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White Sox 17, Cubs 13: What on Earth was THAT?

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Patrick Wisdom’s new mustache was a perfect symbol of this 1970s-style game.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The White Sox defeated the Cubs 17-13 Friday evening.

Just look at that sentence for a while and let it swish around in your mind for a moment or two.

You know all the jokes people make about football scores when a baseball score is like that, inserting the names of NFL teams?

So, “Bears 17, Bears 13”? Yeah, ha ha ha.

Oh, and then there’s this:

I’m going to amend that immediate post-game tweet I sent out last night, because that’s only in the baseball-reference.com era (since 1901). The 1894 Cubs also lost two consecutive 10-run games. This is also the first time in the bb-ref era that the Cubs have both scored and allowed 10+ runs in consecutive games.

Further, the White Sox became the first team to score 17 after trailing by six or more in the first inning... since the Cubs on August 25, 1925. I suppose this game had some entertainment value, so let’s rewind to the beginning, when the Cubs absolutely pounded Dallas Keuchel.

Michael Hermosillo led off the game with a walk on a nicely-done nine-pitch at-bat. Frank Schwindel singled, and then Patrick Wisdom, with newly styled facial hair, celebrated his 30th birthday with a home run [VIDEO].

We are only 16 pitches into the game and the Cubs have a 3-0 lead. That’s good! And that ball was absolutely demolished:

The Cubs were not done demolishing Keuchel, either. The Sox lefty retired the next two Cubs, then allowed a single to Austin Romine. Robinson Chirinos scored him with a booming double [VIDEO].

An infield single by Jason Heyward put runners on first and third and Chirinos came in on this hit by Andrew Romine [VIDEO].

The sixth run of the inning scored when Romine found himself picked off — but Heyward took off for the plate and Cesar Hernandez threw the ball over everyone’s head [VIDEO].

So it’s 6-0 and the Cubs haven’t played in the field yet. What could possibly go wrong?

These are the 2021 Cubs. How can I even ask that question?

The Sox scored one off Keegan Thompson in the bottom of the first. Thompson got through the second 1-2-3 but... then the Sox scored eight in the third, capped by a three-run homer from Yasmani Grandal, who had just been activated from the injured list, not having played a MLB game since July 5.

The worst event of that inning, though, wasn’t the three-run homer. It was this popup dropped by Andrew Romine [VIDEO].

That play should have ended the inning. Instead it gave the Sox the lead at 7-6, and they scored one more before Adrian Sampson, who had relieved Thompson four batters into the frame, got Yoan Moncada to fly to center.

Here’s the thing. A major league infielder has to catch that ball. Why is Andrew Romine even on this team? He’s a 35-year-old journeyman who will absolutely, positively not be on the Cubs next year. Why not try Abiatal Avelino at that backup infield position? Avelino is hitting reasonably well at Triple-A Iowa and is 26 and might have a chance to be a backup infielder for the 2022 Cubs.

More about that play (which, incidentally, was Romine’s second error of the inning):

Close. Castillo was playing second base for the Mets June 12, 2009 when he did exactly what Romine did — dropped an easy popup — only that one cost the Mets the game:

And in a similar intracity game, too.

And that’s when I started thinking... I have seen this game before. Yes, and this year. You know, June 30 in Milwaukee, when the Cubs scored seven in the first inning only to lose by eight. And the Brewers had an eight-run inning in that one.

Except that was almost a completely different Cubs team! Eighteen Cubs played in that June game. Only six of them are currently on the Cubs active roster.

Sheesh. The Cubs got totally shut down by Reynaldo Lopez, who relieved Keuchel after Schwindel led off the second inning with a single. Lopez struck out Wisdom, after which Schwindel was caught stealing. (Why was he even in such a position? Schwindel has zero MLB steals and had only three in 13 attempts in his 842-game minor league career, the last in 2018 at Triple-A Omaha.) Matt Duffy also struck out, and in fact Lopez threw five no-hit innings, striking out seven.

The Sox might have scored one in the fourth, but Hermosillo stole a home run from Andrew Vaughn [VIDEO].

The Sox scored four more in the fifth to make it 13-6, so the Cubs’ deficit was now bigger than their first-inning lead.

