Marcus Stroman never got into the kind of groove he’s been accustomed to for most of this season, and the damage started early in what can only be described as a pinball-esque first five innings. With the first out having already been recorded, Tim Anderson got a chance to remind us why he’s such a dynamo at the top of the plate when he’s got it going, kicking his speed into gear to beat out a chopper up the middle that was initially ruled an out and immediately moving to third base when Luis Robert Jr. did his thing and smoked a double into the left-center field gap. Moments later, Eloy Jiménez plated both of them when he smacked one 102 mph back up the middle for an early 2-0 lead.
In traditional 2023 White Sox fashion, though, they wasted no time in giving it right back. The Cubs nearly mirrored the Sox first inning in their half of the second. With one out in the books, Lance Lynn plunked Christopher Morel with a curveball that flew out of the hand early, and he wasted no time moving to third on a misplay of a Miles Mastrobuoni single to center that put both runners in scoring position. After two more singles, the game was tied at two.
The ball and the crowd were jumping as much as we’ve seen them this year, and the Sox took the lead right back in the third, giving the Cubs a taste of their own medicine from last night when Andrew Benintendi reached base on a walk, stole second, and quickly scored on Anderson’s second hit of the day.
After a pedestrian third inning, the Sox lineup managed to chase Stroman in the fourth, a rare show of force against a starter who’s completed at least five innings in 19 of 21 tries this year. Jake Burger got the fireworks going with the first longball of the night, launching a 420-foot no doubter into the bleachers on a sinker that caught just a little too much plate:
Oscar Colás subsequently singled on a line drive to center field, and after Stroman bounced back to strike out Seby Zavala, the wheels fell off. Colás stole second base and then moved to third on a trademark single from Andrew Benintendi, and when Tim Anderson drew a walk, Robert drew more blood when he beat out a fielder’s choice that left the bases still loaded.
And they were still loaded for a guy seemingly beyond determined to make the Cubs regret trading him. Jiménez stepped up to the plate and promptly smacked another two-bagger, driving in his third and fourth runs of the day and pushing the Sox lead to 7-3.
Of course, these are the 2023 White Sox, and if there was any chance of things going easy from there, they wouldn’t. Despite coming one strike away from working out of a bases-loaded jam, Lynn’s career in Chicago may have come to a deflating close, potentially leaving the organization with his last pitch having been a hanging cutter to Christopher Morel that was subsequently lined to left field for two runs — and a 7-5 ballgame.
Fortunately, Joe Kelly was able to come to the rescue, striking out Mastrobuoni to end the jam.
Wait, that’s not what happened. Kelly did indeed strike out the Italian national, but on a spiked curveball that Zavala was unable to corral, leaving Mastrobuoni safe at first base, with another run home.
Then there was a hit-by-pitch. Then there was a walk. Then there was another walk, and the Cubs found themselves with the lead after trailing, 7-2. Aaron Bummer entered the game and promptly got out of the inning, but it didn’t matter. The White Sox offense was essentially done for the night, mustering a grand total of one hit against four innings of Javier Assad, Julian Merryweather, and Mark Leiter Jr. The Cubs hitters, on the other hand, were not done, as Ian Happ and Cody Bellinger did a favor for their fans in the outfield with a pair of blasts against Keynan Middleton in the eighth.
Touki Toussaint quieted bats down for the ninth, but no matter, as Cubs closer Adbert Alzolay did the same, putting a bow on a 10-7 loss that will certainly sit near the top of a very long list of painful losses this season.
This is baseball, however, and there’s another game tomorrow. The Cubs are skipping town, but the White Sox remain at home for a four-game set against the Cleveland Guardians, starting tomorrow at 7:10 p.m.
Six Pack of Stats
The pressure peaked in the fifth inning, when Mike Tauchman came to the plate with the bases loaded, two outs, a one-run deficit, and a 4.18 LI.
Nico Hoerner saw the most pressure of anyone in this contest, pilling up a 1.73 pLI.
Come on back, Mike Tauchman: That walk added .136 WPA to the Cubs’ chances the most of any play tonight.
Nico Hoerner’s two hits and RBI were good enough for a .273 WPA, tops in the game.
Tonight’s Burger Bomb clocked in with a 111.6 mph exit velocity.
Miles Mastrobuoni’s ninth inning ground out trickled off the bat at just 47.6 mph.
The Andrew Benintendi single that helped start the fourth inning fireworks had a .080 xBA.
Seiya Suzuki drove one 392 feet to center field in the third inning that was good for a .710 xBA and would’ve been a homer in nine parks, but it found Luis Robert Jr.’s glove for the toughest out of the day.
Magic Number: 21
Just 21 minutes after the score went final, the White Sox issued a press release announcing the trade of Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López.