A questionable sacrifice bunt, a lot of strikeouts and career days from Detroit’s Tarik Skubal and Eric Haase doomed the White Sox (35-23) on Saturday.
The White Sox’s City Connect uniforms looked great in the afternoon sunlight, but their play wasn’t equally sharp in a 4-3 loss to the Tigers. The Chicago 9 struck out 16 times and gave up three home runs, as Lucas Giolito fell for the second time to Detroit this season.
It’d be hard to script a better start for the South Siders, who saw Giolito toss a 1-2-3 first inning, and then recorded two base hits to start the bottom half. Tim Anderson doubled, and then scored on Nick Madrigal’s single up the middle for a quick, 1-0 lead.
But what looked to be the start of another offensive outburst against a left-handed starter turned into a quiet afternoon at the plate.
Skubal retired the next eight White Sox hitters before Madrigal, who finished 2-for-4 with a walk, singled again in the third inning. While Yoán Moncada singled, as well, it came during a stretch when Skubal recorded eight strikeouts over three innings, which included the threat ending with José Abreu swinging through a sinker.
Skubal’s career-high 11 strikeouts and 20 swings-and-misses helped him work around a pair of one-out walks in the fifth inning, as well. He allowed one earned run on four hits and three walks during his five-inning start, as the AL leader in losses notched his third win, in part thanks to Haase.
The 28-year-old continued his barrage of homers, launching a two-run blast in the second inning to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. It came on a changeup down the middle, so in his fourth-inning at-bat, Giolito threw a slider on the outside portion of the plate. Haase hit his second homer of the game (.270 xBA), and his fifth in June.
Miguel Cabrera homered in the sixth inning for what turned out to be the winning run, giving the Tigers a 4-1 lead.
Facing Derek Holland and his now-10.05 ERA in the bottom of the sixth inning, the White Sox had an opportunity to take the lead. Yasmani Grandal singled, followed by doubles from Andrew Vaughn and a two-run double off of Jake Lamb’s bat, who came in to play right field for an injured Billy Hamilton.
Zack Collins walked after a couple of failed sacrifice bunt attempts, bringing Danny Mendick to the plate. Despite Holland having yet to record an out and runners on first and second base, Tony La Russa called for another sacrifice bunt. It didn’t work, with Mendick bunting toward first base, allowing a charging Jonathan Schoop to throw out Lamb at third base and significantly lower the White Sox’s chances of winning.
The bunt into the out at third lowered the Sox Win Expectancy by 9.2%.— Dan Bernstein (@dan_bernstein) June 5, 2021
Kyle Funkhouser came in and retired the next two batters, extinguishing any threat.
Giolito capped his seven-inning start with an exclamation point by striking out the side, finishing with seven hits, four earned runs and seven strikeouts. Codi Heuer and José Ruiz combined for two scoreless frames out of the bullpen, too.
However, the White Sox couldn’t muster up another threat like the one in the sixth inning, putting extra emphasis on the decision to sacrifice bunt. They struck out five times in the last three innings.
It’s fair to say the White Sox should’ve done more against a sub-par Detroit bullpen, but they also didn’t take full advantage of their best scoring opportunity of the game. Even against bad teams, it’s hard to win when you don’t give yourself the best chance to score late in the game.
Run Expectancy in every year I can find is higher with 1st/2nd no outs than 2nd/3rd one out. He was actively trying to make his situation worse. Danny Mendick has *1* sacrifice in his MLB career. The 4 previous hitters: single, double, double, walk. Bunting was a *terrible* call. https://t.co/gm3BrBgQRq— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) June 5, 2021
The White Sox go for the series win at 1:10 p.m. Sunday, with Hannah LaMotta on game coverage and Chrystal O’Keefe taking the Six Pack of Stats.
The White Sox’s new uniforms received plenty of local and national hype. But La Russa still found a way to make himself into a meme before the game.
Aye we bout to get pulled over. Hide the blunt. Everybody act normal.— Roy Wood Jr- Ex Jedi (@roywoodjr) June 5, 2021
EVERYBODY IN THE CAR: pic.twitter.com/su2kz8L9Ez