[Tonight carries on a tradition ... well, seemingly every-other-year or so ... of a “bullpen day” writing game coverage in the voices of some of our SSS writers. Way back in 2018 it all started, with old favorites like Lurker Laura, mechanical turk, larry, Michael Kenny and even, gasp, KenWo in the lineup. Two years ago, with more of the current SSS crew around, I last took the concept for a spin. Anyway, anything to distract from a possible 100-loss season, right? — B.B.]
Welcome to beautiful Sox Park for a perfect night of White Sox baseball. Yes, you don’t have to remind me, the White Sox are playing, so how perfect can the night be? Well, we’re hoping for the best, and Dylan Cease certainly did his part by executing a 1-2-3 top of the first. That included punchouts of leadoff man Xander Bogaerts and forever thorn in the South Side Fernando Tatís Jr. Even better, Tim Anderson led the White Sox half off with a sharp slap up the middle for a single; congrats to TA on the 1,020th hit of his career. After a bad-luck line out from No. 2 hitter Andrew Benintendi, Eloy Jiménez walked to put two runners on, and the pressure on Padres starter Nick Martinez. Given Eloy had only walked once in his previous 15 games, the signs looked good that the White Sox would be the first to break the ice and that Eloy might have a big game. Unfortunately, Yoán Moncada struck out and University of California-Berkeley Bear Andrew Vaughn flew out to end the threat. Good luck to the White Sox the rest of the way, in their attempt to avoid 100 losses!— Joe Resis
You’d think that handling a quarter of our game coverage all season would get me a night off, especially working from Las Vegas, where the noise gives me a migraine and the smoke gives me asthma. Speaking of migraines and asthma, San Diego did not go quietly in the second inning, as Manny Machado opened up the second inning by crushing an 0-2 slider for a leadoff single and upping the Padres; WPA by 3.8%. He was also pretty chill while smacking ball 103.3 mph:
Machado blowing a bubble & making contact at the same time pic.twitter.com/0AIgMNzivm— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 30, 2023
One out later, Dylan played in traffic again and put another batter on, with a second single, Machado eventually advancing to third base after a fielder’s choice. Given his club’s moldy offense, Cease recognized Machado as the possible deciding run in this game and attacked third baseman Matthew Batten; with almost no room to breathe while under 2.24 pLI, Batten whiffed on a foul-tip strike three that at 96 mph was the hardest ball Cease had thrown all night. In the White Sox half, it took Martinez all of 13 pitches to strike out the side — a side consisting of right fielder (?) Gavin Sheets, second baseman (??) Elvis Andrus and CF (???) Trayce Thompson. What are you doing, Grifol?—Chrystal O’Keefe
It was the Irish-American philosopher Rip Radcliffe who once wrote that, “to strive is to be alive, to consume is to stave off doom, and to suffer is to be human,” but for my money Bill Veeck topped that and inadvertently spoke directly to fans of this 2023 team when he said, “if there is any justice in this world, to be a White Sox fan frees a man from any other form of penance.”
My penance tonight is to have to recap the third inning of a game attended by some 20,491 people who clearly have much more to be penitent for, gearing up and heading to the most meaningless of final-weekend games. And like Alexander the Great in the fight over control of the Elysian Fields, Dylan Cease again toyed with trouble in the top half, struggling yet seeming to control the narrative at will. The sole remaining ChiSox starter heading into 2024 again allowed two singles, and with two outs and runners on the corners again bore down with a high-velocity K — this time, a new game-tops speed of 96.6 mph mowed through Machado on just a fourth pitch. In the White Sox half, it’s as if Veeck himself is scoring the game along with us, tsking under his breath at the utter futility of this “MLB offense.” Surely, Rent-a-Player could have produced more than a team-wide 0.9 WAR, right, Bill? Two more Ks were sandwiched around a TA ground out, and like Boo Radley, jail or house arrest makes no nevermind as White Sox fans used to having management spit on our cupcakes and call it frosting.—Brian O’Neill
Watching the White Sox march into oblivion (98 losses, 99, 100, 101, what are we talking about here, people, it’s all misery) has been a task I’ve largely been able to avoid in a busy month of September. Rarely would I bless workaholism, but I owe it a big hug this fall. But the games I have decided to sit through have been like watching paint dry, bread rise, or [insert your cliché here]. This is some baaaad baseball. Woof. Nothing speaks to the meh of this season than a six-up, six-down fourth inning; on one hand, bravo to Dylan for keeping himself intact all season and stitching together what looks like a strong finale to his 2023. On the other, Nick Martinez is shutting Chicago down, on one hit, while Andrew Vaughn (our No. 3 Golden Spikes professional hitter with an identical 2023 OBP to his career’s and a batting average THREE points higher than his career average) ended the inning with his 125th strikeout of the season. Oof. — Ryiin
You’ve got a team going nowhere, yeh, GONE nowhere in 2023, and yet Lenyn Sosa is sitting on the bench watching Andrus play in his 112th game of the season and Oscar Colás is flying to Latin America for winter ball while Trayce Thompson is getting center-field reps, still, in the major leagues. Yikes. Any hopes you have that Chris Getz, the silent yes-man sitting aside Rick Hahn over these past several years of something they were calling contention window, will provide this organization a rudder, better rethink that strategy. San Diego finally broke through against Dylan for a run, putting him on the hook for a loss despite pitching a pretty stellar game.
