Cubs zero in on last; White Sox walk their way out of first | Bleader

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cubs zero in on last; White Sox walk their way out of first

Posted By on 04.17.14 at 12:32 PM

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The Cubs couldnt get their bats to cooperate yesterday in Yankee Stadium. Ryan Kalish disposes of his after fanning in the fifth inning of game two.
  • AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
  • The Cubs couldn't get their bats to cooperate yesterday in Yankee Stadium. Ryan Kalish disposes of his after fanning in the fifth inning of game two.
​The Cubs played a doubleheader in Yankee Stadium yesterday, all for naught. ​Eighteen naughts. ​Managers often ask their lineups to put up a crooked number in an inning, meaning more than ​a single run; the north​-siders instead produced a long string of round ones.

​​Although they dropped ​​​the o​pener​, 3-0​, the Cubs managed to get three runners to second base. They were facing Masahiro ​​Tanaka, the Japanese pitcher they tried to sign this winter who inexplicably chose the Yanks. Tanaka allowed two bunt singles in eight innings, fanned ten, and walked one.

After the intermission, the unbearable lightness of the Cubs' hitting resumed in game two. The north-siders challenged the Bronx Bombers with a lineup featuring Ryan Sweeney (.192), Luis Valbuena (.185), Ryan Kalish (.143), and Darwin Barney (.136). The team had three big innings, meaning someone made it all the way to third. Final: 2-0.

The losses dropped the Cubs into sole possession of the cellar in the National League Central.

​Meantime on the south side, White Sox pitchers, like the Cubs' offense, couldn't find the plate. In a game that went 14 innings, they surrendered only six hits to the Red Sox—but they walked 15.

White Sox infielder Leury Garcia was called on to pitch the 14th yesterday. Like other Sox pitchers, he found it hard to throw strikes.
  • AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
  • White Sox infielder Leury Garcia was called on to pitch the 14th yesterday. Like other Sox pitchers, he found it hard to throw strikes.

Detroit lost to Cleveland while the White Sox were playing, moving the south-siders into first place by a half game. It looked like the Sox would expand that to a full game after Alexei Ramirez's two-run homer in the seventh put them up 3-1. The homer stretched Ramirez's season-opening hitting streak to 15, tying the record set by Frank Thomas in 1996.

In the eighth and ninth, Sox relievers gave up only one hit, on a swinging bunt. But they also walked six, allowing the BoSox to catch up.

The south-siders were out of relievers by the 14th, and with no one ready in the Bullpen Sports Bar, manager Robin Ventura called on Leury Garcia, an infielder. Garcia retired the first two hitters with a fine sinker, but apparently he'd been watching his pitching teammates, and he walked the next two. They both scored on a double. Five hours and 17 minutes and 503 pitches after John Danks threw the opening pitch, the White Sox shuffled off the field with a 6-4 loss that nudged them back to second, percentage points behind the Tigers.

The teams meet again tonight at the Cell, where Chris Sale, 3-0, will try to go the distance, knowing what will happen if he doesn't. White Sox relievers are weary, but Red Sox hitters should be tired too after walking for more than five hours. The Cubs have a day to rest up and plot how to nick the plate against Cincinnati Friday at Wrigley.

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