The White Sox donned their Sunday best, but dropped the series finale to the visiting Braves. With the loss, the Sox broke their streak of five-straight series wins and closed the door on a turbulent first half with a 45-43 record.
1. The scoring was done quick and early Sunday afternoon. Solo home runs from Jeff Francoeur and Jace Pederson in the second and third innings would provide the only runs. The Braves threatened again in both the fifth and sixth, but a timely double play and a big strikeout of Freddie Freeman helped the Sox escape unscathed. Meanwhile, the South Siders saw only one runner advance past first base the entire game. This is not typically a recipe for success.
2. James Shields had a surprisingly strong outing. Despite taking the loss, he posted perhaps his strongest outing in a Sox uniform. He threw 93 efficient pitches (61 strikes) going 7.2 innings while allowing two runs on six hits and two walks. Locating around the edges of the zone proved effective as Shields was without a walk until the sixth inning. Unfortunately he was without a strikeout until the sixth as well. Sox fans may be permanently scarred, but Shields has now put together three-straight quality starts and allowed only six runs over his last 20.1 innings. This is a welcome improvement that is only slightly dampened by the realization that those last three starts have come against the Twins, Yankees, and Braves.
3. The story of this game was Mike Foltynewicz displaying how big of an arm he has, and how small the back of a uniform looks with a Polish name. He lit up the radar with a fastball between 97 and 99 mph and displayed a tight slider and slow curve that kept Sox hitters off balance all day. The major knock in his development has been control, but he had it in spades Sunday. He finished with a seven-inning, ten-strikeout, zero-walk win. As that line indicates, there won’t be many hitting accolades for the Sox in this recap.
4. After a promising first three years in the bigs, Jeff Francoeur has spent the past nine years accumulating $26 million, 1.6 WARP, and one debatably insensitive nickname. Naturally he would provide the thunder this series. His solo home run kicked off the scoring in the second and he finished the series with six RBI. There’s mild consolation knowing that he’s surely aware that everyone’s still disappointed in him.
5. Tim Anderson is good. Potentially very good. Watching him at bat and in the field is downright exciting. With a 2-for-4 day, he closed out the first half with an .304 average and .798 OPS. He also notched himself an unassisted double play with a leaping catch that impressed anyone familiar with gravity. The consensus among Sox brass was that he needed a season in the minors to play everyday. He keeps defying those expectations. However, a visit from the Braves is a solemn reminder that rookie years can be deceiving. We wish you the best of luck, or something, Gordon.
Team Record: 45-43
Next game is Friday at 8:05pm CT vs. the Los Angeles Angels
Lead Image Credit: David Banks // USA Today Sports Images