The New York Yankees entered the weekend with only one series loss. Likewise, the Yankees possess the best record in the MLB and are a measuring stick for this Chicago White Sox roster. The White Sox, meanwhile, have proven throughout the start of the season why they can compete with the best teams. At the same time, they are hovering around the .500 mark.
The weekend series was an odd one, starting with a postponed game and being capped off with a doubleheader. However, the doubleheader capped off a series that the White Sox have to feel great about. The team won the two games and once again, the starting rotation stepped up.
Cueto & Kopech’s Strong Starts
In two starts, it looks like Johnny Cueto hasn’t missed a beat. His pitches don’t have the same life as they did in his younger years. However, at 36-years-old the right-hander can still pitch multiple strong innings. The ability to mess with the hitter’s timing helps and has particularly become a strength for Cueto with the White Sox.
Johnny Cueto, Messing With Timing. pic.twitter.com/qQP6jrlNiD
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 22, 2022
Cueto pitched six innings and despite allowing five hits, gave the White Sox a scoreless start. Moreover, Cueto’s sinker and slider carried the veteran pitcher, as he used the two pitches for 68 of his 95 pitches. The Yankees lineup is built off power but facing an off-speed pitcher who doesn’t pitch with a rhythm threw left them swinging at air.
Kopech, meanwhile, went with the heat, something the Yankees normally would crush. It didn’t matter as Kopech pitched his best game of the season. In seven innings, Kopech allowed only one hit and two walks while striking out six batters.
A tremendous night for Michael Kopech. #ChangeTheGame x @ValpoU pic.twitter.com/ng1b3Egfen
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) May 23, 2022
Kopech’s start was proof that when a pitcher is dialed in, he can’t be hit. The 26-year-old pitcher threw the fastball for 54 of his 92 pitches, including many high heaters. Yet, the Yankees still struggled with the pitch forcing weak contact or late swings. Kopech has the ceiling to become an ace and when his pitches are clicking, he is unhittable and another pitcher that fuels a strong rotation.
White Sox lineup steps up
The White Sox scored five runs twice in the weekend series but only won one of those games. The Yankees average 4.97 runs per game, third-most in the MLB. High-scoring games looked like they were going to be necessary for a series win, so it seemed. The team needed runs and with the warmer weather came the hot bats as the White Sox scored 13 runs in the series.
The 7-5 loss was defined by the power at the top of the order. Jose Abreu got a cutter inside and managed to pull the ball for a three-run home run. However, the rest of the scoring surge would be defined by the depth of the lineup.
Put it on the board! pic.twitter.com/BM4IQYrpzr
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) May 21, 2022
The 3-1 win saw Yasmani Grandal drive in the first run while AJ Pollock hit the go-ahead home run in the ninth inning. In the final game of the series, the White Sox again rallied late with Andrew Vaughn and Reese McGuire rapping singles to put the first two runs on the board. Vaughn and McGuire were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup and proved that the White Sox possess a deep batting order along with a powerful one.
With a 2-0 lead, the bottom half of the lineup set up the biggest plate appearance of the weekend. It was an at-bat that define the series for the White Sox and the Yankees.
Anderson’s big hit to cap off the series
Tim Anderson was thrown into the headlines over the weekend and in many ways, it was a tough weekend for the star shortstop. After multiple plate appearances where Anderson was booed by the fans at Yankee Stadium, the all-star left the crowd stunned and silent.
With two runners on base, Yankees reliever Miguel Castro entered the game to try to get the final out in the eighth inning. With a slider left over the heart of the plate, Anderson got the full barrel on the ball and powered the pitch over the right-field fence.
Don't sleep on Tim Anderson. pic.twitter.com/gaNGRaK1aZ
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) May 23, 2022
Anderson trotted around the bases with a weight off his shoulders. The swing ended the series with an exclamation point and Anderson once again proved why he is one of the more complete players in the game. Not only does he make the White Sox a fun team but he carries the roster, with both great fielding and significant plate appearances to lead off the lineup.
What the series means for the White Sox
The White Sox played the Yankees last week. In the series, the Yankees displayed the talent gap, particularly between a good team in the American League and a World Series contender. The series showed some of the underlying weaknesses within the White Sox that proved they could be a good team but can only go so far with the current team.
The White Sox won back-to-back games to take the series. While one good day doesn’t make a team elite, the wins displayed a more complete team. The White Sox still trail the Minnesota Twins for the division lead and have stumbled to start the season. However, the series proved the team is poised to make a run and pile on the wins. Additionally, the series proved they can and will compete with the best teams in the league with one of the most talented rosters in the league.
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