That wasn’t the start anyone was hoping for, as all three phases on the field struggled at certain points. But even after a lifeless, 6-1 loss in Game 1 to the Astros, the White Sox can head back to Chicago in good shape if they can pick up a win on Friday. I came into this series hoping for a split in Houston to take home-field advantage, and that’s still possible. It’s important not to lose sight of that, at least.
Lance Lynn’s struggles against the Astros once again became quickly apparent, with wild pitches, poor defense and leadoff walks leading to a shaky 3 2⁄3 innings. After a flawless first inning, the Astros jumped on him for five earned runs on six hits and two walks.
A lot will be made of Yoán Moncada’s late throw home in the third inning, choosing the riskier option instead of getting the sure out at first. But he was in that position due to Lynn’s second straight leadoff walk, along with a wild pitch that moved José Altuve to third base with one out. How much does that inning change without that throw home — but also, without that wild pitch?
With or without Moncada’s controversial throw home, it wasn’t the peak Lynn that White Sox fans have become accustomed to seeing. He fell behind batters and gave up eight hard-hit balls, including five straight batted balls topping 100 mph before being pulled in the fourth inning.
He struck out a pair of batters with both his cutter and 4-seam fastball, but the Astros crushed his 4-seamer in seemingly every other at-bat. They recorded four of their six hits against that pitch, including Michael Brantley’s two-run single that essentially ended the game in the fourth inning.
Lynn threw a fastball in 74 of 76 pitches. In other words, the Astros are indeed a very good fastball-hitting team. Lynn trusted his sinker slightly more than the 19.1% of the time he threw it during the regular season, though didn’t elicit a swing-and-miss. It’s partly why Lynn didn’t get close to his 26.3% whiff rate.
Lynn’s game score was 35.
Here’s Lance McCullers Jr.’s pitching line after three starts against the White Sox this season: 19.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 8 K, 6 BB
The White Sox haven’t figured out how to hit the breaking ball-heavy starter. Hard contact was nearly nonexistent, as soft grounders replaced Chicago’s usual base hits. McCullers forced 11 ground outs and held the South Siders to five hard-hit balls, including two through the first six innings. The White Sox were patient at the plate, but it didn’t yield better results until McCullers’ final inning. McCullers recorded two strikeouts with his knuckle curve, though gave up two hits with each of his slider and sinker.
He had a lower whiff rate than his 30.2% during the regular season, despite his arsenal mirroring his season averages.
McCullers’ game score of 76 received a standing ovation from the Houston faithful.
There weren’t a lot of high-leverage situations in the later innings, but Lynn recorded the biggest out of the contest. He jammed Kyle Tucker on the first pitch for the second out of the second inning, which garnered a 2.01 LI. However, the next at-bat didn’t go as well (scroll down).
No one faced more pressure than Lynn, who personally clocked in at 0.96 pLI. It was mostly self-induced, though. A pair of leadoff walks didn’t help against a deep Astros lineup.
The Astros never trailed, and the game turned in the second inning. Rookie Jake Meyers singled home Yordan Álvarez for the game’s first run. The hit had a .107 WPA.
To no surprise, McCullers’ gem earned him top honors. He had a .237 WPA.
Luis Robert (.034 WPA) was the White Sox’s top player. He finished 2-for-3 and also reached on an error.
Luckiest hit: Michael Brantley’s goal on Thursday was to beat the Chicago’s shift. He tried to bunt for a hit in the third inning, but it ended up being a sacrifice. Then, in the sixth, Brantley reached by hitting to the left side for a single, despite owning a .080 xBA.
Toughest out: Martín Maldonado smoked a 103 mph fly ball into deep right-center field. Luis Robert was able to chase down the second out of the fourth inning, which had a .780 xBA.
Hardest hit: The White Sox barely made hard contact, but that didn’t stop Robert from having his gamely “Holy cow!” moment. In a 6-0 hole, he laced a 111.1 mph liner into left field for a single. It didn’t change the game, but after six dreadful innings, even a single brought me some joy.
Weakest contact: Robert’s check-swing turned into an error — but it should’ve been ruled a single — to start the fifth inning. It trickled off his bat at 54.3 mph down the third base line, as he sprinted to beat a high Alex Bregman throw.
Longest hit: Álvarez padded Houston’s lead with a 411-foot blast to extend the deficit to 6-0 in the fifth inning. He hit it 104.8 mph off of Reynaldo López.
Magic Number: 2
Through the first six innings, the White Sox had two hard-hit balls. They came from the No. 8 and 9 hitters in Adam Engel and Leury García, who both grounded out. Obviously, that can’t happen if the White Sox want to win in the playoffs.
Hard-hit is any ball off the bat at 95 mph or more
LI measures pressure per play
pLI measures total pressure faced in game
Whiff a swing-and-miss
WPA win probability added measures contributions to the win
xBA expected batting average
Who was the White Sox MVP of Game 1?
This poll is closed
Yoán Moncada: 1-for-3, BB, fielding miscue, .010 WPA
José Abreu: 2-for-4, RBI, -.014 WPA
Luis Robert: 2-for-3, ROE, .034 WPA
Bullpen: 4 1⁄3 IP, ER, 4 H, 5 K, BB
Who was the White Sox Cold Cat during Game 1?
This poll is closed
Lance Lynn: 3 2⁄3 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 4 K, 2 BB, -.243 WPA
Yasmani Grandal: 0-for-4, K, GIDP, -.078 WPA
Eloy Jiménez: 1-for-4, 2 K, -.053 WPA
Gavin Sheets: 0-for-4, 2 K, -.051 WPA
South Side Sox Roll Call
Predictably, the gamethread was huge, with 506 comments from 47 commenters. Tops for Game 1 was AnoHito, at 68.
|9||There is still poop on the Dallas Star||21|
|14||Right Size Wrong Shape||13|
|17||Kongming, Sleeping Dragon||10|
|20||David John Craven||7|
|43||Dave in the basement||1|
|47||Mark P. Liptak||1|
Schoolly_D topped all 506, with an eight-rec comment to go deep green.
Overall, 13 green comments today!