Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition or the White Sox Offense

Coming out of the All Star Break, the White Sox went 1-5 against the Royals and Cardinals, while averaging three runs a game on offense. As they stared at 42-50 with a -81 run differential on the season, there wasn’t much reason for optimism as they started a 4-game set in Cleveland against the likes of Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar.

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Important stuff from a 6-0 game the Sox lost to the Blue Jays because scoring was required

After Adam LaRoche read the riot act on the White Sox offense Sunday, calling their performance "embarrassing" and acknowledging that they had been making "good pitchers look great," the White Sox squared off with the Blue Jays and....really showed everyone what he was talking about.

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Important stuff from another 8-1 loss to the Twins on the darkest timeline

The Astros and the Royals are the American League's very best, the Twins are hitting with vigor and purpose again, and the Sox can't find anyone who can even slug .500, or catch line drives hit right at them, or string hits together off No. 6 quality starters from the Minnesota Twins. Or anything.

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Important stuff from a 3-2 coming out party for Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija had Torii Hunter struck out in the first inning, he had fooled him with a tumbling sinker that looked like it had slid under his desperate lunge, only to have it dribble out between Geovany Soto's legs and was called a foul tip. Two batters, and maybe five minutes later it was 2-0, after Samardzija had blown his two-strike count to Hunter, allowed him to score when he blew an 0-2 count to Joe Mauer for an RBI double, completely fell asleep as Mauer got a running lead and stole third, which allowed him to score on sacrifice fly.

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Important stuff from a 5-2 loss to the Indians that at least wasn't a shutout

Kudos to you if you walked out of work or school Thursday, let the wind hit your face and thought "It's be a while since John Danks got hammered in dispiriting fashion and took the Sox out of the game from the jump." You live a life chased by the constant shadow of doom, but damn if you're not perceptive. Danks got gobsmacked for back-to-back home runs from the normally tepid pair of Nick Swisher (homerless until tonight) and Mike Aviles, and the Sox were down 4-0 before they took an at-bat, which I suppose provided ample excuse to bypass taking any good ones all night.

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Important stuff from another run-starved 4-3 loss to the Indians

Things are just a little too back to normal for the White Sox. They struggled to make contact against a marginal starter, they biffed away a lead with defensive miscues, they will not win the series for the first time out of the last five, and they're a losing ballclub again. It's familiar, in a way that the end of a sunny day reminds you that the electricity in your apartment is out.

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The White Sox can go back to being dependent on home runs anytime now

This is the offense that baseball purist White Sox fans long craved for. They put a bat on a ball (sixth-lowest strikeout rate in the AL is a great leap forward for them, and it's combined with the fourth-lowest walk rate) and they don't swing for the fences hardly at all (AL-worst 23 home runs). In fact, with a .109 ISO (worst in baseball, despite half the league having to put pitchers in their lineup) they make a point of never getting close.

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Important stuff from a 2-1 victory and an electrifying Sale-Kluber pitcher's duel

A pitching matchup between Corey Kluber and Chris Sale looks pretty good on paper, looks awesome and gripping and electrifying on TV, and probably looks like the reckoning from the batter's box.

Chris Sale was sharp and enduring. He continues to look like he's hammering out the details of a modified recipe where his slider is a bit player, but is closer to the finished product than he was last month. And yet, even with eight innings of one-run ball, he was outclassed most of the night by Kluber, who was so vicious that Conor Gillaspie got applause for making contact to end the second after the first five batters of the night whiffed. The Sox picked away at the armor on occasion but spoke after the game like war survivors and thieves. Sale had the skill to hang tight and the scoreboard even as the style point disparity grew, and there's a certain degree of gratitude to have a stake in such a compelling masterpiece.

When Kluber left the game after nine innings, things quickly swung in the Sox favor, with Zach McAllister letting the first two runners reach before an 0-2, two-out flare from Carlos Sanchez gave them their sixth win a row in the form of a 10-inning thriller.

