The White Sox had a four-run lead in the first inning Sunday — with Dylan Cease, one of the best in all of baseball, on the mound — and blew it.
To which Sox Nation collectively sighed and said, “Of course they did.”
General manager Rick Hahn probably didn’t get wind of any fan discontent, thank goodness.
It was shaping up to be a fine day against the Orioles at Guaranteed Rate Field. Gavin Sheets and Jake Burger homered back-to-back for a 4-0 lead. The Sox had a chance at a winning streak — two straight, baby! — and their first series win of the season. And Cease? He’s Cease.
What could go wrong?
Burger’s error that allowed two unearned runs was the first sign of disaster. Cease’s wild pitch that brought in the tying run in the sixth and ended his shot at a “W” was as forehead-slappingly Sox as it gets.
And then there was this: First-year manager Pedro Grifol left Cease in the game for a career-high 113 pitches. Holy mother of mid-April.
Did anyone see that pitch count and not think: Don’t the Sox have enough injuries, like, all the time?
If it’s not Eloy Jimenez or Yoan Moncada getting hurt, if it’s not Sheets falling down in right field in Minnesota as another lead unravels, if it’s not the Sox continuing to be unable to win at home, there’s still always something fanning the here-we-go-again flames.
It’s only mid-April. Plenty of really good teams have started 6-10. That’s what any baseball person would say.
I admit I’m being slightly more reactionary than that, but it’s only because the sky is falling. And it seems that most Sox fans these days have a very difficult time remaining positive about their team, though Hahn might disagree with that.
“You guys always hear from the most negative fans,” he told reporters before the Orioles series began. “The fans I talk to never come up to me and say, ‘Rick, this is the start of just the same stuff as last year.’ They seem to seek you guys out in the comments sections. Imagine that.”
None of this is hard to imagine. If only it were.
The Cubs took two of three at Dodger Stadium and would have swept the series if not for David Peralta’s two-out, two-run single in the ninth inning off Michael Fulmer on Saturday. Still, that’s three series wins in a row for the North Siders. How many more until we can say they’re actually pretty dang not bad at all? …
Patrick Wisdom was the Cubs’ weekend MVP — this homer-a-day thing works quite well — but Cody Bellinger had the top two plays on the highlight reel. No. 2 was his catch over the wall Saturday to rob his Dodgers replacement, Jason Heyward, of a home run. No. 1 was his home run Sunday, a monster shot he punctuated by rounding the bases so slowly, he could have moonwalked home faster. Now that’s how you say, “Miss me?” …
Javy Baez was yanked by Tigers manager A.J. Hinch from the opener of a weekend series in San Francisco after losing track of the outs and getting doubled off second base on a routine pop fly. And this was right after the ex-Cubs shortstop, hitting .100 going into the game, barely made it to second on a double off the wall — his first extra-base hit of the season — having walked out of the batter’s box admiring what he thought was a home run.
Detroit doesn’t exactly have “El Mago” fever, but maybe Baez will get it together. He bounced back from the benching with two more doubles, four hits in all and four RBI over the next two games. …
A Stanley Cup Final prediction already? Here goes: Bruins over the Oilers in six.
And print it. …
My NBA Finals pick would have been Bucks over the Suns in six, but that was before Giannis Antetokounmpo jacked up his back Sunday in a scary fall under the basket. For now, I’ll stick to hoping the best player on the planet gets well and back out there very soon.
THIS YOU GOTTA SEE
Warriors at Kings, Game 2 (9 p.m. Monday, TNT): The defending champs are on the ropes already after the Kings — in the playoffs for the first time since 2006 — took a wild Game 1 126-123. Another “light the beam!” kind of night at the Golden 1 Center?
Cubs at Athletics (8:40 p.m. Tuesday, Marquee): Marcus Stroman takes his miniscule 1.00 ERA to the bump against a team so hilariously bad, there should be a sequel to “Moneyball” titled “Funnyball.” But seriously, folks.
Illinois spring football game (7:30 p.m. Thursday, BTN): The starters will take on everyone else, with the backups receiving double points — 12 for a touchdown, six for a field goal and so on — for all scores. No word yet on participation trophies or orange slices.
ONLY BECAUSE YOU ASKED
From Ernesto, via email: “Why do you hate the Bulls?”
Why does the sun rise in the southwest? Why does the rain in Spain fall mainly on Des Plaines? Why does it take three sportswriters to change a lightbulb — one to screw it in, one to make sure the screwer’s ill-fitting pants don’t fall down and one to tweet about it in order to seem like he’s working? That’s probably enough nonsensical questions for today.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
The Grizzlies: When the Lakers come to your house for Game 1 and blow your doors off with Anthony Davis and LeBron James as their third- and fourth-leading scorers, it’s already too late to call for help.
NBA superstar injuries: First Ja Morant hurts his hand Sunday, then Giannis goes down? At least we know Zach LaVine is safe.
College QB competitions: If your school’s coach still says he hasn’t picked a starter by the end of spring ball, look into his eyes. If they’re clear, he’s lying. If they’re vacant, he’s already checking the transfer portal.
Jim Wolf: The umpire actually called a pitch-clock violation on Bellinger as he was acknowledging an ovation from the crowd before his first at-bat as a visitor at Dodger Stadium. Wolf must be a barrel of fun at parties.
The Maple Leafs: Their first-round series doesn’t begin until Tuesday, but wouldn’t it be easier if we just skipped straight to their inevitable soul-crushing Game 7 defeat?