For the second consecutive series, the White Sox (6-2) enter the finale with a chance to secure a sweep and make further inroads to what’s already their best start record-wise since 2005, this time against a new iteration of the team that ended their most recent season to start even 5-2, the Tampa Bay Rays (4-5).
Even that 2005 team couldn’t quite reach the heights of 7-2, falling in game number nine to Cleveland. The last White Sox team to beat a 7-2 start? Nearly 40 years ago to the day, with a 1982 squad also managed by Tony La Russa — in a season massively delayed by blizzards!
If anybody in 1982 had any inkling this might be the case, I hope they also had the foresight to invest in Apple stock and 2005 World Series futures.
Here’s the lineup that the modern-day La Russa is giving us on a Sunday afternoon:
Many will exhale at the absence of Leury García in favor of Jake Burger, who’s likely to make his way through waivers (or to another team) when rosters contract to 26 at the end of the month. Others will inhale even more sharply at the dawning realizing that La Russa does seem to view Andrew Vaughn — he of the third overall pick in the 2019 draft and current 1.052 OPS — is a true platoon player, not fit to see the field against righthanders. Pass the Excedrin, please.
Vince Velásquez takes the hill for his second start in pinstripes after Tuesday’s rocky effort, in which he made it through four innings while allowing just a single run, but not without plenty of help from Luis Robert and quite a bit of batted-ball luck. On a getaway day against a platoon-optimized Rays lineup that can usually be relied on to make the most of their scoring opportunities — the last few days excepted, clearly — it may behoove us to expect a quick hook.
The Rays will open with short reliever (and Wisconsin native) J.P. Feyereisen, before turning to hard-throwing prospect Tommy Romero for the bulk of the early innings.
Romero shot through the minors with a 2.61 ERA and 145 strikeouts in 110 and a third innings pitched between Double- and Triple-A last season, but endured a rough big league debut on Tuesday, walking five Oakland Athletics hitters and allowing three of them to score before getting the hook with two outs in the second inning.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. CT; the game will be broadcasted on NBC Sports Chicago and ESPN AM 1000.