Through five games, the “Change the Game” Chicago White Sox find themselves with a 1-4 record after just being swept by Cleveland. I am forever the optimist and still have all my hope in this team. The Good Guys tallied eight hits and out-hit Cleveland for the second time today. Of course, hits only matter if they turn into runs.
The starting pitching needs work. Managing needs work. I am not a rash person, but in a short season and having the best opportunity to secure a playoff berth for the first time in years, the South Siders must make several moves, and I know you know what moves must be made.
Of course, I will give credit where credit is due. Cleveland was brilliant in these two games. They gave up a lot, but they contained the damage, their pitching gets the job done, and their offense comes alive early. However, the bats seem to die as the game progresses. If Lucas Giolito can come out of the gates strong tomorrow and the offense can put up a few early runs, the game will be Chicago’s to lose.
Carlos Rodón, in his first game back from Tommy John, gave up a three-spot in the first inning, but he did settle down a bit. He put up goose eggs in the second and third, but he loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth. Steve Cishek came in to relieve and gave up a 2-RBI single, so Los was charged with those runs. The main storyline through these five games are starting pitchers not going deep enough because they get off to rocky starts. That has to change.
For Cleveland, Adam Plutko performed very similar to Aaron Civale in the opener. He pitched a quality start, as he went six innings. He gave up only two earned runs, both via solo homer. Cleveland has the pitching starting hot, and that has made all the difference.
The highest pressure occurred in the bottom of the fourth. Cishek entered the game with the bases loaded but two outs. Oscar Mercado, who later robbed Zack Collins of extra bases with a catch against the wall in the eighth, singled to left. This 1.97 LI hit scored two runners and gave Cleveland a 5-1 lead at the time.
Piggybacking off of the pressure play, Cishek faced the highest total pressure in this game. That appearance against Mercado had a major say in it. The 1.29 pLI just beat out Cam Hill’s 1.09 PLI, who was tasked to earn the save in only his second big-league appearance. Hats off to him!
Francisco Lindor earned the top play honors in game one when he recorded a two-run home run in the first. This time, Carlos Santana did the same thing this game and earned the highest WPA on a single play: .122. Early runs are a great confidence boost, and they are a perfect morale crusher for the opposing team who must dig out of an early hole; can the Sox start doing that?
In back-to-back games, Cleveland’s starting pitchers earned the game MVP honors. Plutko had it going for him, and he was simply rolling. He did give up two long balls, but they were only solos, and he contained any offensive bursts.
Magic Number: 5
I like ending on a positive note. Piggbacking once again off of the last Six Pack, Luis Robert earned another a highlight. Going 1-for-4 in this game, he has hit in all five of his major league games, so he has a five-game hit streak going on. Keep it up, Luis! (Best part about that hit? It was a routine ground ball to shortstop that Luis beat out with his WHEELS!)
Nomar Mazara has reported to Schaumburg, so his return could be coming next week, and Eloy Jiménez took batting practice today; he just has to go through all the health protocols, but his return seems to be very imminent.
Let’s hope for a better lineup construction and starting pitching tomorrow!