The White Sox had their first ESPN Sunday Night Baseball appearance on Sunday against the Angels. The final game of the series featured Dylan Cease on the mound for the White Sox, and Shohei Ohtani pitching for the Angels. Not only was Ohtani pitching, he was also batting in place of the designated hitter, hitting second in the Halos’ lineup.
The scoring events for the Sox in this game were unusual, to say the least. ESPN’s broadcast crew didn’t help with the demeanor of the night for fans, gushing over anything the Angels did and ignoring the Sox existence.
1st – 3rd inning
Ohtani came out throwing over 100 mph from the start. The Sox hitters took him deep into the counts, but Jose Abreu was the only batter able to draw a walk.
In the bottom of the first, Leury Garcia took the field at shortstop. The lineup change was result of Tim Anderson tweaking his hamstring running to first base to open the game.
Lead-off hitter David Fletcher hit a Cease pitch hard down the line to open the game. Despite solid contact, Moncada chased it down and threw him out. The next hitter was Ohtani. Cease gave him a first pitch fastball that Ohtani put in the left-field seats.
Cease followed the home run by giving up singles to both Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, as well as a walk to Jared Walsh. The Angels made it 2-0 on a sacrifice fly by Justin Upton soon after. Cease looked like the 2020 version of himself, with his same control issues and only having two pitches to lean on.
The Sox went three up, three down to start the second. Cease came back out and had a fly-out, walk, fielders choice, and line-out to conclude the second. While this sounds like a good recovery for Cease, he was still working deep into pitch counts.
Billy Hamilton got his first start on Sunday. He came out with a single in his first at-bat, and eventually stole second base. With Hamilton on second with no outs, the next three Sox batters went down with nothing to show for it.
4th – 6th inning
Ohtani continued his dominance in the fourth inning. While he did walk both Yoan Moncada and Yasmani Grandal, he struck out Abreu, Yermin Mercedes, and Luis Robert to end any threat. Cease came up in the bottom of the fourth, continuing to display the same control issues that have plagued him his whole career. He struck out Upton, but that was followed by a Jose Iglesias single.
Juan Lagares went down swinging, but Cease started to unhinge with two outs. He walked Max Stassi, sending Iglesias to second. Fletcher singled to right, scoring Iglesias from second in the next at-bat. However, Ohtani grounded out to end the inning, limiting the damage.
In the top of the fifth, the Sox bats started to make more contact with the ball. Hamilton had a hard line out to right. Madrigal followed Hamilton with an infield single. Garcia grounded into a fielders choice soon after, landing on first.
In the middle of Adam Eaton’s at bat, Ohtani overthrew Walsh on a pick-off attempt to first base. With the vast foul territory, Garcia was able to advance from first to third on the errant throw. Eaton and Abreu’s at-bats both resulted in walks, loading the bases.
Ohtani’s first pitch got a way from him, scoring Garcia and moving the runners up one base. Moncada appeared to go down swinging, but the ball got away from the catcher on a drop third strike. The play at first was going to be close but the throw down was wild and got away. Eaton scored with ease and Abreu slid in on a close play on at the plate, toppling Ohtani. Ohtani had to leave the game after he was shaken up on the fall.
With the game now tied at three, Angels manager Joe Maddon was forced to put Steve Cishek in to get the final out.
Cease retired the first two batters to start the bottom of the fifth. Hitting his pitch count limit, Tony La Russa pulled Cease for Cody Heuer. Walsh, the first batter Heuer faced, homered to right, giving the Angels a 4-3 lead. Heuer also gave up a single, but he stopped the bleeding by getting Iglesias to fly out.
In the top of the sixth, the Sox lack of offense continued with Grandal striking out, Robert getting a single, and Hamilton and Madrigal both flying out. The Angels mirrored the Sox from the previous half inning. Lagares grounded out, Stassi singled, Fletcher hit into a fielders choice, and Albert Pujols grounded out.
7th – 9th Innings
Garcia got on on and stole second to start the seventh inning. Eaton grounded out, moving Garcia to third with one out. Unfortunately, both Abreu and Moncada couldn’t do anything to bring Garcia in. The Angels started off with a Trout walk. Redon and Walsh couldn’t touch Aaron Bummer, who was brought in to start the inning. Upton was hit by a pitch, but Bummer locked it down getting Iglesias to ground out.
In the eighth, Mercedes got on base, but the next three batters couldn’t find a way to get the ball in play. La Russa called upon Jose Ruiz for the bottom of the eighth. Ruiz pitched his way to a 1-2-3 inning.
Madrigal lead off the night being hit by a pitch. Garcia moved him over on a fielder’s choice. Eaton grounded back to Iglesias while Madrigal was half way between second and third. Iglesias air-mailed his throw to third, allowing Madrigal to score on the error.
The ball game was now tied 4-4 with all Sox scoring coming on huge mistakes by the Angels’ defense. The theme of the night continued though. With Eaton on second and one out, Abreu struck out, Moncada walked, and Mercedes flew out. The Sox inability to get hits with runners in scoring position killed them all game.
Surprisingly with the game tied, La Russa sent Ruiz back out to start the ninth. Dexter Fowler singled in his first at-bat and La Russa gave Ruiz the hook. Matt Foster came in to attempt to get the final three outs. Foster had an incredible first sequence striking out Trout. He then proceeded to walk Rendon. Walsh came up and muscled a ball over the fence giving the Angels a 7-4 walk-off win.
While Ohtani was on the mound, the Sox couldn’t get the bat on the ball. All of the scoring came on mistakes by the Angels. When the White Sox had runners in scoring position, they couldn’t create their own luck.
While there were no defensive errors in this game, the bullpen let the team down. More importantly, this was the first time we saw La Russa mismanage a game. He trotted out Ruiz to start the ninth when he proved last year he did not deserve to be in high leverage situations. While turning to Matt Foster wasn’t ideal, LaRussa had Hendriks warming up. With the game tied in the ninth, on the road, trying to split the series, this is really where Hendriks should be used.
After the game, it was reported that Tim Anderson will be day-to-day with his injury. The White Sox head to Seattle to face the Mariners on Monday night.