Know Your Enemy: Desperation in Cleveland

For the second time in three weeks, the White Sox are facing the Cleveland Fightin’ Stereotypes, this time within the comforts of the GRate as the Sox start their 2019 swan song of a homestand. Of course, the Pale Hose are performing their obligated duties by fielding a 25-man roster of players to face the opponents set before them as they begin clearing their lockers and tipping their attendants/ball boys/tithing to Papa Reinsdorf. But this article isn’t about Tim Anderson’s approaching the goal line of winning a batting title or Eloy Jiménez using this month to feast on tired/spent pitching arms and clobbering milestone homers like this one in Detroit:

NO SIR. This is Know Your Enemy. And we need to discuss the current present and rapidly approaching unknown future for the Tribe from Cleveland. So let’s do this as I started with the KYE: Angels Edition, and give you the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How? about the Lindians!

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These are the Indians (OK, I really can’t keep up with the witty clever ways to avoid mentioning their unfortunate moniker) who started September 4.5 games behind the first-place Twins and in a tie for the A’s for the top wild card spot. Last we saw them, Cleveland failed to take advantage of a four-game series with the Sox, splitting it. One of those losses was the last time Reynaldo López looked like a competent pitcher in 2019:

And while Cleveland was able to go on a bit of a run, winning two of three in Minnesota, any gains were given back per the laws of alchemy by losing two of three against the Twins in Cleveland a week later. And as of Saturday night, the entire month of hard work and effort trying to retake control the AL Central resulted in a whole half-game net gain in the standings. Starting Sunday, the Indians were four games back with seven to play. Their up-and-down play has dropped them completely out of both wild card spots, however they remain one game back of the second WC spot (Rays) and three back of the first WC (Oakland)

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The Indians … whoo boy. Well, I guess they were trying to honor the Native Americans … in their own, early ass hell 20th Century kind of reasoning according to Wikipedia:

The name “Indians” originated from a request by club owner Charles Somers to baseball writers to choose a new name to replace “Cleveland Naps” following the departure of Nap Lajoie after the 1914 season. The name referenced the nickname “Indians” that was applied to the Cleveland Spiders baseball club during the time when Louis Sockalexis, a Native American, played in Cleveland.

I, for one, would 100% fully support the renaming to the Cleveland Naps. #MakeClevelandNapAgain

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Per Wikipedia:

Cleveland…is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio, and the county seat of Cuyahoga County.[7] The city proper has a population of 383,793, making it the 52nd-largest city in the United States and the second-largest city in Ohio.[5] Greater Cleveland is ranked as the 33rd-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with 2,057,009 people in 2018.[8] A Gamma + city, Cleveland anchors the Cleveland–Akron–Canton Combined Statistical Area, which had a population of 3,515,646 in 2010 and is ranked 15th in the United States. The city is located on the southern shore of Lake Erie, across the U.S. maritime border with Canada and approximately 60 miles (100 kilometers) west of the Ohio-Pennsylvania state border.

Fascinating stuff! Also… I’m not sure “Welcome to Brownstown” is the best use of marketing dollars…

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Tuesday, September 24th @ 7:10 p.m.
Hector Santiago (1-1, 5.65 ERA) vs. Mike Clevinger (12-3, 2.54 ERA) … SSHP coverage: Mike “Just Passed” Gasick

Wednesday, September 25th @ 7:10 p.m. Ross Detwiler (2-5, 6.98 ERA) vs. Shane Bieber (15-7, 3.23 ERA) … SSHP coverage: Ja-NotSo-Nice Scurio

Thursday, September 26th @ 7:10 p.m. Dylan Cease (4-7, 5.79 ERA) vs. Aaron Civale (3-3, 1.82 ERA) … SSHP coverage: Leigh “Private Dick” Allen

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Well, Larry, the deal is that the Indians clearly cannot afford to lose this series against the White Sox. Cleveland has only six games remaining, and barring every Twins slugger contracting Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, a division title is extremely unlikely. The Cleveland Show (I actually liked that Family Guy spinoff) ends their regular season with three more games against an extremely-motivated-to-host-the-NL-Wild-Card-Game Washington Nationals where, thanks to the random joys of season-long interleague play, they will lose their DH in an NL park. Cleveland will also need Oakland (two vs LAA; four @ SEA) and Tampa Bay (one vs BOS; two vs NYY; three @ TOR) to falter just enough for them to sneak in to the playoffs. Again, all scenarios are still open for varying levels of playoff participation, but their destiny is out of their hands.

