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White Sox pitchers need to cut down mistakes after ‘piss-poor’ day, ugly 13-homer series vs. Giants

Vinnie Duber Avatar
April 6, 2023

Piss-poor (adj.): of extremely inferior or disappointing quality or rating.

Welcome to vocabulary class with Lance Lynn.

“There’s no way to sugarcoat it. All and all, it was a piss-poor day.”

According to the White Sox hurler, it was a hurl-worthy day at the yard Thursday, an assessment difficult to argue with in the wake of a 16-6 loss.

The score was only that close thanks to the White Sox adding three meaningless, ninth-inning runs against a position player. Though if we’re judging on that scale, do we also have to ascribe worthlessness to the final four the Giants put up, which came on a grand slam against Hanser Alberto, a position player in his own right?

That it was not Alberto’s first pitching appearance of the series says all that needs to be said.

Way back on Monday, it was a home-opener to forget for the White Sox, who gave up seven home runs – including five just on Michael Kopech’s tab – in an ugly defeat. But if the White Sox truly succeeded in “flushing” that monstrosity, how come there was a rerun two games later? Thursday, the Giants tagged Lynn for three more homers and hit one apiece off Alberto and José Ruiz to bring their series total to a whopping 13.

The baker’s dozen of blasts accounted for the most ever in a three-game series played at Guaranteed Rate Field, which let’s remember is almost as old as I am.

In other words, it was ugly.

“Yeah, it was a bad series,” Lynn said. “When we made mistakes, they made it hurt. That will happen. Unfortunately, it happens during your first homestand (of the season), so that sucks.

“We have to make better pitches, quality pitches, and that’s something we are very capable of doing.”

We didn’t think the White Sox would have to worry about their starting pitching over all else, even if we’re looking at things just a week into their 162-game marathon of a season. In four games in Houston, the starting pitching was generally good. Dylan Cease dazzled, Lynn and Lucas Giolito turned in fine efforts, and Mike Clevinger was a pleasant surprise with eight strikeouts in his White Sox debut.

But several days later, things have changed. Such is the case when the sample size is this small and the news cycle this short. But ugly outings for Kopech and Lynn were far from confidence-inspiring, even if there is a long way to go. Getting punched in the teeth is never fun, and that’s what the Giants did to the White Sox this week, even if Cease helped steal a game Wednesday.

“They didn’t miss much this week,” Seby Zavala said, giving credit to the Giants’ hitters. “Not a good series. Have to find a way to wash this away and move on to the next. We have to play tomorrow, and just because we have one bad game, one bad series, doesn’t mean we’re done.”

Certainly not, but the red flags were there. If it wasn’t the barrage of baseballs leaving the yard, it was the endless flow of walks that brought to mind the Gashouse Gorillas’ conga line in that Bugs Bunny cartoon. All told, White Sox pitchers issued 21 walks in three games, a miserable total that not even Cease could say he was clean of, issuing five free passes after throwing up a goose egg in that category in the season-opener.

But whether the homers or the walks, there’s reason to be confident this will be a mere blip for the White Sox’ rotation. The team already went to work identifying what went so wrong for Kopech – there were questions Monday about whether he was tipping his pitches, considering four of the five homers he gave up came in the same inning – and according to Pedro Grifol, there were some conclusions drawn.

“We’ve looked at it, we’ve had our people look at it, our team look at it,” he said. “I’ll keep (what was discovered) in-house, but there’s going to be some adjustments made, for sure.”

Keep an eye out for that Sunday, when Kopech gets his next turn against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Perhaps that can provide more solace than anything, that the White Sox get three straight games with the lowly Pirates to get things right. Of course, the Giants aren’t expected to do much of anything in a competitive NL West this season, and they arrived on the South Side after getting blanked in three tries against the Yankees last weekend.

The bottom line is simply that White Sox pitchers need to be better. If the explanation from Grifol and his players was that the Giants made the White Sox pay for their mistakes, the takeaway is to not make so many mistakes. Even Cease, who gave up just one hit Wednesday, talked about failure to execute as the reason for his high walk total. Zavala bluntly pointed to the number of mistakes Lynn made Thursday. And obviously things weren’t going right for Kopech three days prior.

Mistakes – defensively, on the base paths, when it came to pitch selection at the plate – defined the massive disappointment of last year’s White Sox team. Grifol and his new coaching staff were brought in to reduce the number of those mistakes dramatically.

No one’s going to be perfect, not in this game. But the White Sox can’t let mistakes become a habit a second year in a row.

White Sox fans know how that movie ends.

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