The White Sox looked to turn around the momentum from their abject beating at the hands of the Astros on Thursday, and they failed to do so in painful fashion, falling 5-2 to the Cleveland Guardians in what feels like somewhere between the 15th and 50th game lost after leading into the seventh. Lance Lynn acquitted himself well for the second straight start, but the offense once again fell flat on their face against a pitcher who came out with probably his best stuff of the season, blowing an opportunity to pull out a critical win against the division frontrunners.
Like we said last night: Let’s take a look at this tragedy of a game, shall we?
Lance Lynn delivered another solid start this evening, though he still doesn’t quite resemble the pitcher who bulldozed his way to a third place Cy Young finish last year. We did get a twirl or two, at least.
Lance Lynn, Elevated 95mph ⛽️— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 20, 2022
6th K pic.twitter.com/75W3qhlIJ5
He threw almost nothing but his fastball and cutter, and for the most part, it worked. The Guardians couldn’t do much against his fastball, and he kept the cutter low in the zone and near the corners of the plate, allowing little hard contact in the air. His fastball velocity remains down a tick from where it perched last year, but the reduction of his arsenal to essentially his two best pitches — the sinker has gotten creamed this season — seems to have done well for his overall effectiveness.
On the whole, Lynn finished with 5 2⁄3 innings pitched, allowing five hits and getting charged with a single earned run along with one walk and six punchouts. His 95 pitches looked like this:
Triston McKenzie was flat-out nasty. Gross. Disgusting. The baseball version of an unguardable basketball player. After starting out on shaky ground and allowing hits to four of the first five hitters he faced, McKenzie absolutely flummoxed the White Sox lineup for the subsequent six innings, setting career highs with 25 swings-and-misses and a whopping 14 strikeouts. Despite low-90s velocity, the spin on McKenzie’s four-seamer gives it a ton of rise, and Sox hitters swung underneath it all night. His mid- to upper-80s slider kept them off-balance and generated weak contact, and not a soul was able to touch his curveball, which drew a whiff a full 60% of the 20 times it was swung at.
McKenzie finished with two earned runs on six hits over seven innings, failing to accompany his 14 strikeouts with a single walk. His 101 total pitches looked like this:
The White Sox came oh-so-close to escaping on the right side of the game’s highest-pressure play, but with the LI at 3.09, Steven Kwan took a 1-2 slider out of the zone from Reynaldo López into the right-field corner for a game-tying triple with two outs in the seventh inning.
López’s 2.22 pLI easily paced both sides tonight.
I had to watch it live, so you get to watch it again ... .234 WPA, on this one.
Somewhat surprisingly, Lance Lynn’s .190 cumulative WPA was the highest for either team.
Hardest hit: The Luke Maile leadoff double that started the trouble in the seventh inning was a game-high 106.5 mph.
Weakest contact: Also in the seventh inning, Myles Straw set the pace on the opposite end with a 53.1 mph ground out.
Luckiest hit: José Ramírez’s first inning infield single carried a .100 xBA.
Toughest out: Steven Kwan’s line drive out to end the eighth inning had a .700 xBA, highest of a non-hit tonight.
Longest hit: The xBA on this fly ball from José Ramírez was a lot higher than .100, and it traveled 390 feet, longest of the game.
Magic Number: 2
Oh, you didn’t think we were going to leave without talking about it, right? Tonight makes it TWO separate instances this season of Tony LaRussa choosing to issue an intentional walk with two strikes on the hitter. To boot, he did it immediately after Óscar González swung and missed to make it a 1-2 count. Does it matter that the game had already been broken open and the next batter ended the inning? Absolutely not! It’s a joke of a strategy that would be a fireable offense for any other manager in baseball currently undergoing the season the White Sox are, relative to expectations. Has it ever been more clear that if this iteration of the Sox — the one on which Rick Hahn has clearly staked his reputation, if not his job — is destined to win anything, it won’t be with this gargoyle in the dugout?
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Jake Suddreth, currently a free agent after being released out of the White Sox organization, with a pitcher’s perspective on what it means to have your manager show such little confidence in you:
I will never understand this? Like just go ahead and tell your pitcher you don’t trust them to get one more strike/out? https://t.co/Ruwzu9XLZR— Jake Suddreth (@Jsudds44) August 20, 2022
Hard-hit is any ball off the bat at 95 mph or more
LI measures pressure per play
pLI measures total pressure faced in-game
Whiff a swing-and-miss
WPA win probability added measures contributions to the win
xBA expected batting average
Who was tonight’s MVP?
This poll is closed
Lance Lynn (5 2⁄3 IP, ER, 2 H, BB, 6 SO)
Yoán Moncada (1-for-4, RBI)
José Abreu (2-for-4, RBI)
Elvis Andrus (Is On The Team; Made A Nice Tag)
Who was tonight’s Cold Cat?
This poll is closed
Reynaldo López (IP, 3 ER, 3 H, SO)
Andrew Vaughn (0-for-3, 2 SO)
Elvis Andrus (0-for-4, 2 SO)
Tony LaRussa (He Really Did It Again)
Us (Continuing To Watch A Team That Gives Us Tony LaRussa)