Weak links exposed as Cubs crush Sox to prevent a sweep

Coming into Thursday night, the White Sox thought Scott Carroll could be a useful temporary contributor to the starting rotation, Moises Sierra was worth a look in right field, and Maikel Cleto could at least serve as the last man in the bullpen. After the 12-5 clobbering the Cubs laid down to end the Crosstown Series, it's hard to see all three concepts lasting the night. Adrian Nieto even came in late and mucked it up behind the plate for a bit for the sake of completion.

Someone with Carroll's stuff has to be a control aficionado, and after masquerading as such for two starts, he was erratic with his fastball early and just plain vulnerable late. A Starlin Castro double play saved him from two singles in the first inning, and he pitched over plunking Mike Olt in the second, but he had the game taken from him in the second time through the order.

After the first of a couple Moises Sierra misplays in right spotted Ryan Kalish a leadoff triple in the third, the Cubs batted around. A high sinker allowed for a massive two-run bomb from Anthony Rizzo, and other sins of the inning included plunking Welington Castillo (poor Wely was hit twice, the second time by a 97 mph Maikel Cleto fastball) and walking the hopelessly lost Junior Lake to push across the fourth and final run of the inning, erasing the 2-0 lead he was handed. Carroll would throw another two-run gopher ball to Starlin Castro in the fourth, and leave after 4+ innings with 11 hits allowed.

Sierra's RBI single--a chopped grounded through the shortstop-third base hole after hacking his way out of a 3-0 count--put the Sox up 1-0 in the second, but he also ended the rally by just forgetting the numbers of outs and getting doubled off on a Gordon Beckham lineout. After his bobbling of Kalish's ball made for a third-inning triple, Sierra gave Rizzo a double in the eighth by losing a fly ball on the warning track.

The Cubs wound up adding five runs in that inning and turning a 6-4 affair into a laugher, but more important than Sierra's result was his approach. He staggered in confusion when he had to backpeddle in the outfield, he hacked with long, confused swings even after being gifted hitter's counts, and he's racked up an impressive string of awful baserunning plays for someone who's been here for less than a week. 

After a shaky seventh, Robin Ventura tried holding the Cubs advantage by getting a second inning from Cleto. The decision did not pay dividends.

Cleto walked three, hit another, and when he finally became reduced to just trying to groove in his still wayward fastball for strikes, Olt took him deep for backbreaking grand slam. Carroll and Sierra were bad, but Cleto has been bad and has proven replacements behind him. Don't buy his jersey.

The Sox offense was willing to provide if the pitching had been interested. They wore down and drove out an erratic Jake Arrieta after four innings and four runs, rapped out 13 hits, albeit all singles, including four from Alexei Ramirez and two for newly-returned Conor Gillaspie


Box Score

Team Record: 18-18

Next game is tomorrow night vs. Arizona at 7:10pm CT on Comcast SportsNet-Plus


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