Sorry, but we have to start with home plate ump Gabe Morales. I’m 74 and I’ve seen a lot of baseball games, including coaching a few hundred youth and teen games, but I have never — never, ever — seen a worse job of calling balls and strikes than Morales did today.
Note this is not a case of “we wuz robbed,” of sour grapes that our team got the short end of the calls. There wasn’t a batter or a pitcher on either Sox who didn’t suffer from at least a few terrible calls, as Morales’ strike zone roamed more than Marco Polo. That also means there wasn’t a batter or a pitcher who didn’t benefit from the crummy officiating, but none of them had a chance to know what the next call might be.
Morales did a horrible, horrible job. Even Jason and Stoney, who seldom get on umps for more than a call or two, were aghast at how bad Morales was. It’s not that it was bad for the Good Sox — it was bad for baseball.
Fortunately, in the end it wasn’t a matter of terrible calls, as Marwin González broke a 3-3 tie with a homer off Codi Heuer in the bottom of the eighth, after which the Red Sox got bunches of hits and walks off Heuer and José Ruiz and tallied three more times. A lone White Sox run in the ninth, on a blatant error that a very kindly official scorer — maybe a relative of Morales? — called a single for Andrew Vaughn, and an Adam Eaton double.
The game was mercifully over in a mere 3:36. I believe I called the length accurately when I saw Nick Pivetta and Dylan Cease were starting.
The Good Sox had gotten off to a 2-0 lead in the first off Pivetta, who had enough trouble finding the strike zone without Morales handing a walk to Eaton on what should have been a K. That was followed by a four-pitch walk to Yoén Moncada, bringing José Abreu to the plate.
In a game where the teams were often as sloppy as the umpiring — well, nobody could match that sloppiness — both teams left the bases loaded in the second, with Moncada sending a 407-foot shot at a grand slam, but to a point in Fenway where he had to hit it about 410.
In the bottom of the inning, Eaton engaged in a little home run theft of Rafael Devers.
Hits homers. Robs homers. Adam Eaton can do it all! pic.twitter.com/QNb0EjyLgr— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 17, 2021
Cease couldn’t hold the lead, giving up two in the third, and left in the fifth — he hasn’t made it through a fifth inning yet — after throwing 85 pitches, 56 of them strikes. Cease gave up six hits and three walks and was probably fortunate Piveta was even worse.
Evan Marshall gave up a run in the sixth and the Red Sox returned the favor the next inning, when Tim Anderson singled, stole second and got to third when the throw went gaily into the outfield, then scored on a Moncada sac fly.
Then it was on to the disaster of the eighth. Heuer had struck out the side in the seventh, but got way too much plate against González and then gave up two more singles. Ruiz completed the fiasco with three walks and a double. Fortunately, a bizarre Tony La Russa decision to intentionally walk the bases full with a wild pitcher on the mound ended up OK, so maybe that’s why he’s a Hall-of-Famer baseball person.
All told, White Sox pitchers needed 164 pitches to get through eight innings, which will happen when you give up six walks, albeit with a wandering strike zone.
On the good news side, the struggling Abreu had two hits, as did Luis Robert.
And, then there was the battle of Yerminator vs. The Green Monster. The Yerminator drew first blood, sending a liner low off the wall, but, alas, he forgot that he is more of a Mercedes diesel truck than an SL Class roadster and got thrown out trying for second.
That battle can resume tomorrow, during the split doubleheader, first game at 12:10 Central, second at 4:10, both set for seven innings. Hannah LaMotta has the opener for SSS, Colleen Sullivan the nightcap.