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Bullpen melts down in 5-2 loss

Tony La Russa intentionally walks another batter after a 1-2 count

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Guardians
Terrible Tony: Thanks for wasting the contending window.
Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox came out early, but they couldn’t hold down the Cleveland Guardians for the later part of the night, falling, 5-2.

The Good Guys started hot! AJ Pollock displayed excellent defense yesterday afternoon, and for today, Pollock took the first pitch of the game to center field for a leadoff single. Eloy Jiménez doubled to put ducks on the pond. White Sox fans have seen this film before with a not-so-good ending, but José Abreu weakly hit a slider for a 57.6 mph RBI infield single. Yoán Moncada, who has been red-hot as of late, tallied an RBI single of his own, but this one found its way to left field. With a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning, the South Siders knew that yesterday’s game was in the rearview mirror, and the focus was winning the opener against Cleveland.

But then, the rest of the game happened.

Lance Lynn felt the energy as well in the first inning. Against a team who does not strike out a whole lot while making a lot of contact, Lynn struck out the side — all on high fastballs.

Triston McKenize settled down after the first and had tallied seven strikeouts through four innings. Josh Harrison broke up the high-rising strikeout number and found a way to double off of McKenize to open the fifth inning, and he made his way to third base on a wild pitch that took Austin Hedges sliding down the dugout stairs and out of the game.

With a runner on third with zero outs, easy run, right? Nah. McKenzie struck out Seby Zavala, Pollock, and Andrew Vaughn on 13 pitches.

Dangerous hitter José Ramírez could not stay quiet for long during this evening. With one out in the sixth, J-Ram homered to right field for a solo shot and a 2-1 deficit. However, the play earlier saw Amed Rosario attempt to stretch a single to a double and was thrown out at second base to open the bottom half of the frame, so a 2-1 White Sox lead very well could have been a tie game at this point.

Though, that would simply not matter. The Sox bullpen exploded in the seventh inning. Luke Maile doubled to left with one out, and Lynn induced a Myles Straw ground out, which advanced Maile to third with two outs. Almost out of the woods? Nope. Reynaldo López came in for relief, and the dominos began to fall. Steven Kwan tripled Maile home for a 2-2 game.

Rosario, wanting revenge for his bad base-running play in the sixth, singled on the first pitch he saw and brought home Kwan for a 3-2 Cleveland lead.

To make matters worse, Jake Diekman entered the game and gave up three walks (one intentional ... on a 1-2 count to Oscar Gonzalez)

and a single for a total of two runs and a swelled, 5-2 deficit. For the third reliever in the inning, Jimmy Lambert produced a fly out on his second pitch to end the seventh frame.

In a game that needed to be won, two of the better bullpen arms had a bad night.

As if the night could not get any worse between the Sox bullpen, lack of Sox offense, and Tony La Russa, reliever Trevor Stephan hit Andrew Vaughn with two outs, and the ball veered off his shoulder and riocheted to his mouth (all teeth intact, but a busted upper lip). Vaughn stayed in the game, but Eloy Jiménez left the game after tweaking something following a swing-and-miss.

Given the injury shuffles, the White Sox lost their DH in another TLR masterstroke, inserting Lambert into the No. 2 slot in the lineup. He did not bat.

Tonight’s game was the epitome of this year’s season: Good start, bad managing, injuries, and hitters and pitchers never being in sync.

The Sox fall to the Guardians, 5-2, and lose another game in the standings.

Johnny Cueto (5-5, 2.78 ERA) will square off against Shane Bieber (8-6, 3.18 ERA) with a goal to tie the series, tomorrow at 5:10 p.m. CT.