CLEVELAND — In perhaps the biggest series and road trip of the season, the White Sox needed to get off to a good start.
And of course, they didn’t in an 8-4 loss to the Cleveland Guardians Monday night.
It’s been that kind of year.
Coming off two Sox wins at home against the Tigers to garner a split of a four-game series for, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert were retired on six pitches in the first inning. Sox right-hander Lance Lynn then gave up five runs in the bottom of the first.
Lynn, who was victimized by soft contact but effective contact nonetheless in a six-hit, strikeout-free first that gobbled up 39 offerings on his pitch count, got back in the game on Yoan Moncada’s three-run homer against Cal Quantrill in the third and AJ Pollock’s RBI single in the fourth.
“The score tells you all you need to know,” Lynn said. “If you give up eight runs, you’re horse [bleep].”
Lynn (1-2, 6.97 ERA) pitched a perfect second and third but had to work out of a jam in the fourth, then gave up two more in the fifth on Nolan Jones’ double, the second run scoring when second baseman Leury Garcia’s relay throw bounced through catcher Seby Zavala.
It was Lynn’s 100th pitch, and he was running low on fuel after that labor intensive first, as well as the fourth.
“We have two games [Tuesday] and to be honest I have to get through six innings,” Lynn said. “I let the team down.”
Franmil Reyes led off the fifth with a single and Lynn hit Andres Gimenez to open the inning, and manager Tony La Russa allowed Lynn to face Jones for the third time, and Jones lined a 110-mph rocket to the right-center field gap, the hardest hit ball of the night.
“Watched him in the fourth when he had first and third, got the heart of the lineup out,” La Russa said. “We checked him and he said, ‘I’m ready to go.’ ”
Myles Straw’s comebacker off reliever Matt Foster caromed into right field and scored Jones to make it 8-4.
The young Guardians (42-42), losers in eight of their previous 10 games and a team that’s not expected to contend in the division, beat the Sox for the fifth time in six games. The Sox have three more against Cleveland and four against the Twins going into next week’s All-Star break. After the break, they have another four against Cleveland at home.
It seems whenever the Sox string together a couple of wins or enjoy an important win, they can’t follow up with a meaningful streak.
Lynn allowed eight runs on nine hits in four-plus innings. The first three singles allowed were at exit velocities of 83.6, 68 and 92 mph.
“That’s part of the game,” Lynn said. “When you give up five runs with two outs, that hurts. But I have to be better early on. There’s no other way to put it. Make better pitches, get in better counts and when I do put people away.”
NOTES: Dylan Cease, on not being selected for the All-Star team despite having the fifth lowest ERA among AL qualified starters and second best strikeout rate: “You can only just pitch better, play better. I can make a good case with some of my numbers, but it’s out of my hands so I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. But it’s a little bit disappointing.”
Cease will pitch the second game of the day-night doubleheader Tuesday, and is lined up for Sunday at Minnesota. Davis Martin will be called up to pitch the day game Tuesday.