Beef au jus: The catcher launched a pinch-hit home run in the seventh, giving many of us temporary hope. (@WhiteSox)
It's no chef's secret that the Braves have been cooking in the NL East, as they now hold a 5 1/2-game lead over the Washington Nationals. And it's no surprise that Atlanta starter Max Fried reduced the Chicago into a multi-course meal in Friday's 10-7 White Sox loss.
Iván Nova, who came in with a 1.99 lifetime ERA pitching against the Braves, unfortunately no longer holds that accord. Early errant control, Nova's bread-and-butter cutter/slide combo not filling, and the Braves lineup just generally being packed with great hitters resulted in Nova being placed on the menu.
The Braves got in line at the buffet table in the second inning, as Josh Donaldson walked; Matt Joyce singled on a bunt to Yoán Moncada, advancing Donaldson, and Dansby Swanson handed out plates as he singled, scoring Donaldson to put the Braves up, 1-0.
Next, #OldFriend Tyler Flowers touched all the cutlery, smacking one right on out of here, touching all the bases for a three-run home run.
In the third, Nova got himself into a pickle, walking Donaldson (again), Joyce following with a single (AGAIN, what is this, Master Chef reruns?) and Swanson, this time, getting beaned.
Nova managed to strawberry out of this jam, but would find himself somewhat pickled in the fourth: A two-out single by Ozzie Albies begat a Freddie Freeman double after the Braves challenged — and won — a White Sox tag-out. (What's it like to win one of those, anyway?) Albies scored, making it 5-0, Braves, and making it the last batter faced by Nova, as Jace Fry flies out of the pan and into the fire the next inning.
But before that, the postgame show finally was cancelled in the fifth, when Eloy Jiménez singled to third, Donaldson just barely snagging the ball. James McCann artfully drew a walk, and Adam Engel got the Sox on the board with a sharp line drive to right field, scoring Jiménez, trimming the deficit to 5-1.
Our #OldFriend Flowers returned in the sixth and smacked a double, moving to third on a Fried bunt. Kelvin Hererra tagged in for Fry, and backstabbed the southpaw by allowing an Albies infield single, scoring Flowers.
The seventh found the Sox finally coming home from the grocery store. Jiménez started things with a sharp, line-drive single; McCann was then hit by Fried. Yolmer Sánchez reached on an error by Freddie Freeman, scoring Jiménez and advancing McCann to second. The Sox were down four, and it was time for a ... pinch-hitter?
Wait, who ordered the Beef?
Welington understood the importance of the culinary arts, and National League pitcher-sub baseball, with a three-run blast that trimmed the lead to 6-5, Braves. RBDQ!
In the Braves half of the seventh, Aaron Bummer took the carving knife from Herrera but dropped it on the floor, walking both Donaldson (yes, again), and Joyce. #OldFriend walks, too. What gives? Surrender your chef's coat, Aaron, Evan Marshall is going to rescue your meal. If only; Adeiny Hechevarria singled to center, scoring Donaldson and Joyce.
While Marshall meditated on his knife skills, in true RBDQ fashion Ricky started beefing with umpire Brian Knight on a two-strike count. Some rather strong words were said, and Knight tipped with Renteria's 26th career ejection.
Do we really have to talk about the eighth? I mean, it IS Friday night and I've been talking about food throughout this whole recap, how about we just get outta here and grab a burger and milkshake to distract us from the impending ennui? Yeah, that's it, let's get a big ol' milkshake and forget about this inning.
Ozzie "The Booger" Albies doubled (icing his fifth career four-hit game). From there Freeman noticed Leury García misreading a ball and charged towards third for a Little League triple, scoring Albies and making it 9-5, Braves.
That's when Donaldson gets mowed in a rundown, but no one's covering second, so José Abreu made a jumping tag for the second out of the eigth inning — yeah, that was only the second out — and thankfully, Abreu's OK after pulling that stunt. Freeman already knows what's up; tagging from third to score.
RBDQ doesn't die when Ricky's ejected, or when it's 10-5 in the ninth. Hell, it might just get stronger. Sánchez walked, then took second on "defensive indifference" (a great metaphor for tonight's White Sox defense!) That's when Ryan Goins singled, moving Sánchez to third. With two out, García singled in both, redeeming himself for his earlier fielding gaffe. However, any attempts at true RBDQ are deflated as Tim Anderson strikes out on a knuckle curve from Mark Melancon.
Nova was not in his usual second-half form. His final line? Four innings pitched, eight hits, five earned. Two walks, and no strikeouts. Nova is notorious for giving up many hits, and the Braves certainly capitalized early on this. Worse, Nova fell behind in the count constantly, especially while throwing to Donaldson, who found himself on base, often. Nova's record fell to 9-11.
Max Fried started strong, retiring the first 12 batters he faced. Despite having one inning where he made some mistakes, his offense rallied behind him. Fried went six innings, gave up four hits, four runs (three earned), one walk and 11 strikeouts. He improves to 15-4.
Tomorrow's 6:20 CST matchup features the resilient Reynaldo López (11-8, 5.08 ERA) facing Dallas Keuchel (5-5, 3.78 ERA). Wait, who? Ashley Sanders will try to break into the SSHP win column with your Saturday coverage. Tune in on your fancy televisions on NBC Sports Chicago; if you've got one of them newfangled radios, set your dial to WGN 720.