White Sox can't cash in late against Halos

Keuchel rebounds from rough stretch for first quality start since August

September 16th, 2021

CHICAGO -- The White Sox hit a milestone in their 3-2 loss to the Angels on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

But it had nothing to do with clinching the American League Central, as their magic number stayed at seven with Cleveland’s blowout win in Minnesota. The White Sox also dropped two games behind the Astros for the No. 2 seed in the AL, crucial as that brings home-field advantage in the first round.

Garrett Crochet struck out Shohei Ohtani, the frontrunner for the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player Award, to end the top of the ninth and mark the 90,000th strikeout in White Sox history. The ninth-inning heroics, however, pretty much ended there.

There were chances for the White Sox to score in both the eighth and ninth innings, but they couldn't come through as 11 strikeouts on offense left them a little bit short.

“You have to give the other side credit,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “They pitched well.”

Eloy Jiménez, who is just 11-for-59 in his last 16 games, opened the ninth with a first-pitch double off Angels closer Raisel Iglesias.

“We all know the kind of hitter he is. It’s just a matter of time,” said La Russa of Jiménez. “I think the bigger the moment, the closer he is to being himself. We saw that tonight.”

Billy Hamilton then came in to pinch-run for Jiménez, but he could not advance to third as Gavin Sheets struck out. Still, the White Sox had a golden opportunity to tie or win the game as a Leury García infield single put runners on first and third with one out. But Iglesias managed to recover and got Brian Goodwin to punch out swinging and César Hernández to fly out deep to left to end the game.

La Russa explained his ninth-inning strategy:

“You had Sheets at the plate, who is a good contact guy. Just put it in play and Billy can get to third,” La Russa said. “We had a guy at third twice and they stopped us with less than two outs. And Billy is always looking to steal, but Iglesias is very quick to the plate. It just wasn’t there.”

In the eighth, Steve Cishek, who pitched for the White Sox in 2020, struck out José Abreu and Yasmani Grandal to strand two runners on first and second. This after Grandal had tied the game at 2 in the sixth with a single. It was Grandal’s 500th career RBI and extended his on-base streak to 30 straight games.

turned in a quality start, his ninth this season and his first since Aug. 5 against Kansas City, and earned a no-decision, but he didn’t have a great deal to say about it postgame. The left-hander allowed two runs on six hits, striking out three and walking five.

Entering Wednesday’s start, Keuchel had allowed 21 earned runs on 31 hits in 14 2/3 innings over his last four starts. He felt as good as he did in his last start in Oakland, where he allowed five runs -- though the A’s skewed his line with two runs in the sixth.

“I've been feeling good,” said Keuchel, when asked how he thought his start went on Wednesday. “Outside of a couple of at-bats, I feel like I made the pitches I wanted to. I had five walks, but any one of those outside of one were pretty close. So just the way it goes.”

Keuchel will need to build off his last two starts to push for a spot on the Division Series roster, let alone the rotation. When asked what he needed to do to continue this climb, the veteran let out a frustrated laugh and responded with, “Good luck.”

“I mean, I really got nothing else for you guys,” Keuchel said.

“Overall, tonight was one of the better starts I’ve had,” added Keuchel, who recorded 10 ground-ball outs, including a double-play grounder to get out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth. “I’d like to keep with that, but I felt good last time out, too. So ... just the way things go.”

Yoán Moncada homered in the fourth inning, extending his on-base streak to 25 straight games, but it was Brandon Marsh who gave the Angels the lead with an opposite-field home run off Michael Kopech in the eighth. Kopech had retired the previous five hitters he faced, three via strikeout, before Marsh connected on his 101 mph 3-2 fastball.