From the first pitch to his last, Wednesday’s game was all drama for Lance Lynn.
Despite allowing just one run through four innings in the White Sox’ 3-2 victory over the Athletics, it was one of Lynn’s shakier starts of the season. It took him 31 pitches to get through a first inning in which he retired three batters in a row, two on strikeouts, to strand runners on second and third.
Lynn surrendered a lead-off double in the third, and the A’s packed the pads on an error on Tim Anderson and a walk to Oakland’s All-Star first baseman Matt Olson. But here’s the thing about Cy Young candidates – even when they’re off, they’re on. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Lynn struck out the next two batters and forced a pop up to end the inning. For whatever it’s worth, it was a top-five moment of his All-Star season so far.
Lynn allowed his only run of the game, a solo home run, in the fourth on a four-seamer that hung a little too high and a little too wide for A’s lefty Seth Brown. Two groundouts later, the inning was over.
Lynn was already in the dugout when the umpire asked to see his belt for a routine foreign substance check. He tossed the belt over the rail toward the umpire and was immediately ejected. La Russa tried to argue on Lynn’s behalf, but to no avail.
“Obviously, I hurt his feelings," Lynn said. "He threw me out because I tossed my belt, and I said, 'Well, if you were on time [to the dugout for inspection], we wouldn't have this problem.'”
Side note: Everyone in this situation is cranky.
Eventually, belt-gate subsided, and the rest of the game was played – and very well by the White Sox, I might add.
The White Sox already had a 1-0 lead after a double from Eloy Jiménez scored César Hernández in the first inning. Luis Robert, who literally won’t stop getting hits, put another run on the board in the fourth inning with a single to score Moncada from second. That same sequence occurred again in the sixth, and Robert would finish the game with three hits and two RBI.
The bullpen flashed its muscles for the third straight game, finally giving White Sox fans a fair sample of its promised lethality. Garrett Crochet, Ryan Tepera, Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks combined for four hits, one run – because Robert slipped and fell on a routine fly ball to cause a triple that would score on sacrifice fly – and two walks. Oh, and Hendriks struck out three straight batters in the ninth to shut the door.
It was an all-around performance from the White Sox, who thankfully didn’t need their most reliable starter to throw more than four-innings. But had they, and had Lynn looked a little cleaner, the belt-tossing incident would be a much heftier topic.
It’s unclear why Major League Baseball would want to compromise the competitiveness of its games with petty behavioral standards that would result in an ejection of a Cy Young Award candidate, one who just pitched in one of the most significant and highly-rated regular-season games in MLB history.
But after a series-winning game over the 68-53 Oakland A’s, that sounds like an MLB problem.