You really don’t want me to go through all the details of the Cubs’ 4-0 loss to the White Sox, do you?
I’ll get to some of them, of course, but what I really want to talk about is Adbert Alzolay’s changeup, which he started to rely on more in this game, especially against lefthanded hitters.
Here are the key numbers:
The lefties in the Sox lineup went 4-for-15 vs. Adbert Alzolay this afternoon. They went 0-for-5 in ABs ending with his changeup.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 7, 2021
Ah, ha. That includes some groundouts and some strikeouts and here, in fact, are all seven of Alzolay’s Ks [VIDEO].
There’s some NASTY looking stuff in there, some on sliders, some on changeups. The changeup is what he is going to have to develop to be an effective major-league starter. There were some real positive signs in this game that he’s headed in the right direction. That’s so important for the future of this team if Alzolay can command that changeup.
As noted by Jordan Bastian, that pitch is particularly effective against LH hitters. At this stage, that’s what Alzolay should focus on. Kyle Hendricks can get RH hitters out with his changeup, but that’s because he’s Kyle Hendricks. If Alzolay can be effective with it against lefthanders the way he was Saturday, that’s a huge boost to his game and to the Cubs.
Really, Alzolay made only one bad pitch in Saturday’s loss, a fastball that was smacked by Yoan Moncada in the first inning for a two-run double. That was after the White Sox got two little dribbly infield hits. Other than that, Alzolay was dominant. I have been rightly accused of saying an Alzolay outing wasn’t “bad” when... yeah, it probably was... but this outing was excellent. No walks, just six hits and the seven Ks.
He also got some help from his defense. Here’s a nice diving stop by Frank Schwindel in the third inning [VIDEO].
Other than the videos above, though, I don’t really have any Cubs highlights to show you. Carlos Rodon was absolutely dominant through five innings, striking out 11 and departing after he walked Rafael Ortega leading off the sixth. Michael Kopech relieved Rodon and one out later, David Bote singled Ortega to third. That was the only time the Cubs had a runner past second base.
Trevor Megill put the game out of reach by serving up back-to-back homers to Cesar Hernandez and Jose Abreu in the top of the eighth. Hernandez has absolutely worn out Cubs pitching this year — remember, he played in four games against the Cubs earlier this year while with Cleveland. Overall in six games against the Cubs in 2021, Hernandez is hitting .348/.423/.826 (8-for-23) with three doubles and three home runs... and he’ll play four more times against the Cubs this year, Sunday plus a series on the South Side later this month. Yikes.
Also, I’ve had enough of Megill. He throws hard — 97-98 — but there’s no movement and balls often wind up in the seats like that.
Craig Kimbrel made his second appearance of the series for the Sox and threw much better than he did Friday, though if the Wrigley wind had shifted to the south about 10 minutes earlier than it did, Rafael Ortega’s long drive to center that was caught at the wall might have made the basket. Kimbrel then struck out the other two hitters he faced, Willson Contreras (who had a terrible day at the plate, striking out all four times he batted) and Bote. Overall Cubs hitters struck out 17 times, one short of the franchise record for a nine-inning game.
I suppose I can show you one more Cubs highlight, this really nice stop by Andrew Romine in the ninth [VIDEO].
Romine is 35. He’s simply a placeholder for the Cubs, he likely won’t be back next year. But he’s certainly taking advantage of the opportunity to play every day. Good for him.
And good for Alzolay, whose outing Saturday afternoon was very encouraging, even if the game result wasn’t.
The Cubs will try to salvage one game out of this three-game set Sunday evening at Wrigley Field, as they and the Sox are featured on Sunday Night Baseball. Zach Davies will start for the Cubs and Dylan Cease is the scheduled starter for the White Sox. Game time is 6:08 p.m. CT and although this game is being produced by the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball crew, it will air on ABC-TV stations nationwide — check your local listings.