But Mercedes and Mendick got to pitch
Yeah, yeah, lots of stuff happened beforehand, but let us quickly progress to the bottom of the seventh inning, when Yermín Mercedes took to the mound for the White Sox, who were down 10-4 at the time. The Yerminator gave up a dreaded leadoff walk, which got erased when a 107.7 mph shot by Bobby Dalbec went right to Tim Anderson and ended up a double play, thanks to some bad baserunning. Alas, that was not the end of the inning, and three hits later Mercedes’ perfect career ERA turned to 9.00.
Mercedes, who must now officially be a pitcher since he’s played no other defensive position in the majors, was tossing in the 70s and even broke 80 once or twice. Not so Danny Mendick, who took over in the eighth and tossed more softly than many a 16-inch slow-pitch hurler. Apparently the problem was that Mercedes didn’t throw slowly enough, because after the world’s least painful HBP and a single, Mendick not only completed a scoreless inning but used a 61-mph burner to strike out Franchy Cordero, who won’t live that down for at least a decade.
The M&Ms, as they will no doubt become known and feared, were presumably in because Tony La Russa had given up on the game and was saving what bullpen he had available after Sunday’s doubleheader for what may be a bullpen day Wednesday with Lance Lynn on the IL. And, in fairness, the M&Ms were the highlight of the afternoon for our side.
The game started out well enough for the Right Sox, with a Tim Anderson infield single and a first-pitch swing by Luis Robert.
Luis Robert gets us on the board quickly. ✅ pic.twitter.com/Zc4Z0H20ce— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 19, 2021
That was swell until Lucas Giolito proved dramatically that he’s not a morning person. Giolito, who hadn’t allowed so much as a first inning hit this season, gave up a homer to Kiké Hernández off the top of the Green Monster to tie the game, and then five straight singles. Before the first was over, the Bad Sox has six runs and Giolito had thrown 46 pitches.
Lucas came out for the second, but after a homer and a walk, his day was over at 54 pitches. Control wasn’t the problem, since 39 of the pitches were strikes and he got first-pitch strikes on all but two batters. But command was lacking, and, mostly, the Red Sox had studied his changeup extremely well. They laid off the good ones and clobbered the ones that got too much of the plate. Better hope they don’t pass the secret along.
That brought in Zack Burdi, fresh in from Schaumburg to take Lynn’s roster spot and anxious to show he shouldn’t be subject to more suburban time. Burdi let his inherited runner score, but otherwise gave up only a solo HR over three innings and 49 pitches, which was 19 more than he’d ever tossed in the majors.
Were Burdi’s showing strong enough to keep him on the 26-man when Lynn returns, one of the relievers definitely on the bubble would be José Ruiz. Ruiz fended off the competition with a line of two innings, one hit, one walk and four Ks, and he’s out of options, so maybe another reliever should be nervously awaiting The Turk. Good thing for Mercedes and Mendick they have day jobs.
Offensively, the Sox scored in the first four odd-numbered innings, two of those runs on RBI doubles by Adam Eaton, though the second was a fly that Cordero just let drop for some reason. Maybe he wanted the game to be more competitive. Anderson had three hits, and Mercedes had a single to keep his average better than .400.
On the negative side, José Abreu went 0-for-4 with 3 Ks and blew a grounder that was somehow called a hit. Jake Lamb got his average back down under .100 — .077, if you’re keeping track — and had a bad fielding decision or two. Not that any of the defensive lapses mattered.
Baseball gets back to a reasonable hour tomorrow, as the Sox travel to Cleveland and a rematch of Carlos Rodón and Zach Plesac, which you may remember for the six runs the Sox scored in the first inning and the no runs ... or hits ... or walks ... Rodón surrendered.
Game time tomorrow is 5:10 Central. And, thankfully, that’s PM, not AM. Yours truly doubles up with the recap coverage, while Janice Scurio makes her Six Pack debut.