As Wade LeBlanc exited the mound in the eighth inning on Friday night, he received a standing ovation from an extremely appreciative Seattle crowd.
To be completely honest, I was inclined to join them, albeit from my North Shore basement instead of the ballpark.
LeBlanc produced one of the best pitching performances that the White Sox have seen this year, and when you’re 33-63, you will have seen many of them. He left the ballgame after only 84 pitches through seven and a third innings and allowed a mere four hits, only two of which came after the first frame.
The journeyman left hander, who has experienced a career renaissance with the Mariners in 2018 at age 33, stifled White Sox hitters left and right, utilizing a deadly straight change and mixing in a high fastball that made for ample swings and misses. He compensated extremely well for lacking an overpowering fastball by using deception and efficiently throwing his off-speed stuff, which in turn can make his high “heat” look like it has a little more life to it.
LeBlanc sent 10 White Sox back to the bench via strikeout, which was a season high for the ten year veteran.
Leury Garcia, Daniel Palka, Omar Narvaez, and Yolmer Sanchez were the only South Siders to hit safely against LeBlanc, while Yoan Moncada drew a base on balls as well. Garcia and Palka each doubled in the first inning, giving Chicago their only run of tonight’s contest.
After LeBlanc left, Alex Colome took over and, although he ran into a little trouble in the eighth, shut the door and led the way for Edwin Diaz to close out the game, continuing Seattle’s dominance when leading after eight innings thanks in most part to the All-Star reliever.
James Shields, the starter this evening for the White Sox, piled onto his recent string of solid outings with another gem, going seven strong innings and letting two runs (only one earned) cross the plate. He built on his reputation as a valuable innings eater, which could attract bidders at the trade deadline, which is quickly approaching.
For example, if you’re the crosstown rival Chicago Cubs, a team with a taxed bullpen because their starters have struggled to go deep into games, Shields is looking extremely appetizing right now.
Follow Jack Soble on Twitter–Feature Photo Credit:Ted S. Warren / AP