The Chicago White Sox lost to the crosstown-rival Chicago Cubs on a walk-off home run Wednesday and this loss stings.
One might think that the loss hurts extra because of the Cubs-Sox rivalry. And it does, a little.
In part because of the heightened emotions brought about by the crosstown classic. It’s also because if the Chicago White Sox had won, a split of the season series with a sweep of the two games at Wrigley Field would be a nice ray of light in a season full of darkness.
It also hurts a little to see the Cubs celebrate in such a fashion because the Cubs were supposed to be a year away from contending while the Sox were supposed to be a playoff team.
The Chicago Cubs defeated the Chicago White Sox in heartbreaking fashion.
It’s hard for frustrated Sox fans, upset at their own team, to look across town and see the Cubs doing things the way things should be done.
That said, it’s not really about losing to the Cubs. The teams play 4-6 times a year and it’s inevitable that the Sox will lose some games to their intercity foes.
They’ll even get walked off or lose in otherwise heartbreaking fashion, even when they’re a good team or playing well. It’s baseball, these kinds of things happen.
What’s frustrating is that it was the latest in a long line of inexplicable heart-breaking collapses that dates back to the 2022 season.
It was a loss like this to the Minnesota Twins that initiated the trade deadline selloff. It was losses like this that led to an 8-21 start to the season. Losses like two of the three against the Milwaukee Brewers the weekend before the Cubs series.
Blown leads and a failure to add insurance runs are never a recipe for success and that has shown this season.
In this game, the Sox could’ve put the Cubs away in the top of the eighth inning but three of their best hitters struck out against Michael Fulmer with the bases loaded and nobody out.
Fulmer’s stuff was filthy but the at-bats were also terrible. Luis Robert Jr. appeared to swing a ball outside the zone after it already passed him and Yoan Moncada took a called strike three on what appeared to be a hanging pitch.
All Moncada really needed to do was put the ball in play and the Sox likely add an insurance run. Another chance at an insurance run was blown earlier in the game when Robert was doubled up off third base when he wandered too far on a lineout to the infield.
There will also be arguments about whether the Sox manager should’ve pitched aspiring closer Gregory Santos on back-to-back nights.
He only threw 16 pitches Tuesday and a closer has to learn how to pitch in back-to-back high-leverage situations but Tuesday’s game required him to get five outs and was high pressure.
Regardless, he didn’t have his stuff on Wednesday, giving up a double (that arguably should’ve been caught) to Cody Bellinger, walking Dansby Swanson, and then missing his spot badly on the 0-2 pitch that Christopher Morel hammered over the wall.
On the other hand, the Sox’s bullpen is depleted after the trade deadline deals that sent Joe Kelly and Kendall Graveman away and veteran closer Liam Hendriks is on the shelf after Tommy John surgery.
Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal said a couple of weeks ago that the Sox would have a great record if games were only 7 innings long and while the statement sounds ridiculous if taken literally, his broader point makes sense.
The team fails to hold leads. Sometimes it’s a bullpen arm melting down, sometimes it’s poor defense, and sometimes it’s a failure by the offense to add more runs when given the chance.
Sox fans are sick of it. It adds a little extra insult to lose like this to the Cubs, especially if a win would’ve been a silver lining in a bad year but this loss would hurt almost as much if it came at the hands of the Colorado Rockies, who the Sox play in Denver this weekend or the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The truth is, Sox fans have seen too many losses like this in too short a time frame — all from a team that was, at least until August 1, 2023, meant to compete. We’re angry and we want to see change in the offseason.
Whether that change is new players, improvement from current players, a new manager or coaching staff, improvement from the current staff, a change in the front office, or something else, we will not accept this anymore.
Not from a team that’s expected to win. If it’s young players finding their way during a second rebuild, fine. But talented veterans have no excuse.
If the Sox tear it all down and start all over, we’ll once again be patient, though we won’t be happy about it. But if the Sox say they intend to contend in 2024 and these trends continue, it will be unacceptable.
White Sox fans deserve competent baseball the next time the team is in a position to contend. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.