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Soft contact leads to a hard loss, 8-2

Chicago continues to struggle against Cleveland

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Chicago White Sox
Dark and Stormy Night: Not a bright second-half start.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago White Sox (46-47) fell early, but softly. Soft contact galore aided the Cleveland Guardians (47-44) to victory, so although it was soft, a fall is a fall.

Lucas Giolito needed to come out strong, but simply put, he didn’t. In the first inning of the game, he gave up four hits with only one of the hits being hard-hit (more than 95 mph exit velocity).

In addition to the soft contact, he gave up a practically improbable double to José Ramírez (.050 xBA). With luck against him, Giolito struggled to record outs, and he only recorded two strikeouts — which occurred in the first inning.

As for scoring, Steven Kwan singled his way onto base to begin the game, and Josh Naylor singled him home after Ramírez’s double. Owen Miller’s sacrifice fly for out No. 2 doubled the score, 2-0 in favor of Cleveland.

Remember the one hard-hit ball in the first? Andrés Giménez recorded his 11th home run of the season — a two-run shot for a 4-0 lead.

The soft contact just kept on coming in the second inning. Lucas allowed three more hits, with the hardest of the three being at 72.9 mph. Ahmed Rosario recorded an RBI single and Ramírez snagged an RBI ground out. After two innings, the Good Guys were down, 6-0.

Andrew Vaughn and Eloy Jiménez turned the tables and recorded hits at 110.7 mph and 106.4 mph, respectively, but as the Sox have been doing, they were both singles. Extra-base hits continue to elude the Sox.

The South Siders found themselves on the board in the third inning. Tim Anderson singled to open the bottom half of the frame. Yoán Moncada followed with a walk, and José Abreu eventually doubled both of them home for a 6-2 score. Abreu’s two-bagger was the only extra-base hit of the game for the White Sox.

After three innings and 64 pitches of work, Giolito was out of the game. As someone who is a huge supporter of Gio, this season has been tough to witness. He is better than this, and he knows he is better than this, but there are factors keeping him from being his 2019-21 self, unfortunately. I’ll keep rooting for him to find a way to be Luc-ace G-elite-o; the Sox need him to be that.

Jimmy Lambert, who has impressed this year, recorded two clean innings of work. Matt Foster, however, continues his struggling season. In two-thirds of an inning, Foster allowed a single (86.5 mph) and a walk. Tanner Banks came in for the lefty-lefty matchup, but instead of an out, Josh Naylor drove in both baserunners with a double — both runs charged to Foster.

As for the Sox, they fail to find momentum, fail to work counts, and fail to find the long ball. This team is built on power, but the power does not come out as often as it should.

For a team that was brilliant at home last season, it’s not so much the case this year:

The Sox drop the first game of this four-game set against the Guardians, and they are going to have to find a way to win this series and gain ground. A series draw is the minimum expectation — and at home, that’s still a failure.

Simply put, there is still (a little) time left, but this is a series where the White Sox have to be competitive. Three wins of four was perfect against the Twins, and the Sox still have that chance against Cleveland, but this is not a convincing start to the series.

Whatever it takes to provide a boost to this team and capitalize on their strengths needs to happen. And it needs to happen now, or else, it’s a wasted year — which I do not like to say.

Tomorrow has a split doubleheader scheduled. Johnny Cueto (4-4, 2.80 ERA) will share the mound with Triston McKenzie (7-6, 3.20 ERA) for the early opener, and Lance Lynn (1-3, 7.50 ERA) will square off against Konnor Pilkington (1-2, 4.24 ERA) in the nightcap.

Fox Sports will cover both broadcasts at 12:10 p.m. CT and 6:15 p.m. CT.