The White Sox dropped the first game to the Kansas City Royals tonight, bringing them right back to .500. They were one game above for roughly a day, which was absolutely thrilling while it lasted. Can’t wait to do it again sometime (if we are pacing the season correctly, in like two days)!
While Michael Kopech came into today’s game after a rough five-game stretch, he put together another quality start for the White Sox. While he did give up two solo shots — a bomb to Salvador Perez in the fourth and a more modest dinger to Whit Merrifield in the sixth — he did his job, limiting Kansas City to just six hits and two runs, while consistently deceiving Royals batters with his fastball and striking out three in the process. Kopech maintains a 3.12 ERA on the year, and while he might get dinged with the L, the offense is what truly failed him tonight.
Daniel Lynch came into the game with a 5.05 ERA, and in his first start back off of the IL, he fooled White Sox batters early, striking out five in the first three innings. South Side batters seemed to be able to get hits throughout the game, but they could never string more than one or two together, or get that extra-base hit to bring runners home. It’s brutal looking at the box score, because 10 hits should be able to get you more then ONE sole run. This team seems to be immune to home runs, or really anything that is not a single, as they have been outscored by 67 at home.
White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino loves the idea of players hitting for average, getting on base, moving runners to score runs, etc. Menechino logic says that if everyone on the team can hit .300 that’s a winning team, right? Well, maybe not if they can’t hit more than a single at a time, Frank! Now listen, I am obviously not a professional baseball coach, but I do know the game and have eyes. Whatever Menechino is trying to do with the offense is not working, and based on the team’s record and stats this season, it doesn’t seem like it ever really was.
Many teams tend to succeed at home in front of their home crowd, but the White Sox have just a .668 OPS in Chicago, the fifth-worst home OPS in the league. They have the second-best batting average against left-handed pitching, but couldn’t even muster a run against one tonight. This team is terrible at stringing together hits, especially extra-base hits. Don’t even think about a home run, as the Sox have just 88 of them, ranking 26th and ahead of only last-place teams, outside of the Cleveland Guardians (who seemingly only hit their home runs against the Sox). For context, the Yankees have 181 long balls on the year.
While the Sox didn’t score more than one run tonight, 10 hits is still a substantial amount in a game, with Tim Anderson, Andrew Vaughn, and Eloy Jiménez combining for six with two apiece. The Pale Hose remained scoreless until Leury García and Seby Zavala strung hits together to get a rally going in the bottom of the seventh, setting the stage for Gavin Bonds to come in to pinch-hit. He hit a sac fly to left field to score Leury ... close enough to Barry?
The rally kept going after a Moncada walk, putting the tying run at second for Vaughn. Vaughn already had a couple of hits on the day, but he came up a bit short after Whit Merrifield made a great defensive play to get out of the inning.
The bats were bad tonight, but so was some of their luck.
Let’s also make note of the boneheaded base-running error for the fourth out of the inning from Seby.
Outside of the abysmal offensive performance, the defense and the bullpen held their own, keeping the team in a position to win the game until the last out. Moncada at third base accounted for nearly a quarter of the team’s 27 outs, accompanied by Anderson and Vaughn who also made some key plays throughout the game.
Tony called on José Ruiz for the eighth, a skeptical decision considering how Ruiz typically performs in high-leverage situations. He held his own, however, paving the way for Jimmy Lambert to pitch a flawless ninth, striking out two of his three batters. Lambert has shaped up really well this season, posting an efficient 2.05 ERA.
As the trade deadline approaches, not only do the White Sox have a few roster gaps to fill and a hitting coach who is living in la-la land, their manager is literally half-asleep in the dugout by the second inning. Hear me out: I know how excruciatingly boring White Sox games can be when they forget how to baseball (about half the games, at least), but if I can manage to stay awake to write about some of the garbage they put on the field, surely so can the club manager, right?
Tony continues to play Leury García on a regular basis, misuses his bullpen during high-leverage situations, and makes pinch-hitting decisions that never make any logical sense. See tonight, as Tony decided to effectively replace Vaughn with Sheets. Why would you replace one of your top hitters for one of the least effective? If Anderson hadn’t grounded into a double play to end the game, call me crazy but I’d rather have Vaughn coming up to bat than Josh Harrison.
There are still two games left in this series, but losing to a last-place team while trying to crawl back into a division race is pretty unacceptable. So far in this crucial stretch of 19 games against losing teams, the White Sox are 3-3. That’s not going to get it done.
Whatever moves and acquisitions Rick Hahn makes before the trade deadline, I don’t think any one player can help improve the deeply fundamental organizational issues that linger around this team. I know, I know, something something about enjoying the ride. It’s so old watching the Guardians and Twins win tight games to keep themselves in the playoff chase, while the White Sox struggle to even give themselves a chance to score a run.
The ride to .500 is set to be an incredible journey, so sit back, relax, and enjoy, y’all!