After a weekend without White Sox baseball due to the snow that blanketed the Twin Cities — and the architectural blunder that is a baseball stadium without a roof, located 264 miles south of the Canadian border — the Sox were rain and snow free in Oakland on Monday night.
Unfortunately, the White Sox bats looked to be stuck in snow-day mode in the first of three with the Athletics at the Coliseum.
Daniel Mengden, who entered Monday night’s game sporting an 0-10 record and a 6.45 ERA in his career at the Coliseum, looked un-hittable for much of the night. Mengden surrendered five base hits to the White Sox in eight innings of shutout baseball, striking out six and walking just one.
After opening the game by lacing a first pitch fastball from Mengden into right field for a hard single, Yoan Moncada was stranded at third base when Nicky Delmonico popped up to Johnathan Lucroy around home plate to end the inning.
Moncada became a part of an ugly statistic that has crippled the White Sox as of late after being stranded 90 feet from home plate in the opening frame — the Sox are just 3 for 52 with runners in scoring position.
The offense was sleep walking through the motions, the bullpen was as bad as to be expected on most nights, and the defense was particularly ugly in this one, but there was a huge plus for the Sox in the 8-1 loss to Oakland in the form of Reynaldo Lopez.
A 92 MPH four-seamer over the heart of the plate, and a slider in the same location, were the lone mistakes for Reynaldo Lopez, who tossed six innings of two-run baseball on Monday night in Oakland.
Lopez worked around a first inning double by leadoff hitter Matt Joyce, a ball that should have been limited to a single if not for a bad route by center-fielder Adam Engel. Lopez would strike out Jed Lowrie on a changeup below the strike zone, and Matt Olson on three consecutive off-speed pitches — two breaking balls low, followed by another punch out with a changeup at the bottom of the strike zone.
Lopez would log his third strikeout of the game in the bottom of the third inning, ringing up Matt Joyce on the changeup low in the zone once again. His first three strikeouts of the ballgame were of the swing and miss variety on a changeup low.
Lopez’s other seven strikeouts came via his four-seamer and his slider, with the slider inducing two backwards K’s, and the four-seamer accounting for four swing and miss strikeouts and one looking strikeout.
In the fourth inning, Lopez left a fastball over the middle of the plate, and A’s first-baseman Matt Olson promptly hit it over the right-center field wall to put the A’s on the board, 1-0. The location was a mistake, and the pitch should have never been thrown in the first place. Olson came into the game struggling to hit any semblance of a breaking ball, and Lopez had already confirmed that in the first inning when he rang Olson up on a trio of off-speed pitches with ease.
Lopez’s second mistake came in the fifth inning when he missed his spot with a slider, leaving it middle-low for Kris Davis, who can absolutely mash. Mash he did, as he scorched one into centerfield for an RBI double.
After the Davis RBI double, Lopez finished his night with four consecutive strikeouts, giving him 10 over six innings of work.
In his best start of his young career, Lopez allowed a pair of runs on four hits over six innings of work while striking out 10. Four walks in the box score were a blemish on what was an otherwise simply gorgeous performance, but those will reduce over time.
A victim of a lack of run support, Lopez falls to 0-2 on the season, but his ERA sits at 1.42 with 21 strikeouts through 19 innings of work in 2018. In a night of ugly, Reynaldo Lopez gave the White Sox what they needed from him, continued development.
The White Sox will be back in action tomorrow night in the bay when they send Miguel Gonzalez (0-2, 8.68 ERA) to the hill looking to even the series at one-a-piece, at 9:05 PM (CT). The ballgame will be on WGN on both TV and Radio tomorrow night.
Feature Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images