Baseball giveth, and baseball taketh away.
The holiday weekend began with two thrilling wins over the division rival Minnesota Twins. Still, the Chicago White Sox could not complete the sweep, losing today’s finale by a final score of 5-1. The Sox fall to 67-67, returning to the .500 mark like that ex you keep finding your way back to even though you know they’ll just break your heart.
Taking two of three from the second-place Twins is great, but this loss still stings. Not because the White Sox had to sweep; it’s hard to take three in a row from anyone, anywhere. Not because it was a horrible loss, because it wasn’t. We have seen much worse. (Hell, we don’t even need to go back too far to find a more gut-wrenching loss — need I remind you of the extra-inning, Adam Eaton dropped pop-up fiasco in August 25’s loss to Baltimore? Yeah. Yikes.)
It was because this game was very, very winnable. There wasn’t one glaring mistake that I could point to and say, “THAT’S why they lost!” It was a lot of little decisions and plays that didn’t break in Chicago’s favor. It was the failure to execute the safety squeeze. It was stabbing at a lazy slider with a runner on third. It was letting the second-tier bullpen guys eat it in the late innings.
This game was death by a thousand little paper cuts.
Things started well — defensively. The guys were throwing some leather in the early innings. Leury García made not one but two outstanding catches on pop-ups in shallow left field that Andrew Vaughn had zero chance of making. And the only actual outfielder we started in the outfield today, AJ Pollock, robbed Gio Urshela of a hit in the second inning.
Lucas Giolito was solid in his start, going five innings and striking out five. His first three innings were great, with his curveball looking sexy. He had a rough fourth, but kept the Twins off of the board. Then, in the fifth, he made one mistake to Carlos Correra, and that was it.
Giolito’s record falls to 10-9, but he improved his ERA to 5.21. So, he has that going for him, at least, which is nice.
What wasn’t nice today was the offense. The White Sox were, once again, faced with a lukewarm opponent in Dylan Bundy and couldn’t do a thing with him. Bundy allowed only two hits all afternoon. It was only after Bundy had left the game that the White Sox were able to make any progress at all, with an RBI double from Pollock in the seventh inning.
It was the only action the otherwise flaccid offense would see all day. The White Sox attempted a squeeze play to score the tying run, but Leury Legend laid down probably the worst-placed bunt of all time, and it was an effortless out at the plate for Jhoan Duran and the Twins.
After the Twins scored a crucial insurance run on a wild pitch from Jake Diekman, things just kind of sputtered out. With the offense unable to produce, a two-run lead must have felt insurmountable for the White Sox. Maybe that’s why we saw Vince Velasquez in the ninth inning and let him wear it as he gave up an additional three runs, including one scored by old friend Billy Hamilton. (Et tu, Billy?)
Although today’s loss bums me out, I haven’t lost all hope. Right now, all eyes are on the Cleveland Guardians, who are currently losing to the Seattle Mariners and in a delay. A Cleveland loss would go a long way in taking the sting out of today’s game. Starting tomorrow, the White Sox will begin a pivotal series against those same Mariners.
The White Sox hold their destiny and their season is in their own hands. It’ll be interesting to watch, and I stand, as ever, ready to get my heart broken again.
Today’s scorecard highlights:
- In the second inning, Gio’s curveball was looking tasty and AJ was makin’ plays in center. Life was good.
- Except when it wasn’t. Andrew Vaughn looked pretty bad in left field today, especially on this play that put Kyle Garlick on third base.
- Where’d you learn how to bunt, Leury?
- Sox lose. Whomp whooommmp.