This two-game series vs the Cubs heading into the All-Star break marks the end of NBC Sports Chicago’s simulation of the 2020 White Sox season.
Result: White Sox def. Cubs 10-8
Record: 55-37 this season, 1st in A.L. Central (3.5 games ahead of Twins)
W: Dylan Cease (5-4)
L: Jose Quintana (9-5)
SV: Alex Colome (19)
Game summary: The series everyone has been waiting for: Cubs-White Sox, with the added bonus of a matchup between Dylan Cease and Jose Quintana, who switched teams in a trade also involving Eloy Jimenez just under three years ago. Who would come out ahead in this one?
If you guessed Cease, you are correct. The White Sox made Quintana’s latest return to the South Side a living nightmare. Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 13 games with an RBI single in the first. Nomar Mazara and Edwin Encarnacion went back-to-back in the second, respectively hitting a two-run homer and solo shot to give the White Sox a 4-0 lead. The third didn’t alleviate the onslaught whatsoever. Lus Robert hit a two-run blast that bounced Quintana from the game before he could complete three innings.
Meanwhile, Cease largely cruised through his outing, overpowering Cubs hitters with a 95+ mph fastball and mixing in a devastating changeup. Cease’s eight strikeouts stood out a lot more than the two solo homers he gave up to Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber in his 5 2/3 innings of work.
The White Sox would need all the insurance they could get because the Cubs went down swinging. Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant each went deep in the late innings, driving in five runs and putting a jubilant White Sox home crowd on edge. Fortunately for the South Siders, Abreu and Encarnacion kept the Cubs at bay with long balls of their own to secure the win in the first of two against their crosstown rivals.
White Sox lineup:
Edwin Encarnacion: 2-5, 2 HR (3), 4 RBI, 2 R (.327 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 3-4, R (.261 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 0-3, 2 BB (.275 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 0-5 (.301 BA)
Jose Abreu: 2-3, HR (27), 2 RBI, 2 R (.321 BA)
Tim Anderson: 0-4 (.269 BA)
Luis Robert: 1-4, HR (5), 2 RBI, R (.255 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 2-3, 2 2B, 2 R (.286 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 2-4, HR (18), 2 RBI, 2 R (.257 BA)
Jose Abreu singled to center field, Eloy Jimenez scored. 1-0 CHW.
Nomar Mazara homered to right field, Nick Madrigal scored. 3-0 CHW.
Edwin Encarnacion homered to center field. 4-0 CHW.
Luis Robert homered to right field, Abreu scored. 6-0 CHW.
Kris Bryant homered to left field. 6-1 CHW.
Kyle Schwarber homered to right field. 6-2 CHW.
Abreu homered to center field. 7-2 CHW.
Schwarber homered to right field, Javier Baez and Bryant scored. 7-5 CHW.
Encarnacion homered to left field Madrigal and Mazara scored. 10- 5 CHW.
Jason Heyward doubled to left field, David Bote scored. 10-6 CHW.
Bryant homered to center field, Jason Heyward scored. 10-8 CHW.
Notable performance: Edwin Encarnacion gets back-to-back showings in this section of the recap. That’s what happens when you record four RBIs for the second straight game. Encarnacion is also rising up the home run and RBI leaderboards. He’s now tied for second in homers (33) and is seventh in RBIs (71) in the American League.
Next game: Game 93: Cubs vs. White Sox (Jon Lester vs. Lucas Giolito)
The White Sox played the White Sox Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field and the White Sox won 2-0.
Yes, the intrasquad portion of this wacky 2020 baseball season is upon us.
It would be foolish to put too much stock in one scrimmage, but considering the White Sox are just two weeks away from their first regular season game, these intrasquad games do hold some value, especially in determining the readiness of individual players who have been scattered all over the country for months trying to stay prepared for some sort of baseball season.
“Guys are getting their work done under tough circumstances,” White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing said. “I think they are understanding that it’s a sprint. It’s a sprint to Opening Day, it’s a sprint to the season.”
Making matters worse, manager Rick Renteria missed Thursday’s activities because he had to return to California for a family funeral. Renteria is not expected to be gone long, but he will have to clear MLB's COVID-19 protocol upon his return. With testing results taking a day or two to come back, Renteria could miss a few days.
In the meantime, McEwing led the team Thursday. I’ll spare you the play-by-play, but here are some notable events from the game:
- I don’t know the exact number of Luis Robert at-bats I’ve seen in person, but it’s probably only around 15 to 20. That’s an incredibly small sample size, but in each game I’ve seen him play – going back to spring training in 2018 -- Robert always hits the ball hard. Thursday was no different as he just missed a home run to right-center in the first inning and then hammered a ball off Steve Cishek in the third inning. That ball looked destined for left field, but third baseman Yermín Mercedes made a really nice snag to record the out.
Robert robbed by Mercedes to end the inning. 👀 pic.twitter.com/NlvIcWGq9R— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) July 9, 2020
It will be interesting to see how quickly Robert adapts to Major League pitching once the games start because he certainly looks good in camp. My personal expectations continue to be sky high.
Will be the best all-around player on a good team by 2021, if not sooner. https://t.co/rWZk2uuo6k— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) July 9, 2020
- It’s no secret that Eloy Jiménez needs to improve as a left fielder, but he sure looked comfortable going back on a line drive hit by Luis Basabe Thursday. Off the bat, it looked like the ball would easily fly over Jiménez’s head, but he tracked it well and made the catch over his left shoulder.
“Outstanding play on a ball to his left, going left into the gap off the bat of Basabe,” McEwing said. “Hard hit ball.”
- Tim Anderson looked smooth fielding a ball up the middle, but McEwing’s comments about his defense were even more interesting. Anderson spent the hiatus doing exercises to open up his hips in an effort to be able to bend more.
“They did specific exercises to open up his hips to put his body in a better position,” McEwing said. “And you can see it going to his backhand, like today, going up the middle, he was low the whole time. And in. Being able to throw from different angles while carrying something on it with his legs still underneath him. He looks amazing.”
McEwing has worked closely with Anderson on his defense for years, and while Anderson won the American League batting title last season, they’d both like to see his defense take off in 2020.
“He’s grown into a man – not just on the field, but off the field,” McEwing said. “I couldn’t be prouder of him. It’s like, OK, you can leave the nest now. You’re on your own.”
- There wasn’t a whole lot of offense in Thursday’s scrimmage, but Edwin Encarnación finally delivered in the fourth inning with a solo home run to center field off of Aaron Bummer. Encarnación continues to be praised by coaches and teammates and figures to be a big piece of the puzzle during this 60-game sprint.
- One odd site to see Thursday? A Nick Madrigal strikeout. Granted, it was looking, and I believe balls/strikes were being called by the catcher. Madrigal only struck out 16 times in 532 plate appearances across High-A, Double-A and Triple-A last season.
- Drew Anderson, a non-roster invitee, pitched two perfect innings and was the one who punched out Madrigal to start the game. In fact, he struck out three of the six batters he faced, including James McCann and Andrew Vaughn. Anderson is a former 21st round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies and only made nine major league appearances over the last three seasons before getting an opportunity with the White Sox.
Stay tuned, as the White Sox are also scheduled to play intrasquad games on Friday and Saturday.