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Guardians at White Sox, PPD COVID

In case you thought the pandemic was in the rear-view mirror.

Cleveland Guardians v Chicago White Sox David Banks/Getty Images

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled gamethread with breaking news. The pandemic that keeps getting called “endemic” reminds you that, in fact, it is not “over.”

[Leigh Allan put together a nice gamethread for this afternoon. Seems a shame to waste it.]

It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame, and the White Sox have a beautiful chance to take a series from a division rival. By winning, the White Sox (15-14) would remain better than .500 in the process.

Last night, the Guardians’ attempt to repeat the ninth-inning comeback of the night before fell short, at least in part because a Cleveland runner pulled the bonehead play of diving into first instead of running through it, so momentum is on the White Sox’s side. After a 7-12 start, the Guardians (15-15) have won eight of their last 11 games.

(Disclaimer: The last time I wrote an intro to a game featuring Vince Velásquez and the dregs of the opposing starting rotation, I said the over/under should probably be 30. Instead, it was pretty much a pitchers’ duel, in which Velásquez was brilliant. The following over/under prediction is done merely to provide the same level of inspiration, and not to be taken literally.)

On the mound in the sunshine will be righties Vince Velásquez and Aaron Civale, so the over/under should probably be about 30 (see: inspiration).

Actually, Velásquez has been excellent in his last two starts, totaling 10 23 innings and giving up just seven hits and one run. Given how badly he started his White Sox career, it may be time to start the cry, “Katz’ll fix ’em!”

The same can’t be said for Civale, whose entire season has been a disaster. He had been a perfectly adequate starter last year, going 12-5 with a 3.84 ERA, but this year, he’s just been throwing batting practice. Civale’s velocity is down on all six (yes, six, all thrown more than 10% of the time, and bad with all of them) of his pitches — way, way down in the case of breaking pitches — and opponents are lighting him up to the tune of a .326 BAA and .942 OPS.

See? Awful, awful, awful, without a single good performance on the season. No wonder his ERA is 9.45. The only surprise is that he hasn’t been sent down.

Civale has been so bad you expect that any day there will be a headline on reporting that he’s having surgery and will be out for the season. Before that, though, he will face a White Sox lineup that is heavily right-handed, which is no surprise because Civale has reverse splits this year.

This lineup is slightly outdated, as Danny Mendick has replaced Leury García at second base.

Tim Anderson (7-for-17 with three HRs) and Luis Robert (5-for-11 with one dinger) have been especially tough on Civale.

Velásquez will be trying to make it three good starts in a row against a lineup slightly revised from that of last night. Amed Rosario is the only Guardian with more than five at-bats against him, and he’s 3-for-10.

First pitch is slated for 1:10 p.m. Central, with a wonderfully sunny 80 degrees (if you don’t live in Chicago, you won’t understand how thrilled we are with this) and light winds blowing in from left. Usual broadcast suspects.