however, with a homer-length clout that hit high off of the wall in left-center, plating Yoán Moncada for the tie:
Cleveland took until the fifth to counterpunch, on an RBI single, and two frames later, look who tied the game, again:
Mike Clevinger’s breaking ball did not bite, and this time Jiménez took the ball out, virtually to the same spot in the park, some 25 feet deeper.
In the bottom of the seventh, White Sox starter Dylan Cease ran into some trouble after whiffing the first two Wahoos of the inning. After two straight walks, he was pulled for Evan Marshall. After two (debatable) balls to Roberto Perez, the catcher turned on a third pitch from Marshall and sent it out, putting Cleveland up, 5-2.
It was a changeup inside and high, so a nifty piece of hitting from Perez. A lot of hitters would be needlessly cautious at 2-0, watching that juicy offspeed “out of the zone” float by. Perez knew he was due for something tasty in a tie game, two down, RBI situation, and he delivered like a White Sox killer should.
Spirits deflated, it did not seem like the Pale Hose would be able to put and keep Cleveland down in this one.
However, in the very next frame, the Chisox went flippy-floppy on what Cleveland had just accomplished. Leury García and Tim Anderson led off the inning with singles, but José Abreu and Moncada followed with whiffs.
Up strode James McCann, and on the first pitch from reliever Carlos Carrasco, he got himself a gift:
That slider just whinged its way to the middle of the plate, and again, credit a backstop for playing smart: After two straight Ks, Carrasco dealing, jump on something quick if tasty and don’t let yourself get down in the count. BOOM! Roasted.
Eloy came up next and looked like a rookie: Too eager to be a hero, he swung at two straight high fastballs, and thank goodness Carrasco wasted one way out and low, or we’d be talking about a different game right now. After ball one and a foul, Carrasco again found too much of the zone, and Jiménez was dialed in for it:
Not sure what’s more amazing there, that Eloy took an excuse-me hack at a hanger and had the strength to take the ball out for an oppo taco, or that the ball appears to have cleared the wall by a foot or less.
Counts the same no matter the clearance, and after Aaron Bummer whiffed all three of his batters in the eighth, Alex Colomé nearly did same (two Ks) with his ninth, earning his 26th saves and a White Sox winner.
In a start contrast to recent games, the White Sox stroked a high percentage of balls for extra bases tonight. Eloy piled up 10 himself, leading a charge of five XBHs among a mere seven Sox hits. In addition to McCann’s dinger, Zack Collins hit his first career triple.
Cease’s final line got jobbed a bit by Marshall coughing up Perez’s homer, so let’s focus on 11 Ks in 6 2⁄3 innings. Those two walks that came in to score on Perez’s round-tripper were Cease’s only two free passes of the night, so he’d entered the seventh with nine Ks and no walks.
Cap-tip as well to Moncada, who picked up his eighth steal and walked three times tonight; the only other free pass drawn by Chicago was by Collins (natch).
It’s a four-game series, so another night tilt on Wednesday. Let’s end things on a bit of a happier note from The Rutles, a living legend that will live long after other living legends have died.