Will it Roll? Nah. Sox steamed by Cleveland, 8-6

Watch me crank it, watch me roll: Tim Anderson has a three-hit night including a two-run blast in the ninth inning for added theatrics, (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


In something that’s highly relatable as someone who didn’t grow up with siblings, on Wednesday night Jason Benetti and Steve Stone made up a game called “Will it Roll?” which features watching baseballs roll errantly off the netting at Progressive Field. This game offered a healthy distraction in-between innings to the mind-numbing ennui that usually accompanies watching Chicago play a team like Cleveland — especially when the White Sox lose, as they did tonight, 8-6.

The game itself featured plenty of strange plays, including a bizarre fielder’s choice, and some baserunning gaffes, resulting in rundowns. Benetti described tonight’s events as “bordering on the occult.” In a start that echoed much like his last, Iván Nova only lasted 4 ⅓ innings. Neither Nova nor Cleveland starter Justin Bieber really had their stuff early tonight; we saw a what could have been the start of a pitcher’s duel, but not necessarily the fun kind.

Finally, any hopes for a storybook ninth-inning rally were otherwise lambasted by a stellar catch, courtesy of Oscar Mercado.

In the bottom of the first, leadoff menace Francisco Lindor singled; Mercado then smacked a double, pushing the speedy Lindor to third. Up walked notorious bat-licker Yasiel Puig; he grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Mercado was caught in a rundown (the first of a few in this game) by Tim Anderson, scoring Lindor. 1-0, Cleveland. Yeah, already.

The Sox would strike in the second inning, starting with the leadoff walk to James McCann. Eloy Jiménez then destroyed a knuckle-curve from Bieber with some solid contact, pushing McCann to third. Yolmer Sánchez kept the party going with a sac fly, scoring McCann and pushing Jiménez to third. Yolmer’s 35th RBI of the year knotted the game, 1-1. 

However, the tie wasn’t enough for Zack Collins, who has shown up this Cleveland series, hopefully earning him more playing time! (Pretty please?) Collins singled, and Eloy ran home. The Good Guys led (wow, it feels great to say that), 2-1. 

Cleveland’s half of the second began with a leadoff double from Franmil Reyes, who apparently hit the ball so hard, Leury García seemed to lose sight of it. Nova’s control turned a little slippery and Jake Bauers walked, and when the speedy Reyes saw an opportunity to steal third, he did. Roberto Perez grounded into a DP, which got Nova some outs but unfortunately tied the game, as Reyes scored. 

Ugh. Small ball. What’s that, anyway?

The third inning brought more woes for Nova, who was picked apart by this Cleveland lineup. Mercado, who will prove to be a major pain in the ass later, singled; a line drive double to center by Carlos Santana followed that, scoring Wheels Mercado and making it 3-2, Cleveland.

We finally saw Not-Justin’s first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, while Nova’s fourth would not go nearly as well. Perez singled, and it’s deflected by García. Yu Cheng then singled to left, Perez scooting on over to second. Mercado hit one to the gap between a scrambling García and Daniel Palka, and Perez scored. At this point, Mercado’s 3-for-3, and I’m sick of him already

Yeah, it’s now 4-2, Cleveland, or something. 

Some weird stuff happened in the fifth, which I guess is a good time for weird stuff to happen. Thematically, it would set us up for the rest of the story, right? We see some weird shit, go to a denouement, then we’re given the conclusion? Yeah, I took maybe one film class. 

Zack Collins walked, and then on a grounder, García beat the throw to first to avoid the double play. Tim Anderson doubled to the opposite field, specifically to Puig. Nick Capra gave García the red light, because there’s no way in hell you run home on Puig. 

José Abreu then reached on a weeeeird fielder’s choice, 5-2-5-1. Aaaand then Leury’s caught in a rundown, but at least Timmy’s on third! But Yoán Moncada strikes out. WEIRD.

We’re given a little break from the weird in the bottom of the fifth; Puig singles on a shaaaarp line drive to left field. And then Reyes decides to make things a little less weird, and a little less fun, too. 

It’s 6-2, Cleveland. Meh.

Nothing happens for a few innings, which is great, but I’d like to mention that Bieber eventually found his stuff and was cruising. 

Josh Osich, however, not so much. *That part* of the Cleveland lineup found him, and quickly. A walk was issued to Reyes; then 2019 White Sox killer Jordan Luplow singled on a grounder to left field, moving Reyes to third. And that’s when Chang did something very Luplow-like and also singled to left field, scoring two. Chang also did something very Leury García-like, and got caught in a rundown.

