Does anyone else have a headache after watching that?
That was a brutal ending to the game and the series. The Chicago White Sox lost 7-4 to the Angels on a bottom-of-the-ninth Jared Walsh walk-off, three-run, home run. The Angels took three of four in this opening season series.
This game was chaotic from start to finish, so let’s start from the beginning to recap the madness.
Right-handed pitcher/DH Shohei Ohtani came out aggressive the entire first inning, and things weren’t looking too good after Tim Anderson came out of the game after pulling up lame running out a grounder in his first at-bat. (Leury García replaced TA at short.) After further evaluation, it was confirmed that Anderson was removed due to left hamstring tightness. He is day-to-day, which is definitely a relief for all Sox fans holding their breaths.
Ohtani pitched a 1-2-3 first, and then came up in the bottom half and absolutely crushed a 451-foot home run off of Dylan Cease, who had quite a shaky start. After allowing the home run to Ohtani, Cease also gave up a single to Mike Trout, a single to Anthony Rendón, and then walked Walsh to load the bases. This paved the way for a Justin Upton sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
Ohtani continued to dominate the Sox in the second and third innings, while Cease started to calm down a little bit as well. One thing that we saw from both pitchers was that their control was off, and that led to two walks by Ohtani in the top of the fourth. In the bottom half of the fourth inning, Cease allowed a single to José Iglesias and a walk to Max Stassi before David Fletcher singled to make it 3-0. At this point, the Chicago offense needed to wake up if it wanted to stay in the game.
But the offense didn’t wake up ... yet the White Sox still tied it in the next inning?
Nick Madrigal singled in the top of the fifth, followed by García grounding out into a force out, which kept him on base. After an error by Ohtani on a pickoff attempt, García advanced to third. The righthander then issued free passes to Adam Eaton and José Abreu to load the bases. After a wild pitch, García scored to make it 3-1.
Many people were surprised with Joe Maddon's decision to keep Ohtani as he lost his sharpness, and it cost the Angels big. Before you knew it, Yoán Moncada had a two-run, game-tying strikeout. Wait what? Well, just watch for yourself.
As you can see, a lot happened on this play, and the Angels made a costly error instead of ending the inning. Looks like were not the only team with defensive struggles after all! Although Ohtani technically didn’t come out of the game because of the collision at home plate (Abreu sliding home with the tying run), his slight injury and limp made it clear his night was over. Ohtani left after 4 2⁄3 innings pitched with seven strikeouts and five walks, which was a very solid outing considering he only allowed two hits.
The White Sox were finally back in the game at 3-3 going into the bottom of the fifth inning! Unfortunately, that didn’t last long. Cease started off the bottom of the fifth with two ground outs, and was replaced by Codi Heuer. Overall, there seemed to be a lot of panic surrounding Cease at the beginning of the game, but that started to slow down as he became more consistent later on. There are still some things to improve on, like the fact that he was barely able to throw a first-pitch strike, and had three walks. But it could have been worse. Like Ohtani, Cease left after 4 2⁄3 innings and recorded three strikeouts against five hits.
Heuer usually is a solid part of the bullpen, but he wasn’t tonight as he allowed an immediate solo homer to Walsh to make it 4-3.
The next few innings were pretty silent for both teams, and we saw an appearance from Aaron Bummer in the bottom of the seventh inning, who got out of the inning after a leadoff walk to Trout. José Ruiz then threw a 1-2-3 eighth. It was up to the White Sox offense, who had been relatively quiet the rest of the night, to see if they can put anything together to tie it up and/or win the game in the top of the ninth.
Angels closer Raisel Iglesias, started off the inning with a HBP to Madrigal, who was sacrificed to second by García.
Once there, Madrigal had another poor baserunning mistake, but it led to him scoring and tying the game up.
Yes, you heard that right, again.
I mean come on, at this point the Angels were practically giving us the game. What should have been an easy second out for Iglesias turned into a 4-4 tie for the White Sox. The least we could do was get some sort of hit to take the lead with Eaton at second base and Abreu up. Unfortunately, Abreu didn’t look like his usual M-V-Pito self tonight, and struck out, followed by a Moncada ground out to strand Eaton.
The bats never seemed to wake up tonight and it was extremely frustrating to watch.
Surprisingly, Ruiz stayed in the game to start the ninth, but got the hook from Tony La Russa after Ruiz allowed a leadoff single to Dexter Fowler. Matt Foster came on and punched out Trout, then walked Rendón.
Of course, no other than Walsh had to come up, and the hottest hitter in Anaheim did just what you figure he’d do up 3-1 in the count. Before you knew it, he was rounding the bases after hitting a three-run home run to walk it off and win the game, 7-4.
The White Sox surely should be glad to get out of Anaheim after that series. The offense was sluggish, the pitching was mediocre, and the defense was porous. Luckily, it is only the first series of the season, so plenty more great baseball will be played.
The White Sox leave the series with a 1-3 record, and hope to bounce back tomorrow night against the Seattle Mariners, in another late-night game. Carlos Rodón will be on the mound and Joe Resis makes his regular season debut here at SSS.
MVP voting is over at the Six Pack!
And in case you missed any of the keystone cops action tonight: