The Chicago White Sox had a chance to tie the 2004-2005 Atlanta Braves for the most consecutive wins against left-handed starters in MLB history. Instead, the White Sox’s 17-game win streak against lefties ended with a 4-3 loss in extra innings to the Royals on Sunday.
Chicago blew two leads and had an uninspiring 10th inning that wiped away Adam Eaton’s pinch-hit homer heroics. The White Sox fall to 4-5, still unable to improve past a .500 record as first-place Cleveland comes to town on Monday.
It wasn’t a long outing for Dylan Cease, but an effective 4 2⁄3 innings. Cease worked around an error and missed strikeout call that both extended innings, as he allowed an earned run on four hits, three walks and six strikeouts. Whit Merrifield caused problems for the young righthander, striking K.C.’s first hit in the third inning and driving an RBI single with two outs in a three-hit fifth inning that led to Cease’s departure.
Cease showed significant improvement from his four-seamer’s ability to miss bats, eliciting five more whiffs on his four-seamer compared to his first start against the Angels, when he only had an 11% whiff rate with the pitch. He finished with a game score of 57.
Here’s a breakdown of Cease’s 90 pitches:
4-seam fastball: 47% | 3 called strikes + 8 whiffs (33%) | 96.1 mph avg.
Slider: 32% | 5 called strikes + 5 whiffs (45%) | 85.9 mph avg.
Changeup: 12% | 1 called strike + 0 whiffs | 80 mph avg.
Knuckle curve: 9% | 2 called strikes + 1 whiff (100%) | 77.1 mph avg.
Cease only gave up three hard-hit balls (down from nine in his last outing), and two of those came in the fifth inning. Kansas City’s average exit velocity was 91.1 mph.
Despite the White Sox getting into scoring position in three of Mike Minor’s four innings, he only allowed one earned run in his four-inning start. He also gave up four hits and three walks, pitching out of multiple jams. In back-to-back innings, the White Sox couldn’t score with bases loaded and one out, and once again, after Luis Robert hit a leadoff double. He owned a game score of 50.
Minor looked like he was going to let the White Sox blow the game open the whole afternoon, but never did during an 85-pitch outing:
4-seam fastball: 47% | 7 called strikes + 4 whiffs (20%) | 90.6 mph avg.
Slider: 29% | 3 called strikes + 3 whiffs (25%) | 86.6 mph avg.
Knuckle curve: 14% | 0 called strikes + 2 whiffs (40%) | 80.1 mph avg.
Changeup: 9% | 3 called strikes + 1 hiff (33%) | 85.4 mph avg.
The White Sox recorded five hard-hit balls, but went 1-for-5 with a double and reached on an error in those at-bats. They had an average 84.3 mph exit velocity.
Fastest pitch: Josh Staumont reached 99.9 mph, which Robert fouled.
Most swing-and-misses: Cease finished with 14 whiffs.
To no surprise, the most pressure-packed play came in the 10th inning. Andrew Benintendi came to the plate with runners on the corners and one out, facing an at-bat with 5.11 LI. He laid down a poor squeeze bunt, but Garrett Crochet threw a rocket into the dirt that bounced away from Zack Collins and allowed Michael Taylor to score the go-ahead run.
Nick Madrigal’s game-ending ground out had a 5.09 LI, with Nick Williams still standing at second base after the White Sox opened extra innings with two strikeouts.
Adam Eaton pinch-hit for Andrew Vaughn in the eighth inning, but his late insertion into the game was pressure-packed (4.12 pLI). Both of Eaton’s at-bats came with the White Sox trailing. He hit a go-ahead, two-run home run to right field in the eighth, which was his first career pinch-hit homer. He didn’t have the same heroics in the 10th inning, striking out on a high curveball to lead off the inning.
Adam Eaton’s home run also is the pick for top play, swaying the White Sox’s chances of winnings by 45.7 percentage points (.457 WPA).
Adam Eaton wasted no time. PUT IT ON THE BOARD! pic.twitter.com/d17RXKopsC— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 11, 2021
It obviously didn’t last, due to the second-highest WPA play — Carlos Santana’s ninth-inning solo shot (.333 WPA).
Kyle Zimmer’s first save of the season earned him top performer. He struck out Eaton and Collins, and then forced Madrigal to hit a soft grounder (82 mph) to end the inning. Zimmer never let Williams advance past second base.
Eaton (.293 WPA) was the White Sox’s top performer, but also a shout-out to Michael Kopech. He was again brilliant during 2 1⁄3 perfect innings. Kopech (.223 WPA) struck out three batters and forced Benintendi to ground out to end the Kansas City’s fifth-inning threat.
Straight fire from Michael Kopech. pic.twitter.com/SiznGibVwc— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 11, 2021
Yoán Moncada owned the hardest-hit ball, a 107 mph fly out to Michael Taylor in the fifth inning. It had an .810 xBA, which would’ve been especially beneficial considering Yermín Mercedes and Vaughn both walked in the ensuing at-bats. Robert also hit a routine fly ball 104.7 mph.
Santana’s game-tying homer was 104.1 mph, which was the hardest-hit base hit.
Luckiest hit: Madrigal’s single in the fourth inning had a .170 xBA hit at 92.2 mph.
Toughest out: Moncada’s hard-hit ball to center was by far the toughest out, as it owned an .810 xBA. Robert’s line drive (.780 xBA) to end the eighth inning was a close second.
Hardest hit: Moncada’s 107 mph fly out.
Weakest contact: Madrigal’s eighth-inning bunt came off the bat at 38 mph. The softest hit non-bunt belongs to José Abreu, who hit a 60.1 mph single in the seventh.
Longest hit: Santana’s home run went 405 feet. Robert hit a double off the wall that traveled 390 feet for the White Sox.
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
Which White Sox player deserves MVP honors?
This poll is closed
Adam Eaton: 1-for-2, go-ahead HR, 2 RBI, SO
Michael Kopech: 2 1/3 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 SO
Dylan Cease: 4 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 6 SO
Leury Garcia: 1-for-5, 2B, RBI, 2 SO
Who was the White Sox’s Cold Cat in Sunday’s 4-3 loss?
This poll is closed
Aaron Bummer: 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 SO
Liam Hendriks: 1 IP, 1 ER, 2 H (1 HRA), 2 SO
Garrett Crochet: 1 IP, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO
Yoan Moncada: 0-for-5