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White Sox 3, Cubs 1: Anderson, Kopech power the South Siders to a victory

Despite the weather, the first game of the Crosstown Classic went well

Chicago White Sox v Chicago Cubs
Providing a spark: Tim Anderson launched his fourth home run of the season, and it turned out to be the only home run of the game.
Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The White Sox (10-13) opened this year’s Crosstown Classic on a high note, grinding out a 3-1 victory over the Cubs (9-14) at Wrigley.

In a cold, humid evening in Chicago, the top of the first was business as usual for the struggling White Sox offense. Even though Tim Anderson (107.6 mph exit velocity, .510 xBA), AJ Pollock (98.7 mph, .480 xBA), and Yasmani Grandal (98.1 mph, .370 xBA) hit the ball quite sharply, they went down in order.

However, the South Siders’ luck turned around in the second inning against Cubs starter Scott Effross. With the game still scoreless, José Abreu led off and hit a ground ball to third. Patrick Wisdom fielded the ball, but his long throw to first was off-target, and Abreu reached on what was ruled an error by Wisdom. After Gavin Sheets flew out, Adam Engel continued his hot streak at Wrigley Field by hitting a line drive into the left-center gap. That put runners on second and third with one out, and Jake Burger stepped up to the plate with an RBI opportunity.

On the first pitch from Effross, Burger hit a soft ground ball down the third base line. If this was a bunt, it would have been a perfect place for one to end up. The Cubs hoped it would roll foul, but it never did. Abreu scored, Engel advanced to third, and the White Sox had an early 1-0 lead.

This was the first MLB start for Effross, and he was used as an opener instead of a traditional starter. So, he was removed from the game after Burger’s single, which was only his 18th pitch. Keegan Thompson took over on the mound, and Reese McGuire was the first to face him. McGuire laid a bunt down the first base line. McGuire was tagged out, but the Cubs had no chance of cutting down Engel at the plate, so the bunt increased the lead to two.

Tim Anderson led off to begin the top of the third inning, and he took advantage of a cutter from Thompson that caught too much of the plate. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Anderson drove Thompson’s cutter on the outer half to the opposite field. Despite the dead ball and the poor conditions, the ball had enough juice (101.5 mph exit velocity, 32-degree launch angle) to clear the wall in right-center field.

That was Anderson’s fourth home run of the season, and it gave the White Sox a 3-0 lead.

Meanwhile, after a smooth first two innings on the mound, Michael Kopech met some resistance in the bottom of the third. Yan Gomes led off with a walk, and after a Nick Madrigal ground out that advanced Gomes to second, Alfonso Rivas stepped up to the plate. Rivas quickly fell behind in the count (0-2), but he simply would not go away. During the marathon plate appearance, Rivas hit nine foul balls before ultimately drawing a walk on pitch No. 14. That brought up Seiya Suzuki with two on and one out. Suzuki worked a pretty lengthy plate appearance of his own, adding seven to Kopech’s pitch count. But, on the seventh pitch, Suzuki hit a line drive right at Abreu. Abreu made the catch and stepped on first in time to double off Rivas to end the inning.

The bottom of the fourth was also eventful for Kopech and the White Sox. With one on and two outs, Jason Heyward worked a six-pitch walk to put a runner in scoring position. Then, Nico Hoerner hit a grounder to third that Burger failed to field cleanly. That loaded the bases for Gomes, who took two pitches out of the zone to get ahead in the count. The 2-0 pitch from Kopech also missed the zone by plenty, but Gomes chased it, and he hit a pop fly that Abreu easily caught. Once again, the White Sox escaped potential trouble. Kopech was replaced by Reynaldo López after four-plus innings. Kopech issued two walks but struck out five, and most importantly, he did not allow any runs.

The situation got tense in the top of the fifth, when Thompson hit Josh Harrison to lead off the inning. Then, Thompson hit Anderson on the very next pitch. That prompted a meeting between the umpires, who discussed whether or not there was intent behind the HBPs. It was likely unintentional given that the teams were playing with a ball that was difficult to grip due to the conditions. As a result, Thompson remained in the game, and hopefully, there is no further drama in this series.

The Cubs made another attempt at a comeback in the sixth, when José Ruiz issued a leadoff walk to Ian Happ. Ruiz appeared to be on his way to a clean inning after striking out Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom. But, Heyward extended the inning with an infield single (.150 xBA) to give Hoerner a chance. On a 1-0 curveball over the heart of the plate, Hoerner hit a ground ball (.270 xBA) that was placed nicely down the left field line. Happ scored, Heyward advanced to third, and the potential tying run was on second base. Fortunately, Ruiz worked out of the jam by striking out Gomes on a 3-2 changeup that was in the dirt. After six, the White Sox held a 3-1 lead.

Aaron Bummer delivered a perfect seventh inning on the mound, and Matt Foster did the same in the eighth. Liam Hendriks entered the game looking to slam the door on a late comeback bid, and he did just that. Hendriks struck out Heyward, he got Hoerner to pop out, and Gomes grounded out to wrap it up.

These two teams will be back in action tomorrow evening (6:40 p.m. Central) at Wrigley Field. Once again, NBC Sports Chicago will televise the game, and WMVP 1000 AM will have the radio coverage. Lucas Giolito and Kyle Hendricks are tomorrow’s probable pitchers. We will see you then.