Let’s get the pyrrhic part out of the way first: In the Cleveland eighth, Sox up 6-0, with Tyler Krieger on third and one out, Bradley Zimmer hit a short fly to center. Adam Engel came racing across to grab it and try to make a cross-body throw home. He got tangled up and went down for most of the count. Engel was able to walk off on his own power, limping some, and reportedly has a strained right hamstring, with further evaluation to come Sunday.
As for the game itself, it may be premature to rename Ethan Katz “Kris Kringle” and credit him with the Miracle on 35th Street. While Dylan Cease had looked sharp against the Cubs his first time out this spring, he only got by a woeful Cleveland lineup of scrubs and minor leaguers thanks to some of the famous Cease good fortune national publications have written about. (And keep in mind, offense is not Cleveland’s strength, so we’re talking scrubs of a team whose starting lineup is itself mostly very scrubbish.)
The presumed No. 4 starter walked three, hit two batters, and gave up three hits in 3 2⁄3 innings, saved on the ERA front by two bullets that ended up double plays and a barely-foul blast that reached New Mexico. Cease hit 99 mph on the gun on his first pitch, but his command wasn’t there and his breaking pitches, while occasionally terrific, were often very hittable. When you talk about putting a crooked number on the board, it’s not your starting pitcher’s WHIP you want to be referencing.
Fortunately, Cleveland started Cal Quantrill, who was already on his way to earning a spot in the starting rotation — of the Columbus Clippers, that is. Quantrill got Tim Anderson to ground out and Luis Robert to K, but then came a José Abreu walk, a Yoán Moncada single, and it was off to the races:
Off to a great start. pic.twitter.com/U3Zrg8ZEmj— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 20, 2021
The Sox added two more off Quantrill in the second when Marco Hernandez doubled, Robert walked, and when they tried a double steal Austin Hedges decided to throw to around the left field bullpen. Robert, using his super-speed scored all the way from second (or first, if you want the initial starting locale).
Once Quantrill, left, so did the Sox offense, picking up only three hits the rest of the way against relievers it would be kind to call journeymen. Anderson hit a ground-rule double, which was nice to see given his struggles so far.
As for Sox pitchers, Will Carter bailed out Cease in the fourth and pitched a 1-2-3 fifth. Alex McRae loaded the bases in the sixth on two hit batters and an infield single, only to be saved by a great defensive play by ... well, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, so watch:
Luis Robert let Eloy have one for himself pic.twitter.com/DLkMrxEPGH— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 20, 2021
Cleveland would get two late runs to arrive at the 6-2 final, but the game was never in jeopardy.
So, some offense against a very weak pitcher, some solid pitching against a pathetic offense, but a nice result ... except for Engel’s injury and major regression by Cease.
On the plus side, after Cease and Quantrill threw around 500 pitches in the first inning, dragging the frame on for more than half an hour, the game somehow got done in three hours.
The White Sox visit the Diamondbacks tomorrow, with 3:10 p.m. Central the scheduled start and Hannah LaMotta on the coverage.
Who was the White Sox MVP of Saturday’s 6-2 win over Cleveland?
This poll is closed
Will Carter: 1 1⁄3 IP, K
Marco Hernandez: 2-for-4, 2B, R, 2 K, 3 LOB, SB
Eloy Jiménez: 1-for-3, R, 2 RBI, K, LOB
Alex McRae: 2 IP, 2 H
Yoán Moncada: 2-for-3, R
Who was the White Sox Game Goat of Saturday’s 6-2 win over Cleveland?
This poll is closed
Tim Anderson: 1-for-4, K
Dylan Cease: 3 2⁄3 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 K, WP, 2 HP, W
Luis Robert: 0-for-3, R, 3 K, 2 LOB, SB
José Ruiz: IP, 2 H, ER, WP
Connor Sadzeck: IP, 2 H, ER, 3 K, 2 WP