One more game, and the White Sox (43-28) can leave Houston. A 7-3 loss to the Astros on Saturday adds to arguably the most frustrating three-game stretch of the season, but there’s still a chance to salvage a win on Sunday.
Lance Lynn gave up five earned runs in his previous five starts, spanning 31 innings. The Astros tagged him for six runs (five earned) on seven hits, a walk and six strikeouts in a four-inning start tonight, which easily goes as Lynn’s worst start donning the White Sox uniform. It’s the first time this season Lynn gave up more than three earned runs, while doubling as his shortest outing during a laborious 84-pitch start.
Lynn didn’t alter his fastball approach, as he still relied mostly on his 4-seamer, followed by his cutter and sinker. He had a 34% whiff rate, including eight swings-and-misses with his 4-seamer, but the Astros still made solid contact against all three of his fastballs. They averaged hard-hit contact against his cutter (96.6 mph) and were less than a mph away from doing the same against his sinker (94.1 mph). He gave up a double using his 4-seamer, cutter and sinker, while the Astros recorded three hits off of his cutter and sinker. His spin rates were significantly down on Saturday.
Lynn finished with three strikeouts using his sinker, along with two punch outs on his 4-seamer. But it didn’t stop Houston from getting timely hits and constant traffic on the base paths. Lynn finished with a game score of 36.
Framber Valdez’s ground ball rate is no joke; he makes Dallas Keuchel look like a fly ball pitcher. Using his two-pitch mix of sinker and curveball, Valdez forced 12 ground outs during an efficient, seven-inning start. The White Sox were the first team this season to score more than one earned run against Valdez, who allowed three runs (two earned), six hits, two walks and five strikeouts.
Along with forcing ground outs, all five of Valdez’s strikeouts came via his curveball. The White Sox did have two hits off of the pitch, including Yoán Moncada’s RBI double, but they largely didn’t find success. They also had two singles against his sinker, while Andrew Vaughn homered against his changeup. The White Sox recorded 10 hard-hit balls (57.1% hard-hit rate), but had just three hits in those at-bats.
A seventh-inning rally pushed Valdez’s pitch count to 108 pitches, as he earned a game score of 56.
The game was still in reach for the White Sox in the third inning when Robel Garcia came to bat with the bases loaded and two outs. Lynn threw a 3-2 fastball that caught too much of the plate, which Garcia drove to the right-field wall for a three-run double to give the Astros a 5-1 lead. Garcia’s at-bat clocked in at 2.58 LI.
No one faced more pressure than José Abreu (1.16 pLI). He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, personally leaving three runners on base.
Garcia’s three-run double had a .204 WPA.
Even in a loss, Moncada (.179 WPA) made the biggest impact. He finished 2-for-3 with a double, walk and RBI, though did have a throwing error in the first inning.
Luckiest hit: Myles Straw singled off of Lynn in the fourth inning on a hit that had a .070 xBA.
Toughest out: Yuli Gurriel hit a sinking liner into center field, but Adam Engel was quick enough to catch it for the second out of the third inning. It came off of Gurriel’s bat at 103.9 mph, translating to a .930 xBA. It was tied for the highest xBA of the game.
Hardest hit: Vaughn’s first-inning single traveled two feet and had a -43 degree launch angle, but it was hit 115 mph. He was helped by Valdez’s poor throw, which allowed him to advance to second base.
Weakest contact: Leury García hit a soft grounder back to Valdez in the seventh inning. It came off of his bat at 57.3 mph.
Longest hit: In Brian Goodwin’s only at-bat, he flew out to deep center field, on a ball that traveled 398 feet.
Magic Number: 1,500
I’m sure Lynn won’t care about reaching 1,500 career strikeouts because it came in a loss, but it’s still quite the accomplishment. He has 86 strikeouts in 75 2⁄3 innings this year.
Hard-hit is any ball off the bat at 95 mph or more
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 after a third straight loss to the Astros?
This poll is closed
Ryan Burr: 2 IP, H, BB, K, .011 WPA
Yoán Moncada: 2-for-3, RBI, 2B, BB, throwing error, .179 WPA
Yasmani Grandal: 2-for-4, .014 WPA
Andrew Vaughn: 2-for-3, HR, RBI, BB, .035 WPA
Who was the White Sox Cold Cat after a third straight loss to the Astros?
This poll is closed
Lance Lynn: 4 IP, 6 R (5 ER), 7 H, BB, 6 K, -.378 WPA
Tim Anderson: 0-for-5, -.062 WPA
José Abreu: 0-for-4, 2 K, -.114 WPA
Yermín Mercedes: 0-for-4, K, -.069 WPA
Leury García: 0-for-3, K, -.092 WPA
South Side Sox Roll Call
With losses mounting and a Saturday night game, we drew a modest 139 comments to the gamethread. The battle for top commenter was quite fierce:
Unsurprisingly on a short comment night, we stumbled into no green. However, horror1967’s clever take on Leury was the only two-rec of the night: