When the White Sox departed for a 7-game swing through Ohio, they had a 3 game lead on Minnesota in the AL Central. They limp home after a 1-6 trip, a full game back of Minnesota, and Cleveland has closed to within one game of the Sox for 2nd in the division, and Cleveland could still win the division with a little help, as they’re just 2 games out of first with 3 to play.
Dallas Keuchel did exactly what he was signed to do: pitch well in a big, late-season game with playoff implications on the line. He worked 6 innings, allowing just one earned run on four hits, with three strikeouts and two walks. He kept the Sox in the game, which is just what you need your starter to do.
Nomar Mazara might finally be turning a corner offensively after struggling throughout most of the season. He delivered a huge 2-run single in the 7th, to give the Sox a 4-1 lead. This followed a home run he hit recently in Cincinnati. He appears to be the only member of the Sox offense trending in the right direction right now.
Yoan Moncada is a triple machine. He hit his third triple in just this series to spark the Sox 3-run rally in the 7th. It’s been a struggle for him to find the energy to play every day ever since his coronavirus diagnosis, but seeing him leg out a trio of triples in the last four games is a good sign that his legs are slowly coming back to him. And not a moment too soon.
Ricky Renteria’s decision to bring Carlos Rodon, normally a starter, on in relief with runners in scoring position for his first appearance since early August probably caused more than a few Sox fans to scratch their heads so hard that Rogaine might gain some new customers in the Chicago area. Aaron Bummer was available (and he came in later and pitched just fine), and it’s arguable that that high-leverage spot would have been a better one for Bummer to handle since he’s used to those situations, whereas Rodon isn’t. Predictably, Rodon allowed the base hit that put Cleveland ahead for good just a half inning after the Sox took a 3-run lead.
This isn’t to absolve the performance of Jimmy Cordero, as he was charged with 3 earned runs despite being officially credited with a hold. He loaded the bases with nobody out and, while he got the first out via a fielder’s choice ground out, he set Rodon up for failure by leaving the bases loaded.
The Sox offense only got four hits. An offense that was so powerful through the middle of the season suddenly can’t hit. They had one heading into the 7th, and finally put three together after I threatened to modify the lyrics of LFO’s eponymous hit “Summer Girls” and make that the headline of this (moderately shitty) article.
[AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m gonna need a #Scatcast™ ruling on this article. I’m looking at you, @Lwilz]
Then the offense got it’s shit together (see what I did there?) and scored 3 runs, before the bullpen went to shit and the Sox end up losing the game.
If there’s any silver lining to coming home to face the Cubs, they’re also scuffling offensively. It could be a first to 2 runs wins each game. But now, the Sox no longer have their destiny in their own hands, with regards to the division race. They’ll have to hope the Twins slip up against the Reds, and play well against the Cubs to win the division. A division title, once thought to be a formality, isn’t anymore. But it still could happen.
Crazier things have happened, right? This is 2020 after all…