Happy Saturday, White Sox fans, and happy Lucas Giolito Day, if you celebrate. Our intense, flamethrowing ace was at least entertaining today, despite a devastating extra-innings loss to the Rangers, complete with a stadium-wide, South Sider protest against veteran skipper Tony La Russa. I have texts from my dad to help me tell the game story today, upon popular request.
What looked to be a pitchers’ duel, with both starters serving up reputably nasty changeups, became an offensive battle, as both teams’ bats were attuned to hitting them. With 29 combined hits in today’s game, this predicted small-ball contest turned into a chaotic battle of the lumber.
With a burgeoning White Sox offense ready to put the smackdown on the proficient lefty Martín Pérez, it was difficult to predict what would happen in today’s double-ace match. Luckily, Pérez’s performance seemed hindered by an incongruent, yet consistent strike zone from home plate umpire Alex Tosi, and the southpaw’s annoyance was evident. Pérez surrendered seven runs, including a two-run blast to red-hot Jake Burger — only the second home run he’s allowed all season.
The South Siders’ offense was fast and furious, racking up five runs in the second inning. Newly-revived Yasmani Grandal went 2-for-2 until he left the game with, what else, what looked like a pulled hamstring that occurred during a most routine, lukewarm jog to first base. It bears repeating that the White Sox have been dealing with injuries all season, during the most mundane plays, and fans are searching for a scapegoat. A complete overhaul of the White Sox conditioning and training staff would appease many South Siders, including my dad.
Every run the White Sox scored today was answered by the Rangers. The score remained deadlocked at 7-7 until the 10th, when the Rangers rallied and scored four runs off of Matt Foster and José Ruiz. The familiar fan-favorite “Let’s go White Sox” chant had disappeared, angrily replaced by a “Fire Tony” chant in full-throated cadence from 30,000+ bitter fans.
The White Sox offense has been on PR damage control with some hot bats, scoring 29 runs over the last three games. The now-infamous 1-2 “walk heard ’round the world” call by La Russa made the team a national laughingstock, and the South Siders initially seemed to calm their fans by resurrecting their offense. But in the 10th inning, all hopes were obliterated by the bullpen, and the fans’ ire returned with a vengeance.
The South Siders’ rejuvenated offense has been a salve on the fans’ bloodied hopes for a postseason. Every hit has been a healing catharsis for fans’ high expectations, so watching the bullpen blow this game is agonizing. Unless the White Sox climb their way back to better than .500, La Russa will continue to be a slow-moving target.
While it’s great that the White Sox offense has shown some life, all the pieces need to be in place to secure a postseason. Leury going 3-for-5 in the 8-spot was validating for fans who criticize La Russa’s seemingly random batting orders, and hopefully García’s success means he’ll stay further down the lineup. I have a feeling that Old Man La Russa just might use this to justify putting him back in the 1-spot.
“I like it when they care enough to be upset,” La Russa said during postgame interviews, when asked about the chant.
Meanwhile, I have a feeling that my dad’s baseball boycott is just a threat. He’s been saying this since I was a tiny child.
So on behalf of my dad, we love you, Chicago White Sox, no matter how much you’ve hurt us. We’ve been under your spell for our entire lives, and sometimes it helps to vent.