Put another way, do you want to know what is wrong with the White Sox scouting, drafting, developing, managing, decison-making all wrapped up into one, 20-second highlight? Not to pick on Sheets, but:
Right fielder Gavin Sheets — yeh it still doesn’t sound right, but he essentially split time with Colás in right field this season, both around 70 games. One guy, Colás, was consistently dogged by his manager and management, sent to the minors after putting up a putrid -1.6 WAR. Sheets has glided by all year, unfair to him to be in right field but he sure isn’t a MLB 1B or DH, is putting up ... -1.5 WAR. And there’s one of the two guys who at least can throw a ball over the infield dirt from semi-deep right field on a sac fly — and that guy is on a plane to winter ball right now. — Darren Black
So, it’s the sixth inning now, although it’s hard to tell watching the cinder-block boredom that White Sox baseball has descended into over a matter of just two years, with the “Good” Guys trailing, 1-0. 1-0? Oh, we know better. Never has one run seemed more appropriate to score in dog years than here and now. If you look over at your hourglass and say, “Hey Di, it sure seems like the shit is about to hit the fan,” well fellow Sox sufferer, you are spot-on and about to be in the shitter.
Cease was excused for the season after five, and while it wasn’t his best start, it was a prototypical Cease start, weird wildness (three wild pitches) mixed with dominance (seven Ks of 15 outs) and, ultimately, the pain of having an offense behind him incapable of wresting free of a wet paper bag.
And with Cease excused it means the bullpen enters. Horrors! Oh wait, the pen has been lights-out this homestand, it has to keep the roll going, right?
Yohan Ramirez, part of the White Sox organizational plan (yeah it’s not longer just Hahn now, people, the blame is going to go on thick but spread thin) to pick up Every Single Player Released Even Those Released From Pretty Awful Teams Because We Can’t Scout for Beans, relieved Cease and got two quick outs.
That was the good news.
With the Pads pinned down, Ramirez proceeded to issue two walks on 10 pitches, bringing up Trent Grisham. After working the count full, Grisham knew something center-cut was coming — who wants to walk the bases full after two outs in a 1-0 game, certainly not anyone planning on pitching in the majors in 2024 — and, well, he got it.
Did the White Sox, now down 3-0, answer? Well, does answering with the flatulence of Vaughn ending the frame by striking out on two pitches below his ankles with Yoán Moncada standing on second count? No, not this year, not in any year. — Di Billick
You know, the more I see this Deivi Cruz guy, the more I like him. I think he’s winning me over, and let’s face it, with a very open bullpen for next year, why not? Not only did Cruz put out Ramirez’s bushfire in the sixth, he pitched a solid seventh, taking 20 pitches and walking one Padre, but otherwise delivering the White Sox to stretch still down, 3-0.
