Inclement weather early in the week set up the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Guardians for a doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon. After two days of waiting to get on the field, only one team was ready to play, and that team was not the White Sox.
The South Siders got off to a disastrous start, dropping the first game by a score of 11-1. Cleveland got off to a fast start and never looked back. Guardians ace Shane Bieber had plenty of run support and got it early to the tune of a double-digit lead after just two innings.
A Doozy in Game 1
The White Sox seemed to have escaped disaster in the first inning. Jose Abreu could not come up with errant throws from Tim Anderson and Jake Burger. The first of the two errors to reach base scored after Amed Rosario beat out an infield single. Despite the defensive blunders, being down just 1-0 after the first inning meant the White Sox were still in the ballgame.
However, more poor defense and pitching the next time out allowed the Guardians to finish what they started. An error by Anderson and four consecutive singles made the score 3-0 with no outs and the bases loaded. Jose Ramirez took the third pitch from Dallas Keuchel for a line drive grand slam to left, officially breaking open the game.
The rout was on and Cleveland was up 7-0 with no outs. By the end of the second, the Guardians built a 10-0 lead after sending 13 men to the plate.
Keuchel didn't record an out in the second and Tanner Banks had to finish the inning. Anderson made two errors in the inning and Keuchel's final line was an abomination: 1 IP, 10 R, 8 ER, 10 H, 1 BB, 0 K.
Despite entering with an already lopsided score, Tanner Banks restored order in the game. He retired all of the batters he faced in order. The lefty threw 49 pitches, 37 of them for strikes (10 called, four swinging), in four scoreless innings.
The innings piled up for the White Sox bullpen. Banks, Matt Foster, and Anderson Severino finished the game with a combined seven innings of one-run baseball. The trio was the only bright spot of the game for the South Siders.
Cleveland starter Shane Bieber cruised to his first victory of the season. He finished with a line of 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. White Sox bats generated very little hard contact against the Guardians ace, who they will see a couple more times in 2022.
The South Siders' lone run of the game came when Tim Anderson doubled home Adam Engel in the top of the sixth inning.
Sox Lifeless in Game 2
The Chicago White Sox didn't fare much better in the second half of the doubleheader despite a much closer score. It was another unfavorable pitching matchup with Jimmy Lambert on the bump to face Triston McKenzie. Tony La Russa elected to go with a starting lineup of mostly reserves. Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, and Luis Robert all sat the bench in the second contest.
In his second start of the season, Lambert allowed two runs through 3.2 innings and met expectations. He kept the score close and his team in the game. McKenzie issued four walks and one hit in his 4.1 innings of work.
The one run -- and only the second tally the White Sox generated across the two games -- came in the fifth inning. McKenzie walked the first two hitters and gave up an RBI double to Danny Mendick, one of only four Sox hits on the day. A magnificent throw down the left-field line from Steven Kwan nailed Adam Engel at home. Despite Engel's speed, it was an aggressive send by third base coach Joe McEwing that didn't pay off.
The Lone Bright Spot Of They Day
It's difficult to extract positives after two losses on the same day. But it's even more difficult to ignore the work of the White Sox bullpen.
Reynaldo Lopez, Bennett Sousa, Kyle Crick, Aaron Bummer, and Jose Ruiz were outstanding. They combined for 4.1 IP, six strikeouts, one hit, and no walks. On the day, Sox relievers pitched 11.1 innings of one-run baseball.
We Move On
The Chicago White Sox bats have been mostly silent for the last six games. They have scored a combined 12 runs in those games going back to the finale of the Seattle series.
It's is difficult to find a single hitter that isn't struggling as they are all slumping to various degrees. This is a trend that cannot continue. Recording eight hits in a doubleheader doesn't inspire confidence, but the White Sox must press forward due to a quick turnaround.
If the White Sox drop the finale, they will fall to 6-6 and one game behind Cleveland for first place in the AL Central.
Bennett Sousa pitched four scoreless innings in Game 1. Tanner Banks has yet to allow a run.
The White Sox made five errors in Game 1. Tim Anderson committed three of them.
Josh Harrison left Game 2 with a shoulder injury after a diving catch.
What's On Tap Next?
The Chicago White Sox look to hold first place in the division with a win Thursday to salvage the series against the Cleveland Guardians. An excellent pitching matchup is in store with Dylan Cease set to face Zach Plesac. Fun fact: Luis Robert is hitting .500 with two doubles in 10 career at-bats vs. Plesac. The series finale gets underway at 12:10 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago.