It was a pitchers’ duel in Cincinnati.
Sonny Gray and Dallas Keuchel each pitched seven innings of shutout ball — allowing only two hits apiece. Keuchel found a good rhythm after getting into trouble in the first inning. With runners on second and third in the bottom of the inning, Keuchel forced the next two Reds batters to ground into a force out at home, and then a double play.
He struck out just one in seven innings, and walked three with one hit by pitch (Keuchel’s fractured Joey Votto’s thumb, forcing the first baseman to miss the next month). Despite having no strikeout pitch all day Keuchel’s performance was truly the best of his year, lowering his ERA to 3.79 on the year.
Michael Kopech came in for 1 2⁄3 innings. He had four strikeouts and four walks. Liam Hendriks finished the last out in the ninth inning — and earned the loss in the 10th. The White Sox pitching staff relied heavily on the defense to show up, and they did. Besides an error by Leury García in the bottom of the ninth inning, the defense and starting pitching wasn’t anything to worry about.
love how Pito dives... then immediately gets up and looks for someone to chuck the ball at pic.twitter.com/qSH6Z0ySmV— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) May 5, 2021
The offense, on the other hand ...
Gray dominated the White Sox, with eight strikeouts and two walks. And, after a 9-0 win mere hours earlier on Tuesday, you’d expect more than just two hits. At least give the fans some residual bloopers.
Besides Tim Anderson and Nick Madrigal, the team didn’t record any hits. Surprisingly, an offense as potent as the White Sox’s couldn’t score any runs off of Cincinnati’s struggling bullpen. Even with the extra innings “man on second” rule, the Sox just couldn’t pull the trigger.
Hendriks started the top of the 10th inning on second base, but wouldn’t make it past third after a Billy Hamilton strikeout to end the inning — leaving many fans wondering why García and Hamilton are put in a position that could ultimately determine the outcome of the game.
Tucker Barnhart started on second base for Cincinnati and Nick Senzel immediately singled off of Hendriks in the bottom of the 10th inning, placing runners on first and third with no outs. Jesse Winker placed the final blow of the game into center field, scoring Barnhart and winning the game for the Reds.
Speaking of Hendriks on second ...
It seems it’s taking a little bit of time for Tony La Russa to get familiar with the new rules after being away from the dugout for more than a decade. Many were questioning why Hendriks was on base instead of José Abreu. La Russa admitted postgame that he and his staff were unaware of Major League Baseball’s rule regarding runners on second in extra innings.
Here’s what the rule states: “If the player in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s leadoff hitter is the pitcher, the runner placed on second base at the start of that half-inning may be the player preceding the pitcher in the batting order. Any runner or batter removed from the game for a substitute shall be ineligible to return to the game, as is the case in all circumstances under the OBR.”
In the postgame press conference, La Russa got schooled.
Tony La Russa did not know that he could have used Jose Abreu at second base as the free runner instead of closer Liam Hendriks. Was informed of an amendment to rule by @JRFegan. "I'm guessing you know the rules better. Now I know," he said.— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) May 5, 2021
Hey, tomorrow’s off-day is as good as for the team to sit down go over the rule book.
The White Sox are back at it on Friday to battle for first place against division rival Kansas City. Carlos Rodón is expected to start the opener. Colleen Sullivan has recap duty, with Ashley Sanders taking on the Six Pack of Stats.