At 8-2, Cleveland, this game is still in reach, right? RIGHT?!

In the top of the 8th, Tim Anderson singled. He was having a great night, by the way (and it may even get better, foreshadowing!)

Next, in a great, patient at-bat, Abreu hit his 29th homer of the season off of Nick Goody, who had just replaced Shane Bieber (and thank GOD or whomever, by the way). José adjusted a bit and pulled an inside pitch and BOOM, he launched it the heck outta here. And just like that, the lead is cut significantly, to 8-4, Cleveland.

Oh, but we ain’t done yet. Fast forward to the top of the ninth, where we see Danny Mendick’s first major league at-bat! And it ended as quickly as it started, as he struck out swinging. 

As anticlimactic as that was, García hit a single next (a 2-for-5 night!). And that’s when Anderson finds a Brad Hand high fastball and … and … and ….

That, my friends, is a three-hit night for Mr. Stick Talk himself. And his 15th homer. And we’ve got ourselves a ballgame, 8-6 Cleveland, with the Pale Hose knocking. 

And here come in the theatrics.

You can say Brad nearly … handed … us the game. (Full joke credit goes to LWilz on this one.) Abreu kept the momentum going with a line drive single; Moncada then walked. And by now, my dog’s pissed at me for paying too much attention to this game so she starts putting her head on my computer’s keyboard, as James McCann singled, loading the bases! 

Are you screaming yet? You will be. Here comes dat Eloy!

Oh. Um. 

OK. 

Well. 

Yikes. 

Awkward. 

Cleveland found that elusive third out in the ninth inning, by getting pinch-hitter Ryan Goins to strike out swinging.

Like I mentioned earlier, Nova’s start was … not great, and he looked very similar to his Atlanta outing, where he barely even made it four innings before being pulled. Nova gave up 11 hits; he’s prone to give up hits, however, as he is second in the AL in this statistic. The Cleveland lineup made solid contact with his fastball-cutter-change combo, and they made him pay dearly. Nova gave up six runs, all earned, walking two and striking out one, falling to 9-12 on the season.

Justin … err … I mean, Shane Bieber did not really have the cooking gas either to begin with, but later found his stuff, enough to go seven innings, giving up six hits and two earned. He walked two, but struck out nine, improving to 13-7.

Are you still watching that Mercado catch video? Don’t worry. I kind of am, too. Feel better about yourself soon, and bounce back for tomorrow’s matchup, which features the plucky Reynaldo López (8-12, 5.41) against Zach Plesac (7-5, 3.61). 

Turn on incognito mode on your Google Chrome at work and find tomorrow’s 12:10 CST game on NBC Sports Chicago; if the radio works out better for you, set your dial to WGN 720. For your SSHP coverage, look no further than the affable Lauren Wilz.

BONUS CONTENT: (Was I being too hard on Leury here? He did make this excellent grab in the third. I try not to be too mean. Sometimes.)


Gamethread: White Sox at Cleveland

Bossa Nova: The righty enters September, hoping to continue a jazzy second half . (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)

Last night, Eloy Jiménez said hello to Cleveland with a two-home run game, catapulting the Chicago White Sox to a thrilling 6-5 victory at Progressive Field. Dylan Cease struck out 11 to complement the offense, resulting in the sweet release from a seven-game losing streak. 

Tonight, the White Sox look to create another type of streak, by potentially winning two games consecutively. To help this effort, Chicago sends Iván Nova to the mound. Nova wasn’t super in his last start, which was against Atlanta on August 30th: In four innings pitched, he gave up eight hits and five runs (four of them earned), striking out none. However, his August overall was stellar, with a 1.95 ERA in 37 innings pitched. 

Nova’s Cleveland counterpart is Shane Bieber. The 24-year-old All-Star righty has a respectable 12-7 record, 4.2 WAR, and 3.27 ERA. He also carries an impressive 1.007 WHIP and 224 strikeouts into tonight’s game, placing him third in the American League in both of those categories. Interesting to note: Yoán Moncada, batting cleanup tonight, is slashing .556/.600/1.333 in 10 plate appearances vs. Bieber.

Speaking of lineups …

A streak has to start somewhere, right? Catch tonight’s 6:10 p.m. CST start televised on NBC Sports Chicago; for a more auditory experience, tune into WGN 720. 

