On paper, this should be an easy win for the White Sox. On paper.
Of course, on paper, yesterday was a fairly easy Sox win as well. That’s why they play the games, and all that.
The reason things look good is that this is a team and pitching rematch from last Wednesday, when Carlos Rodón came within a toe of a perfect game, and the Sox blasted Zack Plesac with six runs in two-thirds of an inning. But, as your broker is obligated to tell you, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.”
Still, the Sox also have the advantage, as they’re 8-9 and perfectly capable of rolling the big rock up the hill until they get to .500. It’s after that the chore becomes Sysiphean.
Rodón threw 114 pitches in his masterpiece last week, the first time he had topped 100 in two years, to the day — and the last time was followed a couple of weeks later with a trip to the surgeon’s table. So, unless Carlos is pulling a Johnny Vander Meer, chances are he’s on a limited pitch count this time, especially since he’d been so amped up Wednesday his fastball hit 99 in the ninth.
Fortunately, while Yermín Mercedes and Danny Mendick pitched yesterday and so are probably unavailable for relief duty, Tony La Russa wisely held Leury García back, so there is competent help that can be brought in.
Another decision doesn’t immediately seem so sage. After Zack Collins drew rave reviews for how he handled Carlos in the no-hitter, Yasmani Grandal will be catching this time. Maybe it’s because Grandal is hitting a mighty .139, 10 points higher than Collins.
Also, Yermín will be playing ... first base.
Refresher: Mercedes is a catcher. The two positions he’ll have played in the major leagues as of first pitch are pitcher, and first base. Naturally, lifetime first baseman Andrew Vaughn starts again in left field. Your pennant-charging White Sox, everyone!
Terry Francona is considered one of the smartest managers in baseball, if not the smartest, so naturally, given the disastrous results for his team last time, this time he’s shaking things up by, uh, well, leaving his lineup exactly the same. Maybe he thinks that’ll confuse the Sox into surrender.
In a minor White Sox move today, reliever Zack Burdi was returned to the alternate site and pitcher Alex McRae — in theory, someone who is stretched for longer outings — packed his parka and headed to Cleveland, as the 13th man on the White Sox staff.
Game time is a bright and early — thought thankfully, not as bright and early as yesterday — 5:10 Central. PM. NBC Sports Channel on the boob tube, ESPN 1000 on the boombox.