There are some games that can easily be delineated using a common and some might say lazy format that’s been lent from a 52-year-old movie. Monday’s 8-1 loss to the Athletics is one of those games.
Reynaldo Lopez flashed the type of swing-and-miss stuff that makes it easy to understand why the evaluators who are high on him believe he can be an above-average starting pitcher. He struck out 10, the highest total of his White Sox career (he had one 11-strikeout game in 2016 with Washington), and flashed plus stuff with the fastball, slider, and change-up while generating 11 swings-and-misses.
The velocity on his fastball sat 96-98, according to Brooks Baseball, but perhaps more importantly maintained that velocity as his pitch count crept upward. He lasted six innings and ended his outing with four consecutive strikeouts, including a 97-mph offering he threw past Stephen Piscotty to end his evening.
He was wild at times, walking four, and got beat on two mistakes — a hanging slider that Khris Davis hit for an RBI double and a 92-mph fastball that Matt Olson hit out — and home plate umpire Mike DiMuro’s strike zone was consistently forgiving for both teams throughout the night, but there was enough good stuff there to find optimism. Lopez could still be a reliever, or one of those Danny Salazar-type frustrating fringe starters who misses a ton of bats but makes enough mistakes to remain fringe-y, but there’s still plenty to dream on with him, and tonight was a good example of why.
…where to begin?
The offense is still putrid. They’ve scored zero or one in four of their last seven games, and again struggled with runners in scoring position, going 0-for-5.
They made Oakland starter Daniel Mengden, he of a 5.36 ERA in 24 career starts, look like an efficient, inning-eating machine, drawing just one walk (bonus good: Matt Davidson’s TEAM LEADING 10th of the season) while striking out eight times.
It took a Jose Abreu lead-off home run in the ninth to chase Mengden and avoid their third shutout of the season.
Avisail Garcia continued to look over-aggressive at the plate and is in a 1-for-21 slump, seeing just 10 pitches in his four plate appearances.
Opening day against the Royals feels like an eternity ago.
The entire seventh and eighth innings.
The White Sox were unlikely to win given the offensive woes, but the seventh inning put an outcome that was in doubt completely out of reach. After Luis Avilan walked Jonathan Lucroy to begin the frame, a free out turned into a base runner when Jose Abreu couldn’t handle a sacrifice bunt by Matt Joyce. Following a Marcus Semien single to load the bases with nobody out, a tailor-made double play ball off the bat of Jed Lowrie went through Tim Anderson’s legs and under DEFENSIVE REPLACEMENT Leury Garcia’s glove, plating a pair of A’s.
Defensive woes continued in the eighth inning, when Chris Volstad walked Matt Chapman to lead-off the inning (sensing a theme here?), and a throwing error by Adam Engel on a Mark Canha single gave Oakland further opportunities.
Including Lopez’s four, White Sox pitching walked seven on the evening and the bullpen, even setting aside the defensive misplays, walked three and struck out just one while allowing four earned runs over the final four innings.
There will be nights like this with a rebuilding team. Things like Lopez’s performance and Davidson looking good at the plate are positives worth focusing on, but the White Sox being run-of-the-mill “bad” is a lot easier to stomach than looking embarrassingly incompetent.
Let’s hope we see less of the latter going forward.
Lead Photo Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports