Lance Lynn celebrated getting his 1,500th career strikeout by then getting pummeled by the Houston Astros, something that happened to him regularly when he pitched for Texas. The first time through the lineup went just fine, five strikeouts and one unearned run following a Yoán Moncada throwing error. But the second time through? Fuggedaboudit.
The White Sox tied it up on an Adam Engel single and Moncada double in the third, but, oh, my, did the brown stuff hit the rotating blades in the bottom half — Jose Altuve double, Michael Brantley single for one run, Yordan Alvarez single, Carlos Correa walk, and then, with the bases loaded and a 3-2 count, a case of grooving one to Houston’s third-string third baseman. (Yeah, I know, we usually only do videos of our guys doing good stuff, but this was the ballgame.)
That made it 5-1, and Lynn lasted only one more inning and one more run, for by far his worst game of the year — but a common result for him when the opponents have an H on their caps.
The White Sox gave it a try, though, making it 6-3 in the seventh. First came an Andrew Vaughn opposite-field shot.
Andrew Vaughn puts one on the board. pic.twitter.com/p8hyizepVp— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) June 20, 2021
And then a bizarre sequence when Danny Mendick singled, went to second on a Tim Anderson long fly, got wild-pitched to third and made it home when the throw to third went just about into the Crawford Boxes.
That all happened because Dusty Baker wanted to prove Tony La Russa isn’t the only geriatric who can leave a pitcher in too long, staying with Framber Valdez (who had done an excellent job for five innings of proving lefties really can handle the White Sox but was obviously out of gas when he threw two very wild pitches in the sixth, yet still was kept in for one more round).
Ryan Burr tossed a couple of excellent innings and José Ruiz one, which meant that come the eighth, the Sox were in striking distance.
Moncada led off with a single, then, after an José Abreu K, our HOFBP left Yermín Mercedes in despite a righty reliever on the mound, for out No. 2 (a nice, deep fly ball, but an out), to be followed by Yasmani Grandal’s second single of the game — see, he can hit singles, really, just not many. That brought up Vaughn as the potential tying run. Yes, he had hit a homer and 115 EV single, but those were off of a lefty, and Vaughn crushes lefties. He hits .183 against righties. HOFBP went with his gut instead of a lefty pinch-hitter, and his gut led to an easy pop up and the end of any threat.
Ruiz took some drama out of the game by giving up a homer to Carlos Correa in the bottom of the eighth to make it 7-3, then added the wrong kind of drama by having to leave the field with a right knee problem; Zack Burdi came on to record the final Astros out of the night.
Turns out HOFBP was saving his two lefty pinch-hitters, Brian Goodwin and Jake Lamb, for bases-empty time in the ninth against Houston’s fine closer, because, well, why waste them with men on base and a weak reliever on the mound in the eighth? Said closer, Ryan Pressly, had an easy 1-2-3 time of it.
That makes Sunday afternoon’s game not only the last chance for the White Sox to salvage a victory in the series, but a historic tiebreaker of sorts. Baker and the HOFBP have now played each other 204 times, and are deadlocked, 102-102.
SHAMELESS SHARING SOX PROMO: I tried to find a way to work this in smoothly, but no pitcher kept rubbing a black spot on his cap, so I’ll just force it in. Next Wednesday, instead of two guys pretending they know what they’re talking about, we’ll have a very special guest — University of Illinois professor emeritus of physics Alan Nathan, quite probably the world’s foremost authority on the physics of baseball. We’ll be talking to Dr. Nathan about that which is in the news (because he has written papers about spin rates), but also about how the ball itself could be adjusted to try to save baseball from continuing to be overwhelmingly strikeouts-and-homers and boring the country to death.