Chris Sale’s stand against the White Sox 1976 throwback jerseys forced manager Robin Ventura to use his bullpen for an entire game. And the Johnny Wholestaff approach almost worked with the team’s ace left-hander sent home following that sensational pregame incident.
The White Sox needed seven relievers to play the Detroit Tigers to a rain-shortened 3-3 tie after eight innings Saturday night in front of 32,527 at U.S. Cellular Field. The game was suspended and will be finished Sunday beginning at 1:10 p.m., with the day’s regularly-scheduled game beginning 30 minutes after the final out.
The start of Saturday’s game was delayed for 10 minutes due to rain, and there was a 74-minute rain delay after the second inning due to a heavy thunderstorm.
Of course, the literal storms paled in comparison to the figurative one that exploded out of the White Sox clubhouse Saturday evening. Sale was scratched from his start about 30 minutes before the scheduled first pitch, with a vague statement from general manager Rick Hahn mentioning a “non-physical” incident in the clubhouse that was under investigation by the team.
Just as the second rain delay hit, though, a report surfaced — which was later confirmed by CSNChicago.com’s Dan Hayes — that Sale, who started for the American League All-Stars last week in San Diego, was so furious over having to wear the team’s 1976 throwback uniforms that he cut them up so they couldn’t be worn. Sale was sent home by the White Sox after the incident.
Without anything close to ample time to shuttle a starting pitcher up from the minor leagues to replace Sale, the White Sox started right-hander Matt Albers despite the 33-year-old throwing an inning both Thursday and Friday against the Tigers.
Albers allowed one run in two innings before the storm struck. After that hour-and-14-minute delay, left-hander Dan Jennings fired a pair of scoreless innings, striking out three — including a whiff of Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded in the top of the third.
Right-hander Tommy Kahnle allowed a solo home run to Justin Upton in the top of the sixth, which was the only damage he allowed in his two innings of work. Left-hander Zach Duke then tagged in and fired a scoreless seventh.
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Right-hander Nate Jones took the eighth but couldn’t hold the lead. His bobbling of a comebacker allowed Cameron Maybin to reach to lead off the inning, and the red-hot Tigers center fielder stole second before coming around to score on Nick Castellanos’ RBI single.
With heavy storms approaching, David Robertson relieved Jones and struck out pinch-hitter Tyler Collins to end the top of the eighth.
Avisail Garcia’s RBI sacrifice fly in the second and solo home run — his sixth of the season and first since May 28 — in the fourth helped pace the White Sox offense. Dioner Navarro chipped in with an RBI double in the second as well.
The White Sox only managed a two-out walk from Todd Frazier in the bottom of the eighth before the tarp was rolled out for the third and final time.
MILWAUKEE – Cubs fans took over Miller Park again on Saturday night, booing Ryan Braun when he stepped into the batter’s box, wearing Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant and Darwin Barney jerseys and chanting “Let’s go, Cubbies!” over and over again.
Big Boy Game? Eh, not so much for John Lackey, the two-time World Series champion the Cubs imported to anchor their playoff rotation and give the clubhouse some much-needed edge. Not when it’s late July and the Milwaukee Brewers are near the ground floor of a full-scale rebuild.
But the Brewers haven’t sold off All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy yet, and Lackey still looked annoyed some three hours after a game-changing play in the first inning.
“You guys can decide” if that was a double-play ball, Lackey told the reporters at his locker after a 6-1 loss. “This is the big leagues.”
Lackey threw up his arms in frustration after Braun hit a groundball toward second baseman Javier Baez, who flipped the ball to shortstop Addison Russell for the second out. Lucroy, the next batter, hammered Lackey’s 93-mph fastball off a second-deck advertisement in left-center field for a two-run homer.
Baez (age 23) and Russell (age 22) have the potential to become Gold Glove winners, already transforming this team’s defensive profile. Lackey has a reputation for being ornery on the mound and with the media. This isn’t the first time Lackey (7-7, 3.79 ERA) has alluded to tightening things up, and it probably won’t be the last.
Even though you could wonder about the offense, the rush from Dexter Fowler’s return to the top of the lineup wearing off quickly as rookie right-hander Zach Davies limited the Cubs to only one run across 6.1 innings, drawing comparisons to Kyle Hendricks from manager Joe Maddon.
And Cubs fans started heading toward the exits in the eighth inning after Mike Montgomery – the high-upside lefty Theo Epstein’s front office acquired in advance of the Aug. 1 trade deadline – gave up a three-run homer to Kirk Nieuwenhuis that made it a beat-the-traffic game.
Nieuwenhuis (.195 average entering Saturday) had led off the fourth inning by homering off Lackey, who put together his first quality start since June 30 but still hasn’t earned a win since June 8.
“They just purely beat us,” Maddon said. “Give them credit.”
The Cubs (58-38) say they aren’t scoreboard watching now, even though the St. Louis Cardinals (52-45) have closed to within 6.5 games in a division race that looks much tighter now.
“No, you can’t,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “They’re playing well. They’re a good team. They know how to win. That’s what they have done for a long time. It’s not going to be a cakewalk. But that’s the way baseball is. We know that. Everyone knows that.”
Sean Johnson had made a number of big saves late in Saturday’s match at New England, but one mistake was costly.
Johnson had three saves on well-struck shots in a span of less than two minutes. On a third corner kick during that period of sustained pressure, New England finally got one past the Chicago Fire goalkeeper.
Je-Vaughn Watson headed in a Chris Tierney corner kick in the 85th minute after Johnson came out to punch away the corner and failed to reach it. Johnson totaled 10 saves, but ultimately played a role in New England’s lone goal.
The 1-0 win for New England (6-7-8, 26 points) is a blow to the Fire’s already dwindling playoff hopes. The Revolution, which currently sit in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, are now nine points ahead of the Fire (4-10-5, 17 points), which remain in last place in the league.
The Fire’s league-record road winless streak trudges on, now at 35, and the team has now lost eight straight away from Toyota Park.
While Johnson was busy making 10 saves, the Fire didn’t register a shot on target. For periods of the second half the Fire had the better of the play and created some chances, but the Revolution’s finishing kick ended up being the difference.
The Fire’s best chance came in the 57th minute when David Accam’s low cross from the left almost resulted in an own goal. Bobby Shuttleworth was able to save the deflection, his only notable action of the night, and then John Goossens missed the bouncing ball on the rebound.
On the CSN+ broadcast, coach Veljko Paunovic was asked early in the second half about any possible tactical changes he might make and Paunovic said he liked how things were going. He backed that up by not making any subs until the 76th minute and only used two in the match.
Paunovic gave a slightly different look defensively with Johan Kappelhof, who has been a staple at centerback, starting at right back. Joao Meira took his place in central defense. Offensively, Michael de Leeuw, David Accam, Kennedy Igboananike and John Goossens started together for the first time.
The Fire return home for a Sunday match against the New York Red Bulls.