Given all of the opportunities left on the table during their two losses (and even during their two wins), it’s hard to be thrilled with the way the White Sox played this opening weekend. That being said, a season-opening split with the defending champion Astros — a team and organization that’s repeatedly shown itself to be several competitive tiers above our own over the past several seasons — is hard to complain about, too. Despite yet another bases-loaded, no-out situation turning into zero runs and a near-meltdown in the ninth inning from a flustered Reynaldo López, the Sox never trailed in this one, boarding the plane back to Chicago with a 2-2 record and a lot to work on — but also a fair share of promising starts to the season and an opportunity to put their “chip on the shoulder” rhetoric where their mouth is over the coming homestands and road trips.
Luis García is a familiar face to Sox fans, of course, having been somewhat responsible for what is, pathetically, the undisputed peak of Rick Hahn’s grand rebuild, having lasted just 2 2⁄3 innings in his 2021 ALDS start and, of course, putting the runners on base that ultimately scored with Leury García’s go-ahead, three-run blast.
García was a fair bit more successful this time around, but like in 2021, his effectiveness waned after getting through the order once, and a lineup more apt to do damage with runners in scoring position than this White Sox group probably would have stuck more on him than the three runs over five innings he was ultimately charged with. He worked primarily with a high-80s cutter that he threw a little more than half of the time to good enough effectiveness, running a 33% CSW rate and getting chases a little more than 40% of the time he threw it out of the zone. The trouble García had putting it in the zone, however, ultimately came back to haunt him, as he simply got crushed whenever he was forced into throwing his mediocre low- to mid-90s fastball, which was tagged for exit velocities of 106, 110, and 113 mph the three times Sox hitters put it in play. Not García’s best outing, for sure, but the damage would have been far worse were it not for his back-to-back strikeouts and a ground out to escape a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second inning, and one would imagine he’s fairly satisfied with his final line.
On the whole, García’s 91 pitches looked like this:
Tim Anderson stepped to the plate with two outs in that aforementioned bases-loaded jam in the second inning with a Leverage Index (LI) of 3.08, making his subsequent ground out to second base the most high-pressure play of the game.
At a relatively tame 1.51, the most cumulative pressure of the day fell on the shoulders of Gregory Santos, who managed to get through it with just a single run allowed in his inning of work.
The RMS Luis Robert Jr. Breakout Express has finally departed from Southampton! After failing to pick up an extra-base hit in any of the first three games of the series, Robert followed up a first-inning double by opening the scoring with his first blast of the year, an absolute rocket to left field that gave the White Sox the lead and also added a game-high .154 WWPA.
Hardest hit: A 113.4 mph double from the second batter of the game! *Gestures excitedly at the previously written words reading “Luis Robert Jr. Breakout Express.”
Weakest contact: *Gestures less excitedly at former SSS stalwart Colleen Sullivan “We love bunts!” Especially the one today from Mauricio Dubón that ricocheted off the bat at just 30.5 mph.
Luckiest hit: Welcome to the Six Pack, Oscar Colás! The rookie’s eighth-inning single against Seth Martinez had just a .120 xBA, but it’s all the same in the box score!
Toughest out: Tough scene for David Hensley, who absolutely smoked a 107 mph line drive whose .680 xBA certainly would have borne fruit if Oscar Colás hadn’t been standing just a quick run away from the ball’s landing spot, as right fielders are wont to do now and then.
Longest hit: Tal’s Hill legacy lives on, as we watch a red-hot Tim Anderson smoke the ball 415 feet and somehow only wind up with a double to show for it.
Magic Number: 5
With his two doubles and a big fly today, Yoán Moncada is already up to five extra-base hits on the season after four games, a welcome change from 2022’s glacial start that didn’t see him record his fifth XBH until June 15, 28 games into his campaign.
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