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MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Chicago White Sox
Jake Burger, bombs.
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White Sox 7, Guardians 2: Revenge of the first basemen

Sheets, Vaughn, Burger all homer as South Siders win second straight

After a beyond-frustrating 7-12 record against Cleveland to epitomize a beyond-frustrating 2022 season, the White Sox (16-28) have won their first two matchups of 2023 with the rival Guardians (19-23), who now sit a mere four games better than our lowly stature.

The White Sox offense came alive while Cleveland’s ... didn’t, failing to homer for the 24th time this year, handily the most in the league. The Guardians are currently on pace for 88 home runs, which would be the lowest home run total in a non-shortened season since 1992.

Frankly, there isn’t a whole lot to tell about this one, other than you might be able to use it to justify Rick Hahn’s dedication to drafting first basemen in the first round between 2016-19, if one happened the miracle that is the Chicago White Sox solely through this particular game. Cleveland threw a mediocre starting pitcher, and while he was able to navigate his way through the order one time while limiting the damage to this Gavin Sheets gopherball, it wasn’t going to work the second time through.

That blast tied the game at one after a game-opening walk to Steven Kwan came around to score on a Josh Bell double to start the action. But indeed, one time through was all the Sox needed: The first time Peyton Battenfield saw Andrew Vaughn tonight, he threw him a pretty fat fastball over the middle of the plate.

Peyton Battenfield’s second-inning pitches to Andrew Vaughn
Baseball Savant

Vaughn didn’t put his best swing on it, got underneath the ball, and skied it to center for an out.

A chart of Vaughn’s second-inning F9
Baseball Savant

The next time Battenfield saw Vaughn, hardly an inning later, he did the same thing.

Battenfield’s fourth-inning locations to Vaughn
Baseball Savant

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ...

The fireworks were just beginning, as were Battenfield’s woes navigating a second trip through the White Sox lineup. Later in that same fourth inning, after Yasmani Grandal’s single added another baserunner (Grandal would later leave the game after his second single with hamstring soreness), Jake Burger continued to stake a claim to being the best 7-hole hitter in baseball with yet another dinger to give the Sox a firm, 4-1 lead.

After squeaking through the fourth, Terry Francona made the mistake of sending out Battenfield to make his way through the fifth, where he was instantly greeted by an Andrew Benintendi double and Yoán Moncada single to extend the lead to 5-1.

Cleveland added another run via a bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning, but by that point, it didn’t matter. Grandal’s second single came around to score (in the form of pinch-runner Adam Haseley) via Tim Anderson single — what it would be to get his power stroke back — before tacking on another after an error, hit, and RBI fielder’s choice.

The line was spotless from the White Sox bullpen; Reynaldo López looked sharp, nearly working his way out of an inherited bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh before ceding the aforementioned walk. Joe Kelly pitched an unblemished eighth inning, his second consecutive 1-2-3 outing, and Kendall Graveman wrapped up the relatively brief but exciting (by 2023 standards) affair with a 1-walk-2-3 ninth inning.

The Sox will go for their first sweep of the 2023 season at 1:10 p.m. CT tomorrow afternoon, when Dylan Cease is set to square up with lefthander Logan T. Allen (not to be confused with erstwhile Cleveland lefthander Logan S. Allen, traded away in 2022) at Guaranteed Rate Field. See you there!


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