The Sox hosted their neighbors from the North Monday night in a rematch of Sunday night’s matchup at Wrigley, and a familiar theme emerged: The Sox offense putting up a big crooked number on the Cubs pitching staff and riding that one inning to a victory, beating the Cubs 5-3.
Yoan Moncada. Just seeing him in the lineup was a sigh of relief for Sox fans, but he didn’t miss a beat Monday night after missing all of Summer Camp due to testing positive for COVID-19. Moncada impressed immediately, driving in Tim Anderson with a base hit, and he later scored on Eloy Jimenez grand slam. He also was stellar with the glove, making four strong plays at third base, proving that his game legs are under him. That’s good news for Ricky Renteria and all Sox fans who hope to see a full season out of #10 at the hot corner.
Dallas Keuchel. The Sox projected no. 2 starter cruised through five innings of work, only allowing one hit and striking out two. That one hit was promptly erased on a double play, and he retired 11 straight Cubs hitters.
Eloy Jimenez. Stepping to the plate in the first with the bases loaded, nobody out and one run in already, I thought to myself that this has the makings of another big inning for the Sox offense, and Jimenez proved me right, launching the first pitch he saw from Darvish 424 feet to center field for a grand slam. It followed an excellent, 9 pitch at bat by DH Edwin Encarnacion, who worked a walk to load the bases. That he drove the ball to center field is more impressive, as it shows he’s seeing the ball well.
Sox offense after the first inning. In a sign of how weird things have been in Summer Camp action, the bottom of the first inning ended after a James McCann base hit to right-center, not with a third out. But after that, the Sox rarely threatened, as Darvish was able to find a rhythm and keep the Sox off the board. It is nice to see the Sox have big innings where they put up 5+ runs in a frame, but those innings won’t come along every night, even in a 60 game season. Being able to spread out the runs will take more pressure off the pitching and defense.
Danny Mendick. The Cubs got within striking distance in the 7th with three runs against Jimmy Cordero, but to be fair (to be fairrrrrrrr), they were unearned, as Mendick had a sudden case of hands like feet. Cordero induced three ground balls to short in the inning, but Mendick bobbled not one, but two of those would-be double plays to give the Cubs life. Third time was the charm, as Mendick was able to start a double play, but not after 3 runs crossed the plate. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence if something happens to Tim Anderson and he has to miss some time.
Tuesday will be an off day for the Sox and Cubs before each team hosts the other’s opening day opponent on Wednesday, before the regular season opens for both teams in Chicago on Friday with the Sox hosting the Twins, and the Cubs hosting the Brewers. I’ll likely have a Sox round up Wednesday after their booze cruise vs Milwaukee, and I’m guessing Fork will write up the Cubs Twin killing, or something like that.