Oh, boy. After a rain-soaked Monday in Cleveland gave us some time to (attempt) to come down from the ledge after the atrocity that was the Minnesota series this past weekend, the White Sox wasted no time dispelling any false hopes that we might have acquired in the past 48 hours.
After a leadoff single by Cesar Hernandez and a fly-out by Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor put Cleveland up early when he crushed (91.3 mph, 412-feet) a Dylan Cease fastball catered too him right over the plate making it 2-0, and continuing the string of disastrous outings by White Sox starting pitchers.
Cease only lasted two-and-a-third and surrendered four runs, two coming via the longball. Like those before him, shoddy fastball command did Cease in in the matinee installment of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Progressive Field.
The evening billing looked much the same as Carlos Rodon got tagged for three runs in the first, and then two more before exiting the game with just three-and-two-thirds innings of work under his belt.
Save for Dallas Keuchel, who pitches by a completely different game plan than the other four, White Sox starters have been behind in the count and on the scoreboard early and often thus far, and the opening-inning punches in the mouth have made it tough for the offense to establish any sort of momentum.
Through the first trip through the rotation, the White Sox starters own a 12.64 ERA and have served up six long-balls. If you remove Keuchel from the mix, the combination of Giolito, Lopez, Cease, and Rodon are sporting a 17.42 ERA, and all six of those aforementioned home runs belong to them.
As Carlos Rodon said to the media after the second game, this just isn’t going to get the job done.
“Keuchel had a tremendous start, so that kind of picked us up, but … it’s time for us other four to do our job,” Rodon said. “We’re the heart of the ballclub. We got to pitch better, that’s for sure.”
While the starting pitching was atrocious in both games, the offense had plenty of opportunities to claw their way back into the game thanks to stellar outings by the bullpen. In the afternoon game, the club trailed 4-2 in the top of the eighth inning, and Zack Collins came to the plate with the bases loaded and flew out to end the rally. Tim Anderson — who homered earlier in the game — doubled to open the ninth and scored to make it 4-3, but the rally fell short in the end.
The White Sox stranded 11 on the basepaths in the afternoon game, and much like the starting pitching woes, that’s just not going to cut it. Which brings me to my next point, another edition of the baffling lineup construction by Rick Renteria.
In the evening game — in a game, you’d hope to see a bit of urgency in — after stranding 11 runners in game one, Renteria moves Nicky Delmonico to the cleanup spot, and inserts Zack Collins into the fifth spot in the order. In front of James McCann and Luis Robert, two guys have are pacing the team offensively right now.
The White Sox managed to score just three runs, one coming on a James McCann solo home run, from the sixth spot in the lineup. Nicky Delmonico and Zack Collins combined to go 1-8. The only hit between the two was a 60.7 mph ground ball off the bat of Nicky Delmonico that found its way through some vacated real estate on the left side due to the shift.
After five games, Nicky Delmonico has an average exit velocity of 73.9 mph, which ranks in the first percentile in baseball this season. Nicky Delmonico has more at-bats (19) than Yasmani Grandal (10), who signed a four-year, $73 million dollar deal in November. Do you see the problem here?
Meanwhile, Luis Robert is 7-19 (.368) with 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 RBI, and a .979 OPS. He has a hit in every game, two multi-hit games, and has only had one multi-strikeout game. Yet, he’s relegated to the bottom of the lineup.
Renteria spoke to the shortcomings of the pitching staff after the game, “It’s no secret — we need our starters,” but said he’s not panicked overall. Well, I think you should be Skip, we are.
“My personality, I don’t panic very much. I’m not much of a panicker,” Renteria said. “What I will say is I went into the clubhouse and said, ‘Hey guys keep your heads up. We’ve got to keep playing and tomorrow’s another day.’ It’s just baseball and everybody knows that once you start running a little hot, a lot of things are forgotten. But we’ve got to do it, in order to forget what we want to forget.”
Well, at least he’s good for a mediocre post-game pep talk. Hopefully, he cut the post-game speech short to work on an actual lineup for tomorrow, but probably not. Buckle up White Sox fans, this might get worse before it gets better.