While the regular season has ceased to have much meaning for those in the AAAL Central, tonight is a chance for the White Sox offense to show it can develop runs on its own, not just when the opponent makes them a gift, with lousy pitching and worse defense from a team whose owners conceded the season this week.
The pitching matchup is Dallas Keuchel vs. Triston McKenzie, so the lousy pitching may continue. McKenzie not only has a 5.61 ERA in general, but in three previous starts against the White Sox this year he’s lasted a total of 11 1⁄3 innings and given up 13 earned runs, for a whopping ERA of 10.33. Those were back in April and May, though, and his July has been better, with solid games against the Royals and Rays around a bad one against the Astros, but everybody has bad ones against the Astros.
The tall righty, who would need to put on a lot of weight to be called Beanpole (he’s 6´5´´, 165) throws his four-seamer five of every eight pitches, so there’s not a whole lot of mystery, and it’s only in the low 90s. But what has really hurt him is control: 42 walks in 59 innings.
Interestingly, while McKenzie has normal righty-lefty splits, right-handed hitter Seby Zavala will be behind the plate again tonight. Maybe Zack Collins’ defense is proving too much of a negative. And, of course, José Abreu is there, too. Nothing stops him.
Keuchel has been having his own problems, hence his 4.32 ERA. His July has been a mixed bag, with two strong games and two weak ones, totaling a poor 22 innings and 14 runs, for a 5.73 ERA on the month. Facing a team whose owners have quit, selling off two key offensive players — including one to the Sox — may help end the month on an upswing.
Cleveland has to be hoping they won’t repeat the defensive collapse that handed the White Sox last night’s game, the Sox have to be hoping no player will suffer a shot like Abreu took last night. Not only could someone less durable than José be injured, but we’d all have to again watch the Hall of Fame foxtrot, or whatever the hell that was, and see our HOFBP rave at an opposing player for having the audacity to show normal human concern, which is apparently another of those unwritten rule violations.
Beautiful night for a ballgame. First pitch 6:10 p.m. Central, usual broadcast suspects.