Now, that’s the way to start a doubleheader. The White Sox never trailed in a 3-2 win over the Red Sox in the first game of Sunday’s twin bill. They literally led from the first pitch thanks to Tim Anderson, and squashed all of Boston’s rallies.
It was a typical Dallas Keuchel start, and one the White Sox can live with. Keuchel gave up seven hard-hit balls, only recorded one strikeout and made his living with eight ground outs. He retired Boston’s first seven batters and extinguished any semblance of a rally in the fifth inning with a nice double play started by Yoán Moncada.
Sure, Keuchel gave up a home run to Enrique Hernández to open the sixth inning that forced Tony La Russa to take him out of the game, but that was more due to Fenway Park’s short right field, as the homer had a .070 xBA. Think of it as Boston getting rewarded for Bobby Dalbec’s should-have-been home run being robbed by the Green Monster a couple of innings earlier.
Keuchel’s five-inning start saw him allow two earned runs on six hits and striking out one batter. He had three swing-and-misses. Keuchel finished with a game score of 47.
Here’s a breakdown from his 67-pitch start:
Sinker: 48% | 5 called strikes + 1 whiff (8%) | 88.5 mph avg.
Changeup: 31% | 2 called strikes + 2 whiffs (22%) | 80.8 mph avg.
Cutter: 21% | 3 called strikes + 0 whiffs | 85.9 mph avg.
Tanner Houck gave up plenty of hard contact, but for the second straight game, it didn’t always translate into hits or runs for the White Sox. Anderson hit a home run on the first pitch Houck threw — a 106.5-mph long ball over the right field fence — and that was the first of nine hard-hit balls Houck conceded. In fact, the White Sox recorded six hard-hit balls the first time through the order.
Chicago hustled down the line for a couple of infield singles and José Abreu flashed his wheels by scoring from first on Yasmani Grandal’s double, but it also saw a lot of hard contact die at the warning track or hit right at Boston’s defenders. Houck exited after 4 1⁄3 innings, allowing three earned runs, six hits and striking out a pair of batters. He had a game score of 41.
Here’s a breakdown of his 58-pitch outing:
Slider: 40% | 3 called strikes + 6 whiffs (50%) | 84.3 mph avg.
4-seam fastball: 34% | 3 called strikes + 0 whiffs | 95.2 mph avg.
Sinker: 21% | 3 called strikes + 0 whiffs | 93.7 mph avg.
Splitter: 5% | 0 called strikes + 0 whiffs | 88.4 mph avg.
The White Sox had an average exit velocity of 85.8 mph against the Boston starter.
Fastest pitch: Houck threw the two fastest pitches, at 97.6 and 97.2 mph. He edged Liam Hendriks, whose fastest pitch clocked in at 97 mph.
Most swing-and-misses: To no surprise, Houck doubled Keuchel’s swing and miss total, 6-3. The Boston starter had an 18% whiff rate. Hendriks (33% whiff rate) and Boston reliever Phillips Valdez each had three whiffs, as well.
The White Sox bullpen came through in high-pressure situations, albeit ones they created. In the sixth inning, as the Red Sox trailed 2-1, J.D. Martinez stepped to the plate with no outs and a runner on first. He grounded into a double play against Aaron Bummer. The play recorded a 3.84 LI.
Liam Hendriks faced the second-highest pressure play when he struck out Bobby Dalbec to end the game. It had a 3.67 LI.
No one faced more pressure than Liam Hendriks, who owned 3.01 pLI. He notched his second save with the White Sox, though did bring the tying run to the plate after giving up a two-out single.
Enrique Hernández’s home run to cut the White Sox lead in half had a .145 WPA. It edged Yasmani Grandal’s RBI-double (.135 WPA) and Hunter Renfroe’s RBI-single (.134 WPA) in the fourth inning.
There were a lot of big performances by the White Sox, but Liam Hendriks’ 0.22 WPA makes him the top performer. He protected the White Sox’s one-run lead in the ninth inning, throwing 16 pitches and striking out one batter.
Tim Anderson (0.18 WPA) narrowly finished second. He went 3-for-4 with a home run.
Luckiest hit: Not often is a home run the luckiest hit, but Enrique Hernandez’s sixth-inning bomb had a .070 xBA. To put that in perspective, this game had four balls hit slower than 52 mph with higher xBAs.
Toughest out: Leury García smoked a line drive in the third inning. Despite a .750 xBA and hit at 103.7 mph, Hunter Renfroe leaped to make a fantastic catch to rob García of a hit.
Hardest hit: Bobby Dalbec hit a high 111.5-mph fly ball in the third inning, but it hit off of the Green Monster and he settled for a double.
Weakest contact: Right after Tim Anderson led off the game with a homer, Adam Eaton hit a soft pop-up to Rafael Devers. It was hit at 43.5 mph.
Longest hit: The longest hit wasn’t a home run. No, really. Thanks to the Green Monster, Dalbec’s double traveled 424 feet and stayed in the park, edging home runs by Anderson (382) and Hernandez (342 feet).
Magic Number: 9
It took Tim Anderson one pitch to hit his ninth career leadoff home run. For a White Sox offense looking for some consistency, it was the perfect start to the doubleheader.
It’s his third leadoff bomb at Fenway Park, while he also has three leadoff home runs against Detroit and one against each of Cleveland, Kansas City and the Dodgers.
Tim Anderson has hit nine career leadoff home runs, tied with teammate Adam Eaton and Hall-of-Famer Tim Raines for the second-most in White Sox history behind Ray Durham (20). pic.twitter.com/Q5tjrJhqIR— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 18, 2021
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 during the doubleheader opener?
This poll is closed
Tim Anderson: 3-for-4, HR
Yoán Moncada: 1-for-3, RBI, SO, Started 2 double plays
Liam Hendriks: 1 IP, 1 HA, 1 SO, SV
Dallas Keuchel: 5 IP, 2 ER, 6 HA, 1 SO
Who was the White Sox Cold Cat during the doubleheader opener?
This poll is closed
Adam Eaton: 0-for-3, SO
Luis Robert: 0-for-3, SO
Leury García: 0-for-3, SO
Yermín Mercedes: 0-for-3, SO
SSS Reader Stats
steely3000 still is not doing his cleaning, but makes it two straight:
Too close to call on the recs, as a four-way tie ends it. But a sharp Schoolly_D hits the list twice!