Ah well, you win some, you lose some. The Chicago White Sox failed to get on the board against Alec Mills and old friend Codi Heuer, as the Chicago Cubs won their first game of the 2021 Crosstown Classic. Blind squirrel, nut, etc.
It was only for a brief summer or two back in the halcyon days of 2013 that I let the band fun. take up much space in my head. I assume this is true of a good chunk of you, too. Yet nearly a decade after We Are Young became the Annoying Song of the Summer, it’s the opening refrain of another one of their hits that sticks in my brain and rears its head while watching Lance Lynn get rocked by the Cubs.
Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights I call it a draw
Some nights I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights I wish they’d just fall off
It’s a fitting song for baseball, and especially for pitchers. Some nights, a pitcher can be filthiest thing on the face of the earth. And some nights, you just gotta shrug your shoulders and move on to the next one, because you can’t win ’em all. Tonight was one of those nights for Lance Lynn, who gave up a season-worst seven earned runs over five innings, striking out seven but allowing three longballs. Lynn didn’t have much in the way of command, missing spots badly and appearing visibly frustrated at times; he’s worked through similar issues in past outings this season, but the Cubs made him pay for his mistakes. And when you make a mistake with three men on base, the game gets away quickly.
Lynn’s 24% CSW on the night was one of his lower totals on the season, and somewhat concerningly, his cutter once again abandoned him, running a season-low 10% CSW for the second consecutive start. What he calls a cutter actually behaves a lot more like a slider, which is part of how he strikes out so many hitters despite throwing 90% fastballs, as we’re constantly reminded. If he loses a feel for that pitch, he’s probably going to start getting away with fewer 4-seamers and sinkers over the middle. One shaky start is far from a reason to worry — there’s every reason to believe he’ll make the necessary adjustments and bounce back as he typically has in the past — but the performance of his cutter will be something to keep an eye on moving forward.
On the other end, Alec Mills couldn’t quite complete the Maddux (a complete game shutout in less than 100 pitches) tonight, but he did manage to befuddle Sox hitters for 25 outs without being touched for a run. As is his game, Mills wasn’t dominating hitters, running a pedestrian 25% CSW on the night, but he did an exquisite job mixing up his smorgasbord of an arsenal. He alternated between straight 4-seamers and shapely sinkers when he needed something hard, and his 35 off-speed pitches ranged from the low-60s to low-80s in velocity, moving all kinds of different directions. It’s easy to see why he’s not an elite pitcher — he barely broke 91 mph on the night — but it’s also easy to see how he threw a no-hitter, too.
All that being said, he did get a tad bit lucky tonight, as Tim Anderson will surely tell you. He gave up four batted balls of 98 mph or harder that wound up as outs, and all seemed to come at key moments of the game, with men on base and the momentum on the verge of shifting.
Some nights, the ball just finds the glove for one team, and doesn’t for the other. Tonight is one of those nights!
The highest-leverage at-bat of the night? It came with the bases loaded, the game still 2-0, and Rafael Ortega at the plate. If you don’t know what Rafael Ortega did with that particular plate appearance, well, keep reading. All I can say is when you lose the big moment so dramatically, you tend to lose the game, too.
If you’re already tired of reading Rafael Ortega’s name, then this is not the recap for you. His .80 pLI was the highest of a relatively low-pressure game. How one swing of the bat can change things so!
Ortega’s grand slam and Wisdom’s first home run were the only hits with a WPA over 10%, with Ortega taking the cake at .198 on his big tater.
Are you sick of Rafael Ortega and his grand slam yet? We’ve got a plot twist for you! Ortega gave him a run for his money, but the obvious winner here is resident gem-spinner Alec Mills, whose three-hit shutout was good for a .212 WPA on the night.
Hardest hit: Frank Schwindel’s relatively mundane sixth inning ground out actually left the bat at 109.5 mph, narrowly edging out Yoán Moncada’s 109.2 mph single in the ninth for tonight’s title.
Weakest contact: Not counting the Robinson Chirinos bunt that brought home the game’s first run, the softest contact tonight belongs to Michael Hermosillo, whose eighth inning tapper at 58 mph turned into a double play and made our nights all a little shorter.
Luckiest hit: The real kicker on the Ortega grand slam? It was a Guaranteed Rate Right Field Drifter Special, with an expected batting average of just .130.
Toughest out: César Hernández made the catch look pretty easy on a soft fifth inning line drive off the bat of Ian Happ, but it had an expected batting average of .570, the highest of the night for a non-hit.
Longest hit: Patrick Wisdom takes the crown for the second straight day (insert Jeopardy win streak music) with his fourth inning blast that travelled 407 feet, easily the longest of the night.
Magic Number: 1
That’s the number of times this season that the White Sox have had Tim Anderson, José Abreu, Yoán Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Eloy Jiménez, and Luis Robert in the same lineup. It was last night. If you weren’t here last night, they scored 17 runs. Seems like they should do that more often! Let’s hope they can run that lineup out there with a fair amount of consistency before the October switch flips. Nights like this don’t happen when they have their best lineup on the field, point blank.
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 tonight?
This poll is closed
Yoán Moncada (2-for-4, 0 LOB)
José Ruíz (2 IP, 0 ER, H, BB, 3 K)
Zach Hayes (came up with some good one-liners and insert fun. band references for the postgame Six Pack)
Who was the Sox Cold Cat tonight?
This poll is closed
Lance Lynn (5 IP, 7 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 7 K)
Eloy Jiménez (0-for-4, GIDP, 3 LOB)
Andrew Vaughn (0-for-3, SO, 3 LOB)
South Side Sox Roll Call
An early blowout without a requisite comeback makes for a relatively mundane, 222-comment gamethread, dominated by AnoHito with 34 weigh-ins on the evening
|17||Right Size Wrong Shape||3|
|21||David John Craven||1|
On a similar note, quite the dearth of green in this one, with Trooper Galactuss GIF-shot at the Cubs taking the comment crown this evening, with Ozziesox’s prescient advice for Lance Lynn not too far behind.