The Chicago White Sox entered the ninth inning with a 99.8% chance of winning the game. With an 8-2 lead in the first of the series against the Cleveland Guardians, the game looked like another easy win for the White Sox.
Then this happened.
Andres Gimenez homered off of Tanner Banks.
Amed Rosario singled on a line drive and advanced to third when Tim Anderson threw the ball away.
Austin Hedges drives in Rosario on a grounder bobbled by Yoan Moncada at third base.
Myles Straw strikes out (first out of the inning).
Steven Kwan grounds into a fielder’s choice to Moncada (two outs, 8-4 White Sox lead).
Jose Ramirez walks, and Liam Hendriks enters the game.
Owen Miller hits a line drive single to load the bases.
Josh Naylor hits a grand slam to tie the game.
The game went to extra innings and the White Sox tied the game at nine. However, the Guardians took the lead in the 11th inning on another Naylor home run and sealed the 12-9 win.
The collapse was bizarre, to say the least. Aside from being one of the most improbable comebacks, the game was odd enough considering how the White Sox have played both recently and throughout the season.
Kopech had his best start of the year
Michael Kopech has started the season as an intriguing pitcher in the White Sox rotation. While providing great innings, the right-handed starter was on an innings count, that is until tonight.
Kopech pitched six innings and allowed only one run with two hits while tossing seven strikeouts. In 91 pitches Kopech threw the fastball 55 times and wasn’t locating the pitch rather, just getting the ball over the plate, regardless of location. With a 98 miles per hour fastball, it’s going to be an effective pitch when it’s called a strike and it was in the strong start against the Guardians.
Furthermore, Kopech continued to hit the slider in the lower half of the strike zone. The pitch selection has allowed the 26-year-old pitcher to have great games in the rotation, including the recent start. Unfortunately, the start from Kopech while a big plus for the White Sox was buried by the blown lead, along with another part of the team that has suddenly shown promise.
White Sox lineup stepped up
The White Sox batting order struggled, even in the six-game winning streak. The White Sox only scored 10 runs in their sweep of the Boston Red Sox and only 20 runs in their winning streak. The lineup has struggled to start this season, making the recent loss not only frustrating but all the more absurd.
The White Sox scored four runs in the first inning, highlighted by a Gavin Sheets three-run home run. Sheets, like a lot of batters in the back half of the lineup, have struggled to start the season, slashing only .203/.247/.275 before tonight’s game. However, on a hanging slider, the multi-position left-handed hitter pulled the ball over the right-field fence.
In the eighth inning, in a frame that looked to put the game away, the White Sox scored three runs to pad the lead to six. AJ Pollock this year is more known for his fielding than his presence at the plate, slashing .176/.204/.216 before tonight’s game while putting together a respectable season in the outfield. On a 2-2 count, Pollock got the high pitch he wanted and powered the ball over the left-field fence.
Throughout the season, fans have been waiting for this type of game, hitting-wise. The back half of the lineup stepped up, which oddly enough is something to look forward to. Unfortunately, despite finally witnessing a great day at the plate, the White Sox still found a way to lose, and from the most unlikely place.
White Sox bullpen (of all things) lost the game
The White Sox bullpen has been a strength throughout the season. Despite trading Craig Kimbrel before the season started, the bullpen has proven to have more than enough arms to close out games. Matt Foster is having a big season, Reynaldo Lopez has found a major role in the bullpen, and Hendriks is closing out games.
Against the Guardians, things couldn’t be more different. Foster allowed only one run all season but allowed a run in the eighth inning. Hendriks pitched six scoreless innings entering the top of the ninth yet allowed a grand slam. The bullpen allowed four runs in extra innings, a run in the final four frames, and 11 runs in total.
These types of games from a struggling bullpen are expected. The White Sox, however, have been carried by their bullpen, a group that has all but shortened games this season. The Guardians, however, continued to get on base and more importantly, take the bullpen deep, especially Naylor, who hit two home runs with eight RBI. It was a tough loss for the White Sox and an odd one as well but one that the team has to quickly forget.
Make sure to check out our WHITE SOX forum for the latest on the team.