The White Sox pitching was great in Cleveland but deteriorated in Detroit and the offense could not bail them out.
The Chicago White Sox went back on the road this week and the results were not as bad as their last road trip, but they did lose the momentum from their homestand. The tour started out really well, taking two of three from the Cleveland Guardians, but then fell apart by losing three of four to the Detroit Tigers. The White Sox were back home for Memorial Day, losing a close one to the Los Angeles Angels. The 3-4 week keep the White Sox 7 games out of first place and elevated Detroit to second place (albeit still below .500).
White Sox Offense
The week was kind of a tale of two different teams. Against Cleveland, the White Sox pitched extremely well and hit very well. But against Detroit and Los Angeles, the pitching wasn’t as tight, and the offense couldn’t make up for it. The White Sox scored two, three, and five runs (unfortunately they needed seven to win) in three of the games. The 12-3 win in Detroit was an anomaly in the week, which is making it difficult to do any averaging or trending over the week. After all, one week is a small sample of games.
Some players had a really interesting week. 1B Andrew Vaughn turned eight hits into five RBIs and a home run. 1B/DH Gavin Sheets converted three hits into four RBIs and a home run. 2B Romy Gonzalez, who has been filling in for 2B Elvis Andrus, racked up five hits and collected six RBIs and two home runs. C Yasmani Grandal only had two hits (in 18 AB) but turned them into four RBIs and a home run. SS Tim Anderson was the only player with two multi-hit games and accumulated 11 hits on 31 plate appearances buoyed by a 4-hit game and a 3-hit game. Anderson had a hit in every game except for one.
In general, the hits were too few and too infrequent. Sheets might have been efficient, but he had those three hits in 12 AB. Gonzalez had a great week, but it was five hits in 19 AB. LF Andrew Benintendi went 5-24, dropping his batting average down to .270. DH Jake Burger and 3B Yoan Moncada both went 4-24. And CF Luis Robert Jr. scuffled all week with a 2-20 outing with no RBI’s and no home runs.
One bright spot was that RF Eloy Jimenez came back from the IL at the end of the week and was able to play two games. The slugger came through with three hits in seven at-bats, along with four RBI’s and a home run.
As a team, the White Sox rank 22nd in batting average, 19th in home runs, 17th in runs scored, 29th in OBP, 22nd in slugging, and 25th in OPS. The math is really simple. With no one on base, and very few players hitting home runs (or any type of extra-base hit), the run production isn’t enough to win games.
White Sox Pitching
The White Sox pitching has been off the hook for the last couple of weeks, and during the Cleveland series that continued. RHP Dylan Cease, who did not participate in the excellent pitching the last couple of weeks, had a bounce back game in Cleveland, going six innings and giving up two earned runs, one of them a home run. The relief pitching (RHP Keynan Middleton, RHP Joe Kelly, and RHP Kendall Graveman) gave up no more runs. RHP Michael Kopech would not be outdone, going seven innings of two hit ball with no runs, extending his runless streak to 15 innings. Especially fun for fans is that Kopech is striking people out again. He had nine strikeouts against Cleveland, giving him 19 in his last two games. The bullpen (RHP Reynaldo Lopez and RHP Jimmy Lambert) again gave up no runs.
The pitching fell apart somewhere on the ride from Cleveland to Detroit. Ignoring the 12-3 win where RHP Lance Lynn had a good start giving up three runs (only one earned) in six innings and the bullpen again gage up no runs or even a hit, the pitching could not stop Detroit’s offense. RHP Lucas Giolito, who has been pitching well lately, gave up four earned in 3 2/3 innings and the relief crew gave up three more. In somewhat of a bullpen game, Kelly gave up three runs and Lambert gave up two more.
Cease followed up his solid game in Cleveland with a clunker in Detroit, giving up four earned in four and walking four. And Kopech could not stop the Angels, giving up two home runs (four runs total) in just 4 1/3 innings. Interestingly, he did have 10 strikeouts and the relief pitching didn’t give up any runs except for RHP Liam Hendriks.
Hendriks’ return to the mound was as inspirational as it gets in sports, and it was great to see him approaching 97 MPH on the fastball. He got touched up for a couple of runs, but I am not sure anyone cared. His health is far more important than what he does on the field. He has already won this season by beating cancer.
The White Sox continue to struggle to put everything together at once and we are two months into the season now. The relief pitching has been astounding. Until Joe Kelly had a tough game against Detroit on May 27, he had not given up an earned run since April 27. And the relief pitching is going to get better with the return of LHP Garret Crochet. He had some problems finding the zone as he walked seven in his 3 1/3 innings last week but limited the damage to only one earned run.
The White Sox do not have a batter hitting over .270 and their highest OPS is Burger’s .865. They won’t face Los Angeles Angels RHP Shohei Ohtani this week, but they will face Angels RHP Jaime Barria and his 1.55 ERA. Then, they get Detroit at home for three games to try to exact some revenge.