Hey, did you hear that Shohei Ohtani pitched tonight?
For a while there, it did look like he might win the game himself. Pitching strong almost through five before Joe Maddon hung him out and, in truly bizarre fashion, saw the White Sox rally to tie the game 3-3 — on three wild pitch offense runs.
The White Sox would score a total of four unearned runs in the game, against three singles — but some curious bullpen management culminating in Matt Foster pitching behind against the meat of the Angels lineup led to a game-ending, three-run homer for Jared Walsh.
For the third time in four games, White Sox starters failed to pitch five innings. Dylan Cease could only get through 4 2⁄3 innings (40 game score) and while there were positives to go on — including getting past an ugly first inning and not completely destroying the bullpen. This could easily have become a runaway that taxed the pen arms even more.
Here was the 92-pitch breakdown for Cease:
4-seam fastball: 52%/6 called strikes + 3 whiffs (19%)/97.5 mph avg.
Slider: 35%/6 called strikes + 6 whiffs (38%)/86.7 mph avg.
Knuckle Curve: 10%/2 called strikes + 6 whiffs (31%)/80.5 mph avg.
Changeup: 3%/2 called strikes + 0 whiffs (67%)/80.3 mph avg.
Cease gave up nine hard-hit balls (exit velocity 95 mph+).
Shohei Ohtani didn’t last any longer in the game than Cease, but his effort was more impressive, ending in a 52 game score. The two-way marvel was wilder than Cease, but punched out more to offset that.
Here was the 92-pitch breakdown for Ohtani:
4-seam fastball: 57%/7 called strikes + 5 whiffs (23%)/98.1 mph avg.
Slider: 23%/8 called strikes + 2 whiffs (48%)/81.6 mph avg.
Splitter: 18%/1 called strike + 5 whiffs (35%)/90.3 mph avg.
Curveball: 2%/0 called strikes + 0 whiffs (0%)/75.5 mph avg.
Ohtani surrendered six hard-hit balls.
Leury García’s sacrifice bunt after Nick Madrigal’s HBP opened the ninth was in the face of the biggest pressure of the game, at 4.58 LI. Yermín Mercedes’ fly out to center to end the White Sox ninth was a close second.
Just as the top player battle below was tight, so is the pressure cooker, where Rasiel Iglesias just edged out Matt Foster to top mark, 3.49 pLI to 3.47. Neither pitcher performed particularly well under their pressure, but in one of the quirks of baseball, Iglesias threw a ball away (almost two) to turn a lead into a tie but earned the “win.” Foster whiffed Mike Trout (!), but wildness put a walk on base and set up a walk-off homer on a 3-1 count.
Because of the momentum shift in the game, there was one more valuable play than Jared Walsh’s game-winning homer. That was Adam Eaton’s sharp tap back to Angeles closer Rasiel Iglesias in the top of the ninth. Because Iglesias boffed the throw to third to nail dead-to-rights lead runner Madrigal off of second base, the play became a .327 WPA value once Madrigal came around to score and tie the game 4-4. The play pushed Chicago’s win expectancy from 32.9% to 55.7%.
Twice tonight, Jared Walsh gave the Angels leads with home runs. The first was a solo shot to make it 4-3, the second a game-ender. All that pushed his value tonight to .457. WPA.
Adam Eaton fell just short of Walsh’s mark, logging .443 WPA. Old friend (cough) Steve Cishek earned .113 WPA for the third-best in the game.
For the first time this season, a player has the two hardest-hit balls in the game, and that player is Shohei Ohtani, who suffice to say likes to face Dylan Cease. Ohtani’s first-pitch wallop over the wall of a high fastball in the first inning tilted the scales at 115.2 mph. The combo platter player then went for 109.7 mph on a second-inning line out to Luis Robert. (Ohtani’s third and final at-bat fell just short of hard-hit status, a 94.2 mph grounder straight through the box ... and Cease’s legs ... normally a base hit but hit into the shift.)
The White Sox lacked punch tonight, as evidenced by just three singles accounting for all of the hits. Just three of the top 13 exit velocities came from the White Sox, and just one of those, Nick Madrigal’s single off of Ohtani in the fifth at 103.9 mph, fell for a hit.
Who was the White Sox MVP of Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Angels?
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Adam Eaton: 0-for-4, R, BB, K, 2.17 pLI, .443 WPA
Leury García: 1-for-3, R, SF bunt, two hard-hit, 2.20 pLI, .072 WPA
Nick Madrigal: 1-for-3, HBP, R, two hard-hit, 1.56 pLI, .057 WPA
Aaron Bummer: IP, BB, K, HB, 1.04 pLI, .046 WPA
Who was the White Sox Cold Cat of Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Angels?
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Matt Foster: 1⁄3 IP, H, HR, 2 ER, K, BB, 3.47 pLI, -.284 WPA
José Abreu: 0-for-3, R, 2 BB, 3 K, 1.80 pLI, -.189 WPA
Yermín Mercedes: 1-for-5, 2 K, 2.01 pLI, -.120 WPA
Yasmani Grandal: 0-for-3, BB, 2 K, 1.61 pLI, -.111 WPA
Codi Heuer: 1 1⁄3 IP, 3 H, ER, HR, 0.81 pLI, -.092 WPA
Luis Robert: 1-for-4, 3 K, 1.56 pLI, -.090 WPA