|Jake Arrieta -- not sharp lately|
The North Siders had their ace, defending NL Cy Young award winner Jake Arrieta, on the mound, while the White Sox were countering with their No. 5 starter, Miguel Gonzalez.
However, games are not played on paper -- and surprise, surprise -- Gonzalez outpitched Arrieta in a 5-4 Sox victory:
Gonzalez: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BBs, 8 Ks, 1 HR
Arrieta: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BBs, 6 Ks, 1 HR
Neither man figured in the decision, but taking a longer view, maybe we should have known this was not a mismatch.
Arrieta has not been pitching well. The Cubs have lost seven of the last 10 games he has started, including the last four. Arrieta has allowed 20 earned runs in 29.1 innings pitched over his last five outings, only one of which has been a quality start. That will pencil out to a 6.14 ERA.
In contrast, Gonzalez has churned out five consecutive quality starts for the Sox. He has allowed 11 earned runs over 32.2 innings during that span, good for a rock-solid 3.03 ERA.
The Sox right-hander is only 1-2 during that stretch, but it's through no fault of his own. He should have gotten the win Monday night, as he walked off the mound with a two outs in the seventh inning and a 4-2 lead.
But as we discussed in yesterday's blog entry, the Sox are woefully thin in the bullpen right now. Jacob Turner had a short start Friday against the Detroit Tigers. And Chris Sale did not make his start Saturday after the whole jersey-slashing incident, so the Sox bullpen has had to cover an absurd amount of innings over the past few days.
Both closer David Robertson and top set-up reliever Nate Jones were unavailable Monday, leaving Matt Albers and Dan Jennings to try to protect the 4-2 lead in the ninth. They could not. The Cubs tied it, although we can credit Jennings for recording a key strikeout of Jason Heyward with two on and two out to preserve the 4-4 tie.
The Sox then recorded their third consecutive walk-off victory. J.B. Shuck singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth against newly acquired Cubs left-hander Mike Montgomery. Dioner Navarro advanced the runner to second with a sacrifice bunt, and Tyler Saladino delivered a game-winning base hit to center field.
In case you were wondering, this is the first time the Sox have had three straight walk-off winners since Aug. 4-6, 1962.
The Sox will send James Shields to the mound in the second game of the series Tuesday. He'll be opposed by Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks.
Technically, I guess Hendricks is the fifth starter for the Cubs, but much like Gonzalez, he's been pitching better than that moniker would suggest.
Hendricks hasn't given up an earned run since June 29, and has logged a 0.72 ERA over his last seven appearances (six starts).
Maybe as Sox fans, we should be more worried about Hendricks and less worried about Arrieta, media hype aside.