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Well Mark Walhberg from M. Night Shamaylan’s The Happening, the White Sox truly have their work cut out for them in the series, with Nova and Big Boss Ross starting the first two games and Dylan Cease, who’s about as reliable as most of Shamaylan’s film career since The Sixth Sense. Hopefully the Sox will find a way to at least even out their home/road home run deficiencies as they have only hit 81 homers at the GRate vs 92 yabos in the various hovels other teams call ballparks. Or maybe the Sox can find the spoiler within and will themselves to be the second Chicago team to crush Cleveland’s playoff spirits in four seasons (ok, on a much smaller and meaningless scale, to be fair).

So there you have it. For those of you hoping for the White Sox to finish strong and send those Cleveland fans into the unreliable arms of Baker Mayfield for the remainder of 2019, just know the folks at Tankathon.com have the Sox with the ninth pick in the 2020 draft, 1.5 games “behind” Colorado and 1.5 games “ahead” of San Diego. And damn it to hell, if the Sox find a way to let the Padres “win” again … (I mean they went ahead and fired their manager Andy Green with a week left in the season … our team extends losing managers with secret extensions and free ceviche lessons after every game.)

And just for laughs … here’s Jack Parkman with the shimmy that makes all the women in Cleveland want to puke:


Sox shred, split series as ReyLo redeems with one-hit wonder

@NBCSWhitesox Gatorade showers for everyone!

A quick update about Rick Renteria – he’ll miss this Angels homestand to have surgery on his rotator cuff but he’s expected to return in time to see a few more ejections before the season ends.

Before we get into today’s game, we have an exciting announcement! South Side Hit Pen has a brand spankin’ new merch store at TeePublic! While we are in the process of getting our own original designs commissioned, we’ll bring you some curated shirts selected by yours truly.  I have a metric fuckton (actual unit of measurement) of options to go through and I don’t take this lightly- I went through 277 pages of Star Wars shirts last year before settling on “Suns out, Buns out” so check back often as we’ll be rotating new designs in and offering topical/seasonal wares. We’ll be featuring other artists’ designs for a bit while we’re working on our designs, but anything you buy through our link supports our talented staff (if anyone wants to buy an awesome Giolito shirt for Katiesphil, drop us a line and he’ll send you his address). If you’d like to commission something for us, drop me a DM on twitter (@Lwilz) and we’ll see if we can make it happen. We will be predominantly featuring White Sox and Chicago/baseball items but we’ve got a few Bears shirts up for this weekend in honor of the season kicking off. We are very happy with the quality and customer service over at TeePublic, and we look forward to this new partnership.

Buy this and other great items here!

Now back to your regularly scheduled recapping: Despite giving up a leadoff walk, Reynaldo López was a man on a mission, striking out one and allowing a whole lot of nada in the first. In the second inning, Welington Castillo launched a home run after Yoán Moncada’s leadoff single to give the Sox a 2-0 lead.

Baseball Theater

This was swiftly followed by Collins and Mendick strikeouts and a Yolmer flyout to Sox nemesis Oscar Mercado to end the inning. If you missed Oscar Mercado’s heroics last night, here’s another look:

DeWayne Wise tips his hat to you, sir.

After a strikeout and another walk, Kevin Plawecki hit a ball just shy of the warning track and Goins, playing right field for unknown reasons, misread the ball and it dropped for a hit.  Walking Jake Bauers came back to haunt us, as he scored, cutting our lead in half.  One more strikeout for ꓘ-naldo and he appeared to have completely forgotten last week’s meltdown.

Other than a Tim Anderson single and another strikeout for ReyLo, the third inning was uneventful.  Moncada doubled off the outfield wall to lead off the fourth, and Collins walked on four pitches.  YOLMER singled to center field (yes, Yolmer, really) and Moncada turned on the wheels to extend our lead back to two. Adam Engel struck out looking in an eight-pitch at-bat and I thought he was going to get himself ejected

Baseball Theater

Two more strikeouts for Reynaldo in the fourth brought us to the fifth.  Eloy doubled to left but was unable to score.  Lopez continued to deal in the Indians’ fifth with a 1-2-3 inning, using 65 pitches to get the White Sox to the sixth.

Welington Castillo decided to have himself a game and hit the first standup double of his career (just kidding, maybe?), followed by another Collins walk, so it should come as no surprise that Mendick was called upon to bunt. With two strikes, Mendick did the unthinkable, HE EXECUTED IT PERFECTLY.  

