Revved up after winning six straight on the road, the White Sox’s big bats fell silent back Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Even with Tim Anderson missing his fifth game with a groin injury, Nomar Mazara just returning to the starting lineup Tuesday and Nick Madrigal and Edwin Encarnacion out with injuries, the Sox still came into Wednesday’s play leading the major leagues with a .284 batting average while ranking second in home runs, on-base percentage and slugging.
In a 1-0 loss to the Brewers, they ran into a tough starting pitcher in Adrian Houser, who combined with David Phelps and Josh Hader for a six-hit shutout.
“I think [Houser] throws the ball pretty well when he’s up in the zone,” said Danny Mendick, who replaced Madrigal at second base and was 3 for 3. “He got a couple of guys to chase the fastball up. He mixed up speeds pretty well. I think he had a good night. You’ve got to tip your cap to him and we are going to get him next time.”
Dallas Keuchel delivered his third quality start in as many tries for the Sox, allowing one run on five hits over seven innings.
The game’s only run came in the third, when Eric Sogard singled home Mark Mathias.
“Really nice job,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said of Keuchel. “He was as efficient as he could be, had to work through a couple of innings there with some traffic, but he did a great job and gave us the length that he did. He gave us a chance.”
Rotation roulette: Gio Gonzalez moved from the bullpen to the rotation when Reynaldo Lopez went down with a shoulder injury, and the veteran lefty makes his second start Thursday night when he opposes the Brewers’ Josh Lindblom.
The Sox need a starter to replace the injured Carlos Rodon, and they have another day or two to firm up a decision.
“One thing I’ve learned over the last four, five months, but it’s certainly been reinforced here over the first two weeks of the season, we’re not setting in stone any long-term plans,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Let’s get through today. We know who’s available today, we have a general idea of what we want to do tomorrow.”
The Sox could opt to go with an opener for the time being, and red-hot relief pitcher Ross Detwiler could get the nod Saturday.
“I don’t see us necessarily stretching Det out to be a four- or five-inning guy here in the next couple turns through,” Hahn said. “He has certainly been very valuable in the role we’re using him for but also, given the experience, could conceivably be a candidate for some type of opener situation. He provides us some flexibility.”
Hahn said as the season progresses Dane Dunning and Jonathan Stiever are candidates to join the Sox’s rotation from Schaumburg.
Dunning is a highly regarded prospect, but he missed the 2019 season after having Tommy John surgery in spring training.
“He’s continuing to build up his endurance and essentially is a guy who is coming back as a starter post-TJ without the ability to go on rehab assignments,” Hahn said. “We have a very strict program he’s following and it doesn’t quite include making his major-league debut come this Saturday. But at some point we’re going to let him in.”