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Rangers 3, White Sox 2: The offense once again fails Johnny Cueto

Cluelessness against LHP + outfield weaknesses = unnecessary loss to Texas

Chicago White Sox v Texas Rangers
Luis Robert goes 1-for-3 with two walks in his return from the IL.
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

So much for moving on up up from the .500 mark. The White Sox (53-52) drop yet another to the Texas Rangers (47-58), dropping the Sox to 1-3 against Texas in 2022. The best we can shoot for at this point is go for a series split and hope the Guardians and Twins continue to struggle this weekend.

Johnny Cueto had yet another fantastic start and looked strong throughout the majority of his outing. After Marcus Semien lead off the game with a single, Johnny forced a double play and a fly out to quickly squander any hopes of the Rangers scoring a run. Texas were more successful in the second, with Leody Taveras breaking the ice following a Nathaniel Lowe double. Cueto settled in and remained mostly dominant throughout the rest of his outing, giving up just three hits through the sixth.

Outside of a few hits, he was still effective as ever and was able to get out of most of jams he was put into. He was even crisp on defense, fielding his position cleanly, even likely saving a run by covering an open third base when the Rangers attempted to stretch a hit. Texas was able to string some safeties together in the seventh, scoring two runs to put the them up, 3-1. Matt Foster was warming up in the eighth, but thankfully, Tony came to his senses and did not go that route, given Foster’s struggles in high leverage situations.

Johnny came back in for the eighth, and I’ll admit I was skeptical, but he shut Texas down in order to complete the game. Through Cueto’s eighth innings and 106 pitches, he gave up 11 hits, but battled through and made it out with just three earned runs and four strikeouts. Out of the 15 games he has pitched in, Cueto has thrown 12 quality starts, the most of any of our pitchers, and his ERA is now 2.91.

The offense really needs to get it together.

The Sox flirted with some hard hits and base-runners for the first several innings, and without even scoring a hit, they miraculously brought one around to score in the third. Luis Robert flashed his speed in that frame, on an Andrew Vaughn swinging bunt, scoring Chicago’s only run.

The White Sox scoring without even getting a hit? Yeah, that checks out.

The offense struggled again in key situations throughout the game, blowing a bases-loaded opportunity in the first, and grounding into double plays two separate times after that. Some of their at-bats just looked plain bad, and the fact that they only had four hits through seven confirmed that.

Speaking of Luis Robert, he looked great at the plate tonight — he singled in the first, walked and scored a run in the third, and walked again in the fifth. He would have had a third walk if the umpire didn’t decide to change his strike zone in the seventh, ringing Robert up on a pitch way off of the plate. For a guy that hasn’t taken an MLB at-bat in three weeks, has just a 4% walk rate, and was worried that his timing would be off tonight, I will absolutely take it.

The White Sox continuously struggle to score runs to back up their starting pitchers, and tonight was no different. The White Sox are going up against a left-handed pitcher making his MLB debut; surely this would be a good time for the White Sox to showcase their strong ability to hit lefthanders? Right. Not tonight, folks. Instead, the White Sox induced their “make an average-mediocre pitcher look like an All-Star” superpowers. They had plenty of opportunities and base runners throughout the entire game, but continuously failed to produce any runs.

The Sox went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, left nine batters on base, and only got another two hits after Cole Ragans left the game in the fifth — a Vaughn leadoff single in the sixth, and a Moncada triple to score our other run in the eighth. The only other players to get a hit tonight were José Abreu and AJ Pollock — with the only good news being August Abreu continuing to do his thing. Otherwise, it was a pretty pathetic night all around, especially with Adolis García essentially giving us both of our runs tonight.

So much for mashing lefties.

From a defensive perspective, tonight we are reminded of the dysfunction this team has revolving around its outfielders. Let it be known that Vaughn does not belong in the outfield. He got eaten up a couple of times out there, and lacks the positional knowledge to know when to back off a ball to the center fielder, almost causing a collision/injury with Pollock. It’s not Vaughn’s fault that he is out there by any means, he does what he can; however, it is still showcasing the neglect that Rick Hahn has exuded for filling right field.

There are still three more to go in Texas this weekend, but failing to convert these important close games is going to quickly add up. Both the Cleveland Guardians and the Minnesota Twins lost tonight, so the White Sox miss another opportunity to capitalize in the division and pick up a game in a tight race. Tonight was the first time the “core” played together in 2022, yet we were met with the same old story of being unable to produce runs.

Let’s hope the South Siders can provide some support for Dylan Cease and get back on track.