White Sox are shut out in a well-pitched ballgame

Congratulations, Pito! There wasn’t much offense on the White Sox side, but at least José Abreu passed a milestone. (@WhiteSox)

The Chicago White Sox had three individual player accomplishments for this Saturday Player’s Weekend game, but they did not equate to a Good Guys victory. Two home runs by the Texas Rangers gave them the season series-tying victory (3-3), 4-0. Time to acknowledge the good before the bad:

First and foremost, a huge congratulations are in order for Mal Tiempo (José Abreu)! This storm hit his career 1,000th (and later, 1,001th!) hit, an opposite-field single in the first inning.

Of course, I have to give a shout-out to my guy, Noah Alan (Yolmer Sánchez). Alan recorded a single of his own, which extended his 11-game hitting streak to 12. Let’s keep it going, Noah!

TA7, with a single up the middle in the eighth inning, extended his personal hit streak to 11 games! Let’s keep it rolling!

As for the bulk of the game, Super Nova (Iván Nova) had it going for him. He pitched five scoreless innings as the supernova exploded this evening. However, defying science, the Texas Rangers were able to stop it. In the sixth inning, Osito (Willie Calhoun) hit a no-doubter to the front rows of Goose Island to give his team a 2-0 lead, breaking open the scoring for tonight’s ballgame.

Jimmy Cordero relieved Nova two-outs in the sixth. He escaped the inning without any further damage. However, with two outs in the seventh, Cordero gave up the second two-run blast of the night, to Danielito (Danny Santana). This doubled the Rangers lead to 4-0.

Kolby Allard (Paaa) pitched a fantastic game. 6.1 shutout innings gave Allard a QS in only his fourth career MLB start and seventh game overall.

The overall pitching of the Rangers overpowered any rally-like development, let alone a lone run in a frame for the White Sox. Although they were shut out tonight, look for some hopeful Stick Talk tomorrow!

The South Siders will finish this four-game set against the Rangers tomorrow at 1:10 CT before an off-day on Monday. Reynaldo López (7-11, 5.25 ERA) will pitch against Brock Burke (0-0, 0.00 ERA), in Burke’s second career MLB game. NBC Sports Chicago will have the broadcast, WGN has the radio, and Leigh Allan is back on your South Side Hit Pen coverage!

The sunglasses emoji will have to wait for another day for its SSHP debut…

Gamethread: Rangers at White Sox

McCannon: Chicago is our city. (White Sox)

The Big Baby returns to the Players’ Weekend lineup as the South Siders look to take the season series from the Rangers

Today marks game three of a four-game series with the Texas Rangers, and it also marks game two of three for Players’ Weekend.

From the creative cleats to colorful bats, I really enjoy this time of year. With a chance to take the season series from the Texas Rangers with a victory tonight, I might even like this weekend a little bit more!

Iván Nova, I mean Super Nova, is ready to accomplish that feat and keep rolling with his recent 5-0 record. With a chance to improve his personal record to 10-9 and give the Chicago White Sox their 60th win of the season, a supernova is in order!

For the opposition, Kolby Allard will play in his seventh career MLB game. This season, with three games under his belt, Paaa (not a typo) owns a 1-0 record, but a 6.60 ERA. Still a rookie, Allard will try to beat long-time veteran at his own game.

The South Siders will line up as follows to try and get to Paaa:

The Big Baby finds his way back into the lineup, batting fifth as tonight’s designated hitter. Yoyo precedes the Baby in his now-solidified fourth spot of the order, playing third base. Also, keep a look out for Mal Tiempo. Batting third and playing first, Bad Weather is storming up for his 1,000 hit of his career! Let’s see it happen, Pito! (Check out Whitesoxski’s article here on Mal Tiempo)

The Texas Rangers will send out the following to try to stop any supernova from occurring:

That will be a Choo-Santana-Andrus-Calhoun-Solak-Odor-Forsythe-Heineman-Mathis lineup. Hunter Pence is still out of the batting order as an injury precaution, so hopefully, the shrugging emoji can make it into tomorrow’s lineup because Pence is a very fun player to watch!

Of course, TA7 and the rest of the Good Guys have been the most fun to watch! Catch the Good Guys Wear Black on WGN, broadcast and radio. It’s a 6:10 CT start, and with this supernova, I would love to bring the sunglasses emoji in my SSHP gamethread/ game recap debut!