If Tuesday night served as a glimpse of what the post-deadline, rebuilding in earnest White Sox will look like, the flair for disaster will remain, but there will be plenty worth watching. Also, they probably will keep losing.
Brazilian-born Andre Rienzo made his major league debut–and the major league debut for Brazilian-bred pitching as a whole–and the innings where he looked like the next promising White Sox starter outnumbered the innings where he was sucked into the vortex of 2013 White Sox misery six-to-one.
Unless of course, you count the Stalingrad blockade version of Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain–Donnie Veal and Matt Lindstrom–yielding the White Sox’ tightly-held 4-3 lead with a barrage of singles during a four-run Indians eighth part of Rienzo getting sucked into the 2013 White Sox vortex of misery. A 7-4 defeat dropped the White Sox to 24 games below .500 for the first time in 24 years, cost Rienzo a shot at career win No. 1, but at least it didn’t offer any new, horrifying revelations.
Rienzo, starting because Jake Peavy was on trade-at-any-moment status, toed the waters hesitantly early on, relying mostly on his cutter and dodging some hard contact through the first three innings. Then, he started getting a little confident. He dropped in some beautiful overhand curveballs to start Nick Swisher 0-2, then revved up to 93 mph to get his first major league strikeout. Buoyed, he set up Jason Kipinis and Asdrubal Cabrera with a few more yellowhammers, before finishing them off with high and hard stuff to strike out the side for the first time in his carer. As Rienzo departed the mound with a strut, any sober mind realized they were experiencing the highlight of the evening.
Since he was accumulating all the happy major league firsts in the world and was staked to a 3-0 lead thanks to a two-run first inning double from Adam Dunn and a RBI single from Josh Phegley off Indians starter Scott Kazmir, the fifth inning came to exact misery on Rienzo. His first bout with control issues put the leadoff runner on and was swiftly followed by an Alexei Ramirez error provoked by an umpire screening him. After striking out Jason Giambi and allowing a single to Lonnie Chisenhall, he walked his fellow countrymen Yan Gomes on four pitches to put the Indians on the board for the first time.
After misery came pain. Rienzo induced a possible double play ball from Michael Bourn–as close as one can come, given it’s Michael Bourn–but not only was the throw too late, but he got stepped on covering first by Bourn in a play that momentarily resembled the gruesome Tim Hudson injury. Two runs scored to tie the game at 3 while Rienzo writhed around on the ground, but he recovered to finish the inning, and two more along with it.
Seven innings with three runs, none earned, along with five hits, six strikeouts and three walks is not bad at all for the first time out against an above-average offense. A two-out RBI single that Dayan Viciedo lined off the glove of Jason Kipnis in the sixth inning momentarily looked like it would make him a winner, but who could ask for more from the 25 year-old? Or from this otherwise miserable team?
Again, for emphasis the eighth inning was a pitching trainwreck from mid-level bullpen arms. Probably the actual story of the game, but whatever.
Team Record: 40-64
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