CHICAGO — The offense looked a bit better on Sunday night, but the new extra-inning rules got the best of the White Sox in a 5-4 loss to Cleveland, in front of a national television audience.
Both teams had their best on the mound for a national TV audience on Sunday night. Lucas Giolito and Shane Bieber are not only their respective team's best pitchers, but they are two of the best young arms in the American League.
Their showdown was as advertised, as Bieber completed six innings, striking out eight and giving up three runs. Giolito went an inning longer, tossing seven, giving up two runs, and striking out nine.
Abreu moves down, and sends one out
After scuffling out of the three-hole, José Abreu moved down exactly one spot in the lineup for Sunday's game. He responded with a second-inning solo blast off of Bieber, who had only given up two runs all season long before the homer.
After two clean innings, Giolito ran into some trouble in the top of third. A walk and three hits put Cleveland ahead after a José Ramírez RBI single. The inning could have been much worse, with Cleveland star Francisco Lindor up with runners on the corners, but Giolito coaxed Lindor into an inning-ending double play.
Ricky Renteria continues to find ways to feature James McCann and Yasmani Grandal in the same lineup. On Sunday night, Grandal got his first career start for the White Sox at first base, and McCann took the Giolito start behind the plate. As he showed us in his breakout 2019, McCann's bat is way too valuable to not be in the lineup. The challenge is getting him in there consistently with so many DH/1B/C types on the roster.
On Sunday night, Ricky's inclusion of both catchers in the lineup worked wonders. In the bottom of the sixth inning, McCann smacked a solo shot to left field to tie the game, and after a Yoán Moncada walk, Grandal deposited an RBI double into the right-center gap to give the Sox the lead.
Here's McCann's full postgame session, courtesy of the White Sox:
Since his opening day blip against the Twins, Giolito has been locked in and looked every bit like the pitcher who broke out in 2019. In his last two starts, Giolito has thrown 12 innings, allowed only two runs, and struck out 18.
In a banged-up starting rotation with a couple of questionable arms, Giolito remains unquestioned. He figured something out coming into 2019, and hasn't looked back. He's always had the repertoire to be a No. 1, but with confidence and control, his potential has come to fruition.
Here's Giolito's full postgame session, courtesy of the White Sox:
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Sunday night's game gave the Sox their first look at the temporary 2020 rule of having a runner start on second base in extra innings. Cleveland took advantage and utilized a Delino DeShields Jr. safety squeeze to take the lead, followed by a Mike Freeman RBI single to pad it.
In the bottom of the 10th, with Nomar Mazara as their runner to start on second base, Luis Robert hit a ball that might have been a home run on a sunny afternoon, but the torrential downpour kept his ball in the yard. McCann followed with an RBI single, scoring Mazara, and Danny Mendick drew a four-pitch walk. Maybe they were worried about the cardboard fans melting, but the grounds-crew had seen enough, and the game went into a delay.
The delay lasted 46 minutes, but when play resumed, it took less than five minutes to conclude. Leury García swung at the first pitch he saw, popping up for out No. 2, and Moncada followed with a strikeout to end the game.
That game hurts a bit for the Sox, after Giolito delivered such a masterful performance. The offense gave them just enough to put this game away, but the bullpen wasn't its sterling self tonight.
The new extra-inning rule is bound to be a point of frustration for Sox fans, especially after tonight's outcome, but they had the same opportunity afforded to them, and couldn't get the job done.
The Sox get to start fresh tomorrow night in Detroit, starting a three-game series against the Tigers. Dallas Keuchel will face off against Michael Fulmer, with the game is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CT.