Taking the bump Wednesday night in lieu of the internationally renowned fashion guru, Chris Sale, was Anthony Ranaudo. You know, that guy that the Sox murdered and then immediately acquired. No, not that one. This one. He squared off against Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel, as the Sox dropped the first of two at Wrigley.
• What looked like a blowout waiting to happen began as a much closer affair before devolving into the anticipated result. The Sox struck first blood with a Ranaudo home run in the fifth. Yes, Anthony Ranaudo, the pitcher. Unfortunately the lead would be short lived as Kris Bryant deposited a hanging breaker into the left field bleachers in the sixth. Ranaudo was chased in the seventh when Javier Baez took a mighty hack at another rolling breaker and put it a thousand rows deep to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead, and a hit parade in eighth put the game well out of reach.
• Ranaudo had a plethora of factors dooming him. First and foremost are the lack of both “stuff” and control that have ended his run as a legitimate prospect. Add in a Cubs lineup that ranks fifth in runs scored. Then, just for good measure, tack on the pressure of his first Sox start. Suffice to say the deck was stacked against him, and the White Sox were not meant to win this game.
Nevertheless, the tall right-hander went out and pitched an admirable game. He spent the first inning flirting with the strike zone about as successfully as a twelve-year-old at the school dance, but was able to pitch around two walks before settling down to retire fifteen of the next sixteen he faced. He somehow carried a no-hitter into the sixth before Bryant’s home run. Renaudo’s mix of low-90s fastball, slider, and curveball kept the Cubs off balance all night, and he left after 6.2 innings surrendering only two hits. Unfortunately both came on rolling thigh-high breakers that were HAMMERED.
• While the Sox bats didn’t do much to help the cause today, they certainly weren’t aided by the Lake-Michigan-sized strike zone given to Cubs pitchers. Pitch Trax had Hammel consistently out of the zone and the called strikes baffled Sox hitters. Much has been made of pitch framing this season, but today’s zone went well beyond the acceptable border calls. Hammel didn’t pitch poorly, but the Sox never had a chance.
•Once again the Sox bullpen looked a mess. Zach Duke was the first in and walked the only batter he faced. Carson Fulmer finished the seventh but his eighth went, hit batsmen-single-double-walk before getting the hook. Jacob Turner was brought in with the bases loaded and no outs. He quickly defused the pressure by serving up an Addison Russell grand slam on his second pitch. When you only have two to three competent relievers, it makes sense to save them for protecting leads, but – yikes! – it can make for some ugly finishes.
• This week in inconsequential trivia, Sox sideline reporter, Siera Santos informed us that Tyler Saladino has pictures of Mr. Miyagi and Bruce Lee on the bottom of his bat handles. So, yea…
Team Record: 50-51
Next game is Thursday at Wrigley at 8:05pm on CSN
Lead Image Credit: Patrick Gorski // USA Today Sports Images