No CG, no worries as Fedde's gem caps White Sox sweep

Righty pitches career-high 8 1/3 innings as Chicago finishes first series sweep since last June

April 28th, 2024

CHICAGO -- had never worked into the eighth inning of a Major League start, let alone the ninth, until a 4-2 victory for the White Sox over the Rays on Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.

At 100 pitches and with a three-run lead to work with thanks to Andrew Benintendi’s two-run single in the eighth, Fedde had his focus squarely on that first complete game. And so did White Sox manager Pedro Grifol.

“I wanted him to have the complete game,” Grifol said. “We needed him to have a complete game.”

“Wish I could have finished it off,” a smiling Fedde added. “But I’ll take it.”

Fedde settled for a career-high 8 1/3 innings, allowing Isaac Paredes’ single and Harold Ramírez’s run-scoring double after recording the first out in the ninth. Rookie Jordan Leasure, a native of Brandon, Fla., near Tampa, who grew up a fan of the Rays and attended their games at Tropicana Field, recorded the final two outs for his first career save.

Their mound combination produced Chicago’s first three-game sweep since June 2-4, 2023, against the Tigers and its first three-game winning streak since Aug. 5-7. The White Sox (6-22) also have won four straight at home after starting 1-9.

“It’s only three games, but winning does solve a lot of problems,” said White Sox outfielder Tommy Pham, who finished 1-for-4 as the team improved to 3-0 with him in the lineup. “It brings joy in the clubhouse, and the atmosphere just changes. Everybody gets that burden off their shoulders and wants to show up the next day and compete again.”

In his last start against the Twins at Target Field on Tuesday, Fedde recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts over six innings. While he didn’t top that total, the right-hander struck out nine without a walk over 108 pitches (72 strikes).

Fedde’s ERA sits at 2.60 for the season, completing a strong first month of action in a return to the Majors. Fedde struggled mightily during his initial MLB run with the Nationals from 2017-22, but he reinvented his mound mindset and pitching repertoire through a dominant showing for the NC Dinos of the KBO in ‘23 with a 20-6 record, 2.00 ERA and 209 strikeouts against 35 walks in 180 1/3 innings.

Would that new approach play in a return to the Majors, after Fedde agreed to a two-year, $15 million deal as a free agent? As of April 28, that answer is a resounding “yes.”

“There's always thoughts in the back of your head of, 'Is it still going to play here? Is it still going to work out?'” Fedde said. “But I think it's just proof of such a different player I am now.

“Looking back a couple of years ago, if you told me I was striking out close to double digits and going deep in games, I would probably chuckle a little. It's what I've dreamed to do, it's what I wanted to do and now it's just, keep going."

Robbie Grossman and Danny Mendick delivered run-scoring singles in the fourth to erase a 1-0 Rays advantage and allow Fedde to carry that lead into the ninth. Grifol wanted to stay away from using Leasure, with the bullpen as a whole severely limited, but he didn’t want to lose out behind this terrific Fedde performance.

“I’ll give him the next couple of days off,” Grifol said of Leasure.

“All his stuff was working, and I thought he was going to finish it. He was so strong today,” Leasure said of Fedde. “I wasn’t really thinking about the save or anything like that. I really just wanted to get that win and finish it for Fedde.”

A once-dormant White Sox offense scored 21 runs over the past three games, compared to 27 in the previous 13. This weekend series was one of the strongest three-game runs over the past two seasons for a team that has lost 123 times during that stretch.

But it all started with Fedde. He now has weapons to both sides of the plate, using a changeup, sinker and cutter against a Twins lineup featuring mostly lefties last time out and relying more on the sweeper Sunday against a righty-heavy lineup.

“It makes it tough for other teams to pick who they're putting in a lineup,” Fedde said. “Can't just stack me. That's probably the biggest difference."

“You've got to give credit to Fedde,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He had a nice breaking ball going, a good feel for it early in the count, late in the count and really tough for us to make adjustments.”