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The South Side Sox Summary: Week 7

Maybe, just maybe, Tony La Russa wasn’t the only problem

Welcome to the SSS Summary — a little review of what happened this past week in Chicago White Sox baseball, including on-the-field play, the front office jibber-jabber, and everything in between. Even if you don’t want to remember what happened, sorry, we will tell you anyway.

Yesterday’s off-day was a welcome break for the South Siders after playing 13 straight contests. Last week, they played the Kansas City Royals for four and the Houston Astros for three. In Week 6, their gameplay looked a bit more promising; however, this past week, the team reverted right back to being downright dreadful. They lost 3-of-4 to the last-place Royals and 2-of-3 to the second-place Astros, ending up at 2-5 on the week and 14-28 overall, sitting 9 1⁄2 back of the first-place Minnesota Twins. If we all thought last year was a torrid disappointment, this year is a colossal collapse.

At one point last week, there were four players from the 26-man rehabbing in Charlotte: Jake Burger, Garret Crochet, Liam Hendriks, and Yoán Moncada. Two of those four made it back to Chicago in Burger and Moncada, and both had pretty solid returns with the big-league club. YoYo went 3-for-11 in the three games against Houston with a big double on Saturday, eventually coming around to score the go-ahead run. Burger went 2-for-4 in his debut on Sunday, with a massive home run that brought the Sox within one. There is still no timetable for the return of Hendriks and Crochet, who are both badly needed in a brutal bullpen that owns the second-worst ERA (5.97) in all of baseball. It may all be a lost cause, anyway.

Many of us fans were so hopeful that a new coaching staff and philosophy could significantly impact the team in a way that would get them back on track. Pedro Grifol and Rick Hahn said all the right things in press conferences and Spring Training interviews, but those words that have not translated into action. Speaking of Hahn, he was nowhere to be found this week. The GM has spoken to the media in all prior homestands this season, but not for this one. Unless he tells us he’s resigning, I’m not sure I want to listen to what he has to say, anyway. If there’s one thing I don’t need more of in my life, it’s Hahnspeak.

The Recaps Worth Revisiting

Tuesday, May 9: White Sox 4, Royals 2

Lucas Giolito had a stellar outing, and fans were excited that he looked like the Gio of old, if for nothing more than bolstering his trade deadline value. He earned his fifth quality start of the season, pitching six innings and giving up only two earned runs on five hits and nine strikeouts. This was the sixth time Lucas had gone at least six innings in a start, and the velocity was up on all three of his pitches. The bullpen of Joe Kelly, Reynaldo López, and Kendall Graveman closed out the last three innings with nine up and nine down. Blasts by Luis Robert Jr. and Andrew Vaughn were the only offense necessary to earn the W.

Saturday, May 13: White Sox 3, Astros 1

Dylan Cease returned to form with his third quality start of the season. After three rough outings, Cease was masterful, surrendering no runs on four hits, two walks, and five strikeouts in six innings pitched. The Sox offense collected 13 hits but only managed to squeak out three runs. It was enough to secure the win, but highlighted the continued issues with driving in runners, as they left nine on base. Luis Robert Jr. provided the offensive power, driving in two of the three runs on a solo shot and line drive single.

The Standout Moment of the Week

The Return of Joe Kelly

We’ve been waiting for this version of Joe Kelly for a while now. It’s been almost exactly a year since he took the field for the first time as a South Sider, on May 9, 2022. He was coming off of a right biceps strain he sustained while appearing as an opener in Game 5 of the 2021 NLCS for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Throughout 2022, Kelly struggled with control issues all season and suffered a few stints on the injured list as well. So far in 2023, he has been one of the most dependable arms out of the pen for the Pale Hose, and this week he was fantastic. In three appearances, he gave up no runs on one hit and no walks and struck out four in 3 1⁄3 innings.

The Defensive Play of the Week

It’s You-Know-Who

I should just automatically leave Robert’s name here every week because it will be Luis nine times out of 10. In Wednesday’s 9-1 loss to the Royals, La Pantera made a spectacular diving grab in left center field in the bottom of the fourth inning to rob Nate Eaton of extra bases.

The Week’s Top Three Biggest Blasts

Robert makes a clean sweep of all three spots. He hit four bombs this week, bringing his total to 11 and tying him with Rafael Devers for the AL lead.

Luis Robert Jr., 430 feet, Tuesday, May 9, Sox Win

Robert’s first homer of the week and eighth of the season was to deep left field in the top of the fourth and tied the game at 1-1.

Luis Robert Jr., 427 feet, Saturday, May 13, Sox Win

La Pantera’s bat has been hot all week and month, for that matter. His four-bagger gave the White Sox a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth.

Luis Robert Jr., 428 feet, Friday, May 12, Sox Lose

Robert’s solo shot on Friday gave the Sox an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, but it would be the only run of the game and not enough to overcome the Astros, who won 5-1.

Other Important Tidbits

The roster of this team is in a constant state of flux. He’s injured, he’s not. He’s DFA’d, he’s recalled. You get whiplash trying to keep track of who’s actually sitting on the bench. Here was the flutter of activity on Wednesday:

Not to be outdone by Jake Burger’s oblique injury, Elvis Andrus decided to get in on the action, too. Maybe the time off will help him find his offense.

So, a few players go off the IL, and a few more go on. The merry-go-round continues. Also, Alex Colomé cleared waivers — surprise, nobody bit — and was then outrighted to Charlotte.

What’s next?

A week of playing our AL Central pals at home is coming up for the Sox. Starting Tuesday, they have a three-game series against the second-place Cleveland Guardians. Then, the mighty Royals will roll into town on Friday for a three-game set. At this point, anything short of a complete six-game sweep probably doesn’t help the South Siders begin to dig themselves out of the hole they’ve created. At that, even going 6-0 would only bring them to 20-28 overall, still eight games below .500. We should all prepare ourselves for a deadline fire sale, because only a full-blown miracle will get this team into contention.


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