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White Sox fall to Rangers in 12, 8-6

Surprise pitching, bad base-running, and more incomprehensible bullpen decisions mar a homestand finale loss

Texas Rangers v Chicago White Sox
Michael Kopech leaves the field after a pop in his right knee in the first inning.
Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Three pitches in, this looked like a good day for the White Sox, as the wind held down a Marcus Semien shot to left and AJ Pollock made a leaping catch to save a home run.

Ten pitches later, all the good was gone. Michael Kopech lurched sideways on a pitch, and then did it again on a practice throw, and had to leave the game — a pop in his right knee that was serious enough to need to leave, but not so much he isn’t penciled in for next Sunday night at Houston.

The shock of that may have eliminated chants of “Fire Tony!” later on. Too bad, because they were warranted.

While the possible long-term impact for Kopech and the team appears to be more inconvenience than devastation, the short-term effect on Sunday was that Reynaldo López had to take over. ReyLo fared well, getting through the second inning on a hit and three strikeouts.

The Sox even had the lead, as Rangers starter Jon Gray got two quick outs in the first. But then, trouble started a-brewin’ as Gray gave up a single to Luis Robert, a walk to José Abreu (on a 3-2, of course — he’s gotten really good at that), and a Jake Burger seeing-eye dribbler up the middle. (That dribbler would be Burger’s only hit on the day, ending his seven-game extra-base-hit streak.)

López had been worked hard lately, so the HOFBP brought in tomorrow’s scheduled starter, Johnny Cueto, to make his second relief appearance of his 15-year career. Maybe the HOFBP forgot Cueto was scheduled. Starters generally need a lot longer to warm up, so it was no surprise that, fresh out of the whirlpool and not even stretched, Cueto was greeted by a single and a two-run homer by very light-hitting Eli White. Cueto then settled down, the only further damage a sac fly by White in the fourth, in an inning which could have been disastrous if not for yet more pathetic base-running by Texas, Ezequiel Duran being caught off of third on a nifty 2-4-5.

Unfortunately Gray, who came in with an ERA of 5.28, settled down as well, eventually tossing six innings on three-hit ball, with three walks and 10 K’s.

Fortunately for the Sox, Gray had reached 102 pitches, and the Texas bullpen wasn’t up to preserving his 3-1 lead. Well, the Texas bullpen and defense. Duran blew a gimme double-play grounder at third, opening the way for a two-run Andrew Vaughn single to first that really should have been caught.

The game remained tied 3-3 into the 10th, and stayed that way into the 11th because neither team could even bring in the freebie runner from second.

In the 11th, Duran made up for his earlier failings with a three-run homer to left. That seemed like the ballgame, but in the bottom half, the White Sox got lucky. With Vaughn as the Manfred Man, Leury García got hit by a pitch and Danny Mendick hit a very catchable fly to left-center, but the left fielder Charlie Culberson and center fielder Eli White collided when Culberson lost the ball in the sun, resulting in a triple and White having to leave the game.

Want more luck? How about the game-tying single by Pollock?

The runs in the 11th were on José Ruiz’s tab, and Matt Foster came in for the 12th to give up a two-run single to Jonah Heim. The Sox went down quietly in the bottom half, needing only two batters to do so, thanks to incomprehensible baserunning by Manfred Man Luis Robert, who for some reason decided to try for third on Burger’s fly to left even though his run would only have cut the lead to 8-7.

Now, both teams ran through a whole lot of pitchers, but one very eligible pitcher was noticeably missing from the White Sox effort, not that the TV crew noticed. Liam Hendriks, who’s quite willing to take the ball every day and go two innings if needed, hadn’t pitched since Friday, and before then since Tuesday — in fact, he’s only pitched four innings in June.

Why wasn’t he in?


Me: Excuse me, Mr. Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person, sir, but might it not possibly, just possibly, been a good idea to use Mr. Hendriks at some point?

HOFBP: What do you know, you ignorant young whippersnapper? [I’m only 75.] I’m Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person and I invented the closer, and the closer only closes if it’s a closing situation, and since we never had the lead late it was never a closing situation, so the closer didn’t pitch. You have to be some kind of stupid not to see that.

ME: Of course, Mister Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person. How foolish of me to even ask. Please forgive me.

HOFBP: Don’t you ever bother me with a question again.

Anyhow, so much for getting healthy against the Rangers, either figuratively or literally. The White Sox are off to Detroit for a three-game series. Lance Lynn, coming off the IL and originally intended for Tuesday night, is now the scheduled starter for tomorrow night.