Box Score 

  • Let's not pretend that Sale wasn't good, or even very good. You don't give up four hits in eight innings throwing slop. Facing an Indians lineup that didn't have many good matchup against the lanky lefty--batting Ryan Raburn cleanup was their big countermove--Sale was economical, shook off early control problems, and mostly lived off his fastball-change combo unless he was forced off. On nights like this you can glimpse the reasoning for it.
  • That said, David Robertson coming for the ninth was brilliant from Robin. The margin for error was remaining razor sharp while the leverage was spiking, with Sale becoming more vulnerable. That's the time for Robertson.
  • Adam Eaton was 1-4 on the night, including a first-pitch pop-up that stranded two runners. But he single-handedly scored the tying run in the sixth, effectively forcing extras when he tripled with one out, and dashed home and dived for a score on a barely wild pitch, right in the middle of two dominating Kluber strikeouts that otherwise would have stranded him.
  • Zach McAllister also gave an opportunity for Carlos Sanchez to have a more fitting homecoming moment than getting overwhelmed by Kluber, and gave him something to push the other way after starting him off 0-2. Positive reinforcement moments for rookies struggling to find their footing are always nice.
  • Avisail Garcia left the game after leading off the tenth with a walk in favor of J.B. Shuck, who would score the winning run. There was an argument for the move on its own, but Garcia reportedly had knee inflammation that had originally cropped up in Oakland. The White Sox are painting it as a precaution, which will ultimately be tested by how Garcia feels tomorrow. He's probably just circling the bases too much.

Next game is Tuesday night at 7:10pm CT vs. the Indians on CSN

Important stuff from a rehabilitating 4-2 series winner in Milwaukee

The plan was to throw the Sox top-line starters headlong into a week of games against the last place Brewers and A's, and come out a lot closer to .500 ball and feeling like contenders. After the White Sox-mandated early hiccup, back-to-back virtuoso efforts by Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, and just enough offense have the Sox looking punchy once more. Maybe they're even confident that they won't get mysteriously mauled in Oakland. 14-17 buys a lot of flights of fancy.

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Important stuff from a 4-2 Chris Sale Day victory over the Brewers

Normally Chris Sale domination is an assumed element of Chris Sale Day, but after a curiously delayed start to the season, two-straight clunkers, and another suspension-caused extra break, there has been plenty of time to create anxiety that he would look like himself again.

And then he came out and razed the Brewers lineup and all was fine. 

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Rodon shows flashes of brilliance, earns first victory

After Carlos Rodon struck out Marlon Byrd to end the fifth inning of his debut as a starter with the White Sox on Saturday night, the TV broadcast showed a brief exchange between the young lefty and pitching coach Don Cooper that appeared to be as simple as Cooper saying "how are you feeling?"

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Important stuff from a 7-6 comeback win over the Tigers to save Chris Sale Day

The fun thing about being a good team--and this is theory from me, since I've been blogging Sox stuff since 2010 and never covered a playoff game--is that you have enough potential for impactful play up and down the roster that you can survive a disappointing performance from a reliable contributor. As bad as White Sox starting pitching has been, with shaky starts from presumed headliners Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana, and once more again Wednesday night, Chris Sale, is that the offense has provided no hope of picking them up.

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Important stuff from a lazy 5-3 loss to the Twins

After the way the last two nights went, the White Sox decided to turn away from this "entering the game with a massive starting pitching advantage" business and play some real ball with Hector Noesi vs. Ricky Nolasco. Things went marginally better in the sense that you could count several moral victories the same way you would be tabulating tiny triumphs for a newly-formed youth soccer team trying to keep their composure after getting annihilated every Saturday.

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Important stuff from a double-victory Sunday over the heartily disliked Royals

The Royals have dealt the Sox four losses, two suspensions and just a world of insult and embarrassment so far this season, and the Sox need to start getting their revenge in large chunks. They got things started early when Avisail Garcia fisted a walkoff to end the game that was suspended for rain Friday night at a 2-2 tie. David Robertson pitched a clean ninth for a win, then followed it up a few hours later with a save to seal a 5-3 comeback triumph.

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Important stuff from a 6-0 celebration of life at the expense of the Indians

Life is good! Life is just! The universe has rewarded us for our sufferiiiiiiiiiiiing! Which is, um, to say, that a powerful performance from the White Sox that affirmed their ability to hang with the elites of the AL Central was due. Overdue? No, it's April 22nd. Nothing is overdue. And we're stretching it to call the Indians AL Central elite since this was essentially a tiebreaker game to determine who has been the biggest early-season disappointment among AL Central contenders.

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