I screamed something unintelligible while cheering, and woke my sleeping dog, so I’m sure to pay for that later this evening.

Eloy and Leury played a little hidden ball trick on Mendick, who now has a souvenir of his first major league hit.

After a pitching change, Yolmer walked in a run and the bases remained loaded with nary an out in sight.  (My mom just walked into my house, a detour en route to the Bears game and she scoffed when I said “Did you see that?! there’s nary an out in sight!” so look at me now mom, I just published the word nary). Engel kept it going, launching a single that allowed Collins and Mendick to score. Hunter Wood struck out Timmy and Eloy to end the inning, but not without a crooked number going up on the board to give the Sox a 6-1 lead.

ReyLo scooped up another strikeout in the Tribe’s half of the sixth and we cruised into the seventh, where Welington continued his savagery and blasted another double. Weli giveth and Weli taketh away, as he was thrown out at home to end the inning after Mendick smashed his second career base hit.

Baseball Theater

ꓘ-Lo collected another pair of strikeouts through the seventh and eighth, bringing his total to ten.

Tim Anderson led off the top of the ninth with a double, Eloy was hit by a pitch and both advanced on a passed ball. Welington continued to atone for a miserable season by driving in his third RBI of the game on a groundout, and on we rolled into the ninth. This was Reynaldo’s first time pitching in the ninth, and his first bid for a complete game.  Reynaldo mowed down everyone in sight, ringing up Franmil Reyes for a total of eleven strikeouts in 109 pitches and saving the entire bullpen for Joe McEwing this weekend.

Per usual, my best and worst of the game, now with more strikeouts!

Inferno: Reynaldo was en fuego, fanning eleven and allowing one lone hit in his first career complete game.

Conflagration: Tim Anderson collected a pair of hits today and is leading the American League with a .332 batting average.

Ablaze: Welington amassed three hits and three RBIs today and didn’t strike out once.

Embers: Mendick is now batting .400 and bunting 1.000.

Ashes: Goins was 0-4 with a pair of strikeouts. We still have yet to learn why he was playing right field, but had an actual outfielder been in his place, ReyLo *might* have pulled off a no-no.

Best tweet of the game goes to my buddy and fellow Yermin Mercedes fanboy, BBlock19

As promised in my series preview, I present my dog, Angie, circa 2013. The night I got her, she walked around the house sniffing things, scouting out locations that would allow her barking to resonate, and testing out all of her new toys. She was pretty skittish and fearful, and was hesitant to get close to me. The Blackhawks were playing the Vancouver Canucks, and as announcer Pat Foley said “Roberto Luongo” during the pregame show, Angie walked up to the TV, growled, and came over to me, tail wagging proudly. I said “ANGIE! WHAT A GOOD GIRL!” and made a big deal about it, so she took this as an indication that she had done something noble. She proceeded to hop up on the couch next to me and watched the game. She was introduced to baseball a few months later, and she was hooked.  While she doesn’t really concern herself with how badly the White Sox play, she has never cared for any of our opponents. I presented her with a Chief Wahoo hat, and told her to “go Luongo on it” and that is exactly what she did.  She is currently awaiting a giant foam Cheesehead hat in anticipation of tonight’s Bears game, but she’s going to have to settle for a tiny wheel of Babybel White Cheddar, as that’s what’s in my fridge.

Thanks for following this series with all of us at the ‘Pen, we leave you with this message from the White Sox:

Gamethread: White Sox at Cleveland

Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen

After an exciting but ultimately disappointing finish last night (if you missed it, Janice has got you covered with a recap. The White Sox are looking to bounce back and split this series with the Tribe and push them behind Oakland and out of Wild Card contention.

Reynaldo López has the honors for the Good Guys, and he’s looking to redeem an ugly performance against the Braves where he was unable to make it out of the first inning. Danny Mendick will make his first start at third today, with Moncada as the DH.

Rookie Zach Plesac will toe the rubber for the Tribe, and his one previous outing against the White Sox handed him his first career loss as Tim Anderson launched a solo shot in the fourth inning.  Hopefully Timmy can continue to haunt him and we can rock and roll our way out of Cleveland on a high note.

Starting Lineups:

Danny Mendick starting at third base might alleviate some of the suffering endured at the hands of Welington Castillo
Of course Cleveland makes us look at Franmil Reyes and relive the sting of last night’s home run – you’ll have to click to expand to see their lineup.