And in the bottom half, the White Sox put together a “rally” like only the 2023 White Sox can “rally.” I’ve been a fan for ... quite awhile, and to say I haven’t seen a White Sox team this futile isn’t doing it justice. We had all the expected 2023 elements in this one:
- Sheets, just as you question his purpose and want to give up on him, doubles to lead off
- Andrus, just as you question his purpose and want to give up on him, singles Sheets to third
- Thompson, just as you question his purpose and want to give up on him, taps out into a fielder’s choice that Colás, or Sosa, or Rodríguez, or Colson Montgomery could have instead
overmanagingfighting to win a nothing game at the end of September (although, hard to blame him for not wanting to be the fifth guy in history to manage the White Sox to a 100th loss), sends no-chance-of-being-here-next-summer Tyler Naquin to pinch-hit for current Catcher of the Future Korey Lee, on the fourth night of 23 Lee has actually hit safely
- After headed-to-Frisco Padres manager Bob Melvin countered with a pitching change, Grifol sends up Carlos Pérez to the plate, who walks to pack the sacks
- Tim Anderson, having a woeful -2.0 WAR season that has been topped only twice in White Sox history, lofts a slider from soft-tosser Tom Cosgrove to right field (good), with infield fly, 220-foot distance (really not good). Sheets, no guarantee to score if the ball was clubbed to Tatís on the track, cannot advance
- Andrew Benintendi, sacks still packed against a “crafty” arm, fights to full, gets his pitch, and crushes it — 66 mph, for an easy force out to end the inning
You have to laugh, to keep from crying. Another season bites the dust. — Melissa Sage-Bollenbach
It just needs to be repeated how impossibly impressive it is that the White Sox fielded a lineup in 2023, with an intent to win and not tank, that yielded less that 1.0 WAR as a unit and somewhere around -4.0 WAR if you remove Luis Robert Jr. from the equation.
That’s why I think, win or lose tonight, win or lose out on this season, win or lose the offseason (I think we all know how that’s going to play out under Hahngetz), this White Sox team can’t help but be better in 2024. It might seem counterintuitive, but nearly everything that could go wrong did this year, and disastrously so. An “improvement” to just 90 or 95 wins is nothing to be proud of, but the idea that it’s foregone that the White Sox will be even worse next summer is too easy.
Not that you’d feel that watching this game, where Cease was not pinpoint but deserved more than, let me check my scorecard here, zero runs of support.
In the eighth, one of an endless torrent of AAAA relievers — and ideally you always have an endless torrent of AAAA pitchers, so a few take off or turn the corner, and worst case you flip them at the deadline — Sammy Peralta pitched to what should have been a 1-2-3 frame, save for why-is-he-still-here Andrus fumbling a grounder to extend the inning by an out. But Chicago’s answer to Cosgrove kept San Diego off-balance by buzzing the plate with sweepers and changes, ceding to Lane Ramsey after the error. Ramsey, all 6´9´´of him, coughed up a first-batter single to Xander Bogaerts but then glared down at Tatís for a TKO on three pitches, Tatís’ third sit-down of the night.
In the bottom half, the White Sox finally drew blood, threatening as they are wont to do for more but ultimately notching just a single run on a Moncada solo shot.
To check back in on Yoán now that he’s [sarcasm] rediscovered his love of the game [font], his numbers since returning in July are running at +45 batting average points, +39 OBP, +77 SLG; amazing what being healthier can do for a guy.
It’s looking like a loss, but this time next year, really, things could be brighter, as some of the next wave makes it to the South Side. As painful as it is right now, I’ve got no other team, so I’ll be here in a year, hopefully bullpenning a better game than this one at season’s end. — Malachi Hayes
You are base-ball!
I AM ROBBY!
I AM BULLPENNINNG
the game of baseball, whie sox
ok no her its
FIRST HOME RUN of carlos perezs HOOORY CARLOS
the baseball game was fun!
no it is not fun
do you like base-ball?
I am ROBBY!
hello for baseball, you love it
is it raining or sunning or nighting we love basebll not chatgp
the white sox do not win
the white sox do not win today
the white sox do not win any days
BASEBALL IS GOO!
Robby is good!
—Robby the Recapper
Yeah, it’s cool, I’m given no writing, but the postgame poll section. Nice, Brett. I see what tenure gets me.
Well, OK, I do a lot of polls, it’s true. But first, let’s dance!
Who was the MVP of tonight’s loss to the Padres?
This poll is closed
Yoán Moncada: 2-for-5, 2B, HR, RBI ... BUT (yes there’s always a but) game-ending GIDP
Elvis Andrus: 2-for-4 ... BUT (yes there’s always a but) error
Dylan Cease: 5 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 BB, 7 K ... BUT (yes there’s always a but) 3 WP, LOSS
Deivi García: 1 1⁄3 IP, H, K
Sammy Peralta: 2⁄3 IP, 2 K
Carlos Pérez: 1-for-1, BB, first career MLB homer
Brett Ballantini: Executing 10 writing voices in one recap
Who is the Cold Cat of tonight’s loss to San Diego?
This poll is closed
Yohan Ramirez: 2⁄3 IP, H, 2 ER, 2 BB, K
Andrew Vaughn: 0-for-3, BB, 2 K
Trayce Thompson: 0-for-4, 2 K
Brett Ballantini: Committing to this stupid endeavor and delaying my recap of another White Sox loss