By: Joe Bontana
Recap of the Cleveland Series
The White Sox began the week by squandering a golden opportunity to gain ground on the Cleveland Indians, one of the teams they are chasing in their fading quest for the second AL Wild Card spot. In the Monday opener, and with ace Chris Sale on the mound, they wasted an early two run lead by surrendering three solo home runs to the Indians’ Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn, who entered the game with nine HR’s between them.
They bounced back on Tuesday, with a 7-4 win behind another solid start (7 innings and 1 ER) by Carlos Rodon (7-6). Rob Brantly (HR, 3 RBIs), Jose Abreu (HR, 2 RBIs), and star prospect call-up Trayce Thompson (2 RBIs on 2 hits and 1 BB) provided enough offensive firepower to hold off the Indians amid another extremely shaky performance by the bullpen in the persons of Nate Jones, who gave up 2 ER and a HR, and Zach Duke, who also gave up a HR. David Robertson came in to get the final out in the top of the ninth and preserve the win for Rodon and the Sox.
On Wednesday, the Sox dropped the rubber game of the series, as Jeff Smardzija (9-12) turned in another sub-par (6 2/3 innings and 4 ER), and the Sox wasted home runs by Trayce Thompson (2 RBIs), Tyler Saladino, and Jose Abreu to lose by a final score of 6-4. Indians rookie SS Francisco Lindor finished a double short of the cycle, and starter Josh Tomlin (5-1) got the victory in spite of surrendering the three Sox HRs, and Cody Allen earned his 30th save.
Sox Lose Twins Series Opener to Fall Back to 7.5 Games Behind in Wild Card Race
After an off day on Thursday, which saw them move to only 6.5 games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL Wild Card race, the Sox dropped the opener to the Twins by a final score of 6-2. The Sox wasted a solid second start by prospect call-up Erick Johnson, who went 5 innings and gave up only one ER, striking out six and surrendering five walks and a home run to Trevor Plouffe. Daniel Webb got the blown save and Nate Jones (1-2) took the loss, as they each gave up one ER over three innings of work. The major bullpen fail of the evening went to Zach Putnam, who surrendered three hits and three earned runs in 1/3rd of an inning. For any baseball statisticians among our readers, that would project to an ERA of 81.00. Ervin Santana (5-4) got the win on a 7 inning 2 ER performance. Plouffe was the offensive star for the Twins with a 2 HR and 3 RBI performance.
What’s Next for the Sox
The White Sox continue the three game series against the Twins on Saturday. Jose Quintana (8-12) will take the hill for the Sox, opposing the Twins’ Tommy Milone (8-4). The Sox are now 7.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot with only 23 games remaining. Given that the Twins are one of the teams the Sox must pass to reach their goal, saying that winning these next two games is absolutely essential is no overstatement.