In what turned into a ninth inning nail-biter between the crosstown Chicago Rivals, the White Sox were able to pull through and secure the victory, improving their Spring Training record to 7-5. A White Sox W on a Friday afternoon against the Cubs? Sign me up!
Lucas Giolito was looking a bit like his former self this afternoon, averaging 91-94 mph as reported by James Fegan. While that’s not lightning speed, he seemed to have much better control of the ball. He came out strong in the first inning, starting with a line out from old friend Nick Madrigal, followed by back-to-back strikeouts of Ian Happ and Cody Bellinger, two of the Cubs’ more threatening batters.
Giolito also proved he’s still able to work his way out of innings when the pressure is on, getting out of a jam after he walked Zack McKinstry to load the bases in the bottom of the second, but snapping right back and ringing up Tucker Barnhart on three straight strikes — THAT’S the Lucas we know.
To cap off his outing, Giolito was charged an unearned run thanks to throwing errors by both Oscar Colás and Seby Zavala that allowed Ian Happ to score in the third for the first run of the game. In his three innings, Giolito gave up three hits, walked two, and struck out six of his 14 batters — a much better outcome than his start last week, bringing his Spring Training ERA to 3.60.
The White Sox also jumped on Drew Smyly in the first inning with a Andrew Benintendi single, but the ghost of Joe McEwing infiltrated Sloan Park and sent Andrew home after a Yasmani Grandal double, and he never had a chance. I know we have Eddie Rodriguez coaching third base now, but are we sure it isn’t Joe in disguise? Seems fishy. Anyways, the White Sox score zero and the Cubs escape ... this time.
Colás continues to shine at the plate, kicking the second inning off with another base hit. The powerful lefty is batting .385 with an .830 OPS in his 26 Spring Training at-bats — the most at-bats on the team — leading Jake Burger, Gavin Sheets, and even Andrew Vaughn in batting average who have all had over 20 ABs. Something tells me we’ll be seeing a lot more of Colás come the regular season.
The Good Guys finally got on the board in the fifth inning, with a Jake Marisnick leadoff walk to set Bryan Ramos up to take Cubs lefty, Ryan Borucki, deep to center. Just like that the White Sox took the lead, 2-1.
Bryan Ramos sent that one a long, long way! pic.twitter.com/7yWFckvnH3— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 10, 2023
Zavala eventually jumped on the home-run train in the eighth inning, extending the lead to 3-1. It’s kind of fun when your starting catcher and backup catcher are both mashing the ball!
The South Side bullpen had today on lock, shutting down the Cubs offense for five straight innings after Giolito came out of the game. In the fourth through eighth frames, the pen combined for four hits, four strikeouts, and one walk. Contributing to the bullpen success today were Reynaldo López and Nate Fisher. Both continued to thrive in Spring Training, López posting a 2.25 ERA over his four innings, Fisher a 3.38 ERA over his 5 1⁄3 — who needs to pay millions of dollars for relievers when we have them at home, am I right, Rick?
Declan Cronin came out for the White Sox in the ninth, and despite Grandal adding a third insurance run in the top half of the inning, the young righty almost totally blew the save he eventually earned. After a string of singles, Sergio Alcantara was able to drive in a second run for the Cubs to bring them within two, with still only one out. After a mound visit didn’t work, and the Cubs scoring a third run on yet another base hit, Ethan Katz trotted out again and Cronin was able to get the final batter to ground into a double play. Maybe Katz really can work miracles.
Sure, there were a couple of hiccups in today’s victory, but overall this was a game that had plenty of wins outside of just the team W that is recorded in the scorebooks. Starting pitching was on lock, the bullpen held their own and was consistent, hitters made a ton of solid contact ... and they even showed real improvement from last season, like Grandal, who has been absolutely raking with a 1.151 OPS.
There are a lot of positives that continue to come out of these games, hopefully building momentum as we approach Opening Day.
We’ll be back tomorrow at 2:10 p.m. against the San Diego Padres. The delightful Allie Wesel will have our coverage.
Who was the MVP of today’s win?
This poll is closed
Lucas Giolito: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, R, 6 K
Yasmani Grandal: 2-for-4, 2 2B, RBI
Bryan Ramos: 1-for-3, HR, R, 2 RBI
Bullpen sans Declan Cronin: 5 IP, 4 H, BB, 4 K
Who was the cold cat in today’s game?
This poll is closed
Declan Cronin: 1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, K, almost blew the save
Elvis Andrus: 0-for-3, K
Erik Gonzalez: 0-for-2