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Stiever's second start a 'learning experience'

@scottmerkin
September 19, 2020

It would be perfectly understandable for the White Sox to be a little off-kilter during their 7-1 loss to the Reds Friday night at Great American Ball Park. The White Sox clinched their first playoff berth since 2008 on Thursday, and celebration followed, although they believe they have bigger accomplishments

It would be perfectly understandable for the White Sox to be a little off-kilter during their 7-1 loss to the Reds Friday night at Great American Ball Park.

The White Sox clinched their first playoff berth since 2008 on Thursday, and celebration followed, although they believe they have bigger accomplishments ahead of them this season. But Friday’s setback was more about the Reds striking early and often against rookie Jonathan Stiever and Tyler Mahle shutting down the potent White Sox offense.

“That kind of puts a damper on everything, right out of the chute,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Mahle, their starter, was actually pretty good. His ball has tremendous life, obviously kept us at bay.

Box score

“I would refer to that as being more of the combination than the emotional drain. But is there a truly emotional drain for us -- for example, what happened? Sure, there's a little bit of it. But that's not going to be the overriding issue. You had a young man who threw very well against us today, and on the other side, we gave up a few runs early."

Stiever, in his second career start, allowed six runs on four homers in 2 2/3 innings. The 23-year-old had never pitched above Class A Advanced Winston-Salem before facing the Tigers this past Sunday, but unlike that Detroit start -- in which Stiever struggled in the first but got himself back on track -- Stiever never recovered on Friday.

Nick Castellanos, Joey Votto, Tucker Barnhart and Jesse Winker went deep before Stiever gave way to Gio González. Stiever didn’t record a strikeout or even a swing-and-miss, per Statcast, among his 64 pitches.

“As far as the mechanics go, just finishing my pitches,” Stiever said. “I was just cutting myself off, I felt like, and that wasn’t really letting me finish through the zone.

“Caused me to miss over the plate with some fastballs when I was trying to go away to a lefty. The same with the slider. I noticed it a lot, and that was a pitch that was really just causing me trouble. Just not being able to finish that pitch, get late movement on it. Just really backing up on me pretty much the whole night, and obviously the results showed that.”

These starts are learning experiences for Steiver, who talked with pitching coach Don Cooper and González after he left the game.

“Gio González came in after he threw and kind of went over a lot of stuff with me, which means a lot,” Stiever said. “Sort of different things, just how it is a learning experience. You’ve got to be able to grow and not get too down on it, even though the results were not there. Sort of focus on what can you do next in your process just to get better.”

Friday’s game wasn’t a total loss, however, not with left-handed reliever Garrett Crochet making his Major League debut.

Crochet, who was selected 11th overall by Chicago in the 2020 Draft, was brought up from the alternate training site in Schaumburg, Ill., on Friday to see how he played over the final 10 games and if he could be part of the postseason picture. Crochet threw six pitches at 100 mph or harder in the sixth, the second most by a White Sox pitcher in an outing in the pitch-tracking era (since ‘08). No Chicago pitcher had reached 100 mph in ‘20 before he did tonight. Crochet fanned Brian Goodwin and Jose Garcia in a perfect frame.

The White Sox, who played without shortstop Tim Anderson on a day off, maintained a three-game lead over the Twins in the American League Central and reduced their magic number to clinch the division to five. The Cubs beat Minnesota, 1-0.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.