Yikes.

They chipped one run off that lead in the seventh with two out when Hermosillo homered [VIDEO].

The Sox got that run back in the bottom of the inning and if you’re still keeping score (I was!) it’s now 14-7.

The Cubs then made it close in the eighth. Wisdom, having a big birthday game, walked. Matt Duffy singled and Ian Happ’s double made it 14-8 [VIDEO].

Two outs later, Heyward also doubled to make it 14-10 [VIDEO].

Down by only four. Could this be a fantastic comeback victory story?

Well, of course not, these are the 2021 Cubs. In the eighth, Manuel Rodriguez served up a three-run homer to Grandal (two of the runs charged to the previous pitcher, Ryan Meisinger) to make it 17-10. That gave Grandal eight RBI, tying the White Sox franchise record, last done by Robin Ventura September 4, 1995.

That brought Craig Kimbrel into the game. With a seven-run lead. I didn’t understand Tony La Russa’s use of Kimbrel anyway — even if the Sox don’t score those runs in the eighth, it’s not a save situation in the ninth.

The Cubs knocked around Kimbrel just as they had done three weeks ago at Wrigley Field. Kimbrel did retire the first two Cubs in the ninth easily, but then Wisdom continued his birthday celebration with his second homer of the game [VIDEO].

That homer was Wisdom’s 23rd of the year. When he hit it, he took over the team lead from Javier Báez, who had held it for four weeks after he was traded to the Mets. Wisdom also now needs just four more home runs this year to break the Cubs rookie record of 26, set by Kris Bryant in 2015.

Kimbrel then walked Duffy and Happ sent a ball out of the yard [VIDEO].

A four-run deficit isn’t going to be made up with two out in the ninth no matter how wacky the game is, and Austin Romine struck out to end it.

Entertaining? Sure, in a macabre sort of way. These are the 2021 Cubs, though, and we’ll take entertainment however we can get it.

Bizarre stats brought about by that ninth inning:

Kimbrel vs. Cubs, 2021: 2⅔ IP, six R, six ER, three HR, 20.25 ERA, 2.625 WHIP
Kimbrel vs. all other teams, 2021: 45⅓ IP, nine R, two ER, two HR, 0.40 ERA, 0.772 WHIP

The win gave the White Sox the season series and thus the Crosstown Cup, if anyone cares about that, and I sure don’t, even if the Cubs had won it, that’s a big yawn from me.

There are usually a lot of Cubs fans at these games on the South Side. In fact, in some previous years those crowds have been more than half Cubs fans. Not Friday night, though. I’d estimate maybe 25 percent of this one was Cubs fans, and it wasn’t a sellout. The announced tickets sold total of 37,892 was almost 3,000 short of Guaranteed Rate Field’s listed capacity of 40,615.

Last bit of trivia about this game: The 30 total runs is the most ever scored in a Cubs/White Sox regular season game. Previous record: 26, in a 15-11 Cubs win at Wrigley Field July 2, 2006.

I still have other note to share with you about this mess: David Bote was supposed to start Friday’s game but suffered this bizarre injury during batting practice [VIDEO].

Here’s how that happened:

Second baseman David Bote suffered a right ankle sprain during batting practice after stepping on a baseball that blended into the white part of the spray-painted Guaranteed Rate name on the grass along the third-base line. An X-ray on Bote’s ankle was negative, the team announced. Bote will undergo further evaluation Saturday.

That adds injury AND insult to this season, which I’m sure almost everyone connected with the Cubs is ready to have end, and soon. Hope Bote is okay.

Strikeout watch: Cubs hitters struck out 12 times in this game. That gives them 1,276 for the season. They need 243 more in the season’s 32 remaining games, or an average of 8.1 per game, to break the franchise record (1,518, set in 2015). They need 320 more in the 32 remaining games, or an average of 10 per game, to break the MLB record (1,595, set by the 2019 Tigers).

The Cubs will try it again Saturday evening on the South Side. Alec Mills will start for the Cubs and Lance Lynn is the scheduled starter for the White Sox. Game time is 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network, and also on NBC Sports Chicago with the Sox announcers.