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Belt and Bat: White Sox 3, Athletics 2

The Legend of Lance Lynn and Luis Robert

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Liam Hendriks and catcher Seby Zavala celebrate after a 3-2 victory against the Oakland Athletics at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

You can exhale, now, White Sox fans. That was an exciting one!

The White Sox successfully clinched the series against the Oakland Athletics, pulling off a gutsy, 3-2 win on Wednesday night. With Cleveland losing to the Minnesota Twins in extra innings tonight, the South Siders increase their divisional lead to 12 games — the largest lead they’ve enjoyed all season.

At this point, losing the AL Central seems about as likely as being struck by lightning (… thunderstruck?), which means the Sox could be shifting their focus from a division title to earning a favorable seed in the postseason. Regardless of the outcome in tomorrow’s series finale, these three wins against the A’s could serve as a strong foot in the door, as the South Siders head into the meat of the August schedule.

Chicago drew first blood with an Eloy Jiménez single to left in the first inning, but offensively, the night belonged to Luis Robert. La Pantera went 3-for-4, banking 2 RBIs. In his last seven games, Robert is touting an impressive .429 average. It’s also worth noting that each of Robert’s RBIs were manufactured by deceptively quiet nights by Yoán Moncada and Brian Goodwin. Moncada went 1-for-3 with a walk, and while Goodwin went 0-for-2, he drew two walks. Now, that’s a little thing called teamwork, my friends.

Starting pitcher Lance Lynn struggled with his command from the get-go, throwing 88 pitches in only four innings. To his credit, Lynn battled through and ended up allowing only three hits and striking out four. Lynn found himself in quite a few sticky situations tonight — yes, including a wild sticky-substance check in the middle of the fourth inning. As Lynn exited the field, he was subject to a foreign substance check by third-base umpire Nick Lentz. Lynn, who said postgame he was hurt, was already in the dugout and on the way to the clubhouse when Lentz asked for his belt — which Lynn tossed onto the field. In turn, Lentz threw him out of the game. We don’t have audio of what Lynn said next, but I think we’ve all got pretty good guesses.

From there, Garret Crochet became the pitcher of record, and the White Sox bullpen took care of the rest. Crochet, along with Ryan Tepera and Aaron Bummer, held the lead for the Sox until handing it over to Liam Hendriks with five outs to go. It took Hendriks 23 pitches to close this one out, including striking out the side in the ninth for a thrilling finish.

Tonight’s scorecard highlights:

  • All the Sox runs tonight were the result of singles through the left side (Jimenez in the first, Robert in the fourth and sixth)
  • Robert’s night at the dish is even more impressive when you consider that he only saw five pitches the entire night
  • I referred to Lynn’s ejection as “Beltgate” on my scorecard, and never came up with a better name. Suggestions are welcomed in the comments.
  • According to my notes, Hendriks was, at various times, throwing both HEAT and WICKED SLIDERS.

The Sox have a quick turnaround going into tomorrow’s day game, where they will attempt to sweep the Athletics out of town and move onto the Tampa Bay Rays. There is a rumor of a surprise recapper for tomorrow’s getaway game, while Darrin Brown will take the Six Pack in the daytime.