The game is on NBCSN/ WGN 720, and out of market fans can catch it on MLB Network.

Check back after the game as I summarize a comedy of errors the happenings at Progressive Field and bring you a much-hyped video of my dog.

Know Your Enemy: Cleveland

(@Indians)


When we last saw Cleveland, we took three of four at home in late May/early June, putting both teams in a tie for second place in the AL Central with 29-30 records.

Since then, a lot has improved for Cleveland, and not much has gone right for the White Sox.

The Wahoos improved from a league-worst bullpen to a league leading 3.43 ERA, coming in at 101 fewer runs allowed than the AL average of 283, with a meager 182. Shortstop Francisco Lindor Is hitting .297 post All-Star Break, and is destroying right-handed pitching. Second baseman and Northbrook native Jason Kipnis has raised his batting average by about 50 points since we last saw him, and the two of them have .980 and .989 fielding percentages, respectively. (By contrast, Tim Anderson’s fielding percentage this season is .944, lowest by a position player in the majors). 

The White Sox had a rather forgettable June, going 11-13 and not really doing anything important other than claiming Jimmy Cordero off waivers. Jimmy Biceps has been my favorite bullpen pitcher this second half, and other than DFA-ing Yonder Alonso, it was perhaps the best decision the White Sox made during the month. We also lost Anderson to an ankle sprain, and we hobbled into July to play arguably the worst month of baseball in recent memory. The White Sox went 7-17, including a seven-game skid immediately following the All Star Break. Other than Dylan Cease’s debut, July pretty much sucked. We had the failed A.J. Reed experiment, lots of Dylan Covey, and lots of trade speculation. We didn’t do much at the deadline, sending Nate Jones and a pile of The Money Will Be Spent™ cash to the Texas Rangers in exchange for two minor league pitchers.

The Indians received two-sport athlete Yasiel Puig (check out his soccer skills below) and his red mohawk from the Reds in a trade that sent resident lunatic Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati, and he claims he doesn’t miss Cleveland.

So far this season, the White Sox are 7-5 against the Indians, with a 3-3 record at Progressive Field. The South Siders are in an interesting position for the remainder of this season, as Cleveland currently sits 5.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins, and currently half a game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the top wild card spot, with the Oakland A’s one half-game behind. The next closest hopeful, the Boston Red Sox, are five games back. If we can take at least two of these games and the others in the wild-card chase play well, there is a chance we can play spoilsport to Cleveland’s postseason hopes.

Cleveland is pretty easy to hate, even without Chief Wahoo. We all know how Joakim Noah feels about the former Land of LeBron:

To quote our very own Mike Gasick, “I’ll never forgive this stupid team for blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 World Series. Worst day of my life.”

Probable starters are:

Monday, September 2:  Ross Detwiler vs. Aaron Civale (6:10 pm, NBCSN/WGN-AM 720) With Detwiler pitching in Saturday’s circus show, this matchup is likely to change. Civale has been impressive in his rookie season, and I expect him to be in the Cleveland rotation next season. He’s got a nasty sinker, averages five strikeouts per game and his WHIP is 0.90. We’re going to need some good luck and possibly an exorcism before we face this guy.

Tuesday, September 3: Dylan Cease vs. Mike Clevinger (6:10 pm, WGN/WGN-AM 720) If Cease can limit the first-inning damage, this could be a fun one. If Dylan gets rocked early, Clevinger could wipe the floor with us.

Wednesday, September 4: Iván Nova vs. Shane Bieber (6:10 pm NBCSN/WGN-AM 720) Shane Bieber has gone 0-2 in his last three starts, including a no-decision to the Kansas City Royals, sandwiched by losses to the New York Mets and Rays. He’s got a good fastball, so expect a lot of South Side strikeouts.

Thursday, September 5: Reynaldo López vs. Zach Plesac (12:10 pm NBCSN/WGN-AM 720) With ReyLo chased out of the game without making it through a single inning on Saturday, this will be his chance for redemption. Plesac, a rookie, is a good pitcher but also is hittable, so if ReyLo gets some run support, he’s got a good shot at taking this one.

With September callups always a possibility, we might be seeing some new faces in the dugout by the end of this series. But for now, we’ve got Manny Bañuelos and Carson Fulmer swelling our bench to 27.

If you can make it through all four games, I promise to give you a special treat in Thursday’s game recap. Until then, let’s try to make it harder for Cleveland to make the wild card playoff game.

Chief Wahoo became Chief WaChew in my house.
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