Cubs/Sox Scorecard: 5 Takeaways from the Crosstown Classic

The Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox faced off this week at Wrigley Field. They will do it again at Guaranteed Rate the last weekend of May. Both teams are looking for wins. The White Sox are slowly creeping back to .500 after an end of April to forget, tied with Cleveland for second place. Meanwhile the Cubs are slowly creeping downward, less than a game behind the Pirates for third place. The good news is that it will be very difficult to catch the Reds for last place as the Cubs currently have three times as many wins as the Reds (3) and lead the Reds by 6 games.

With both teams struggling, someone is hoping for a couple of easy wins because wins won’t come easy in the short term.  After the White Sox play the Cubs, they go to Boston, host Cleveland, and then host the Yankees for four games.  The Yankees win streak ended at 11, but it feels like another streak will kick off right away. On the North side, the Cubs will host the Dodgers after the White Sox, then go to San Diego, followed by a trip to Arizona.  That doesn’t sound like much fun either.

Somebody needed to want it a little more.  The White Sox have dominated the Cubs over the last two years, going 6-1 over that time which stretched to 8-1 after winning both games, 3-1 and 4-3.  That includes 6-0 at Wrigley Field. After two games in 45 degree weather, with the first game also taking place with rain and swirling wins, what can we learn from the initial Crosstown Classic.

1.       Michael Kopech is the real deal

Kopech wasn’t real efficient in the opener, throwing 83 pitches in four innings (58 for strikes). He gave up 4 hits and 2 walks which is no reason to throw a party.  Of his 12 outs, he had five strikeouts which is pretty good.  But the real story is that he looked great.  He had a ton of confidence in his fastball and hitters seemed to be really confused when his secondary pitches came in.  He commanded the game during his innings. Overall, Kopech has 1.17 ERA in 23 innings, 23 strikeouts and a 1.04 WHIP.  As he gets more efficient, Kopech is going to be a big part of the White Sox playoff run.

2.       Liam Hendriks is settling in

After a rough start to the season, Hendriks looks like the defending Reliever of the Year.  He has pitched 3 times in the last 5 days.  He has given up no runs, no hits, and 1 walk against 4 strikeouts.  He got two saves for his effort and would have had three but the White Sox decided to score a run against the Angels to take him out of Save range.

3.       Cubs Bullpen is Looking Solid

The Cubs bullpen gave up 1 run over 11 innings during the series with the White Sox.  They were asked to do plenty as well since the Cubs tried using Effross as an opener on Tuesday (probably won’t try that again) causing Keegan Thompson to come in during the second inning. During the first game, the Cubs used Thompson, Michael Rucker, Mychal Givens, and Chris Martin.  Thompson gave up the homer to Tim Anderson, but otherwise he has been devasting this year with a .89 ERA and a matching .89 WHIP over 20.1 innings. Rucker (2 IP), Givens (1 IP), and Martin (1 IP) all had clean outings.  In game 2, Hendricks did spot the bullpen a little better by going 5.2 innings and then Wick, Givens again, and David Robertson all had clean innings.

4.       Cubs Hitting Needs to Get Back on Track

The Cubs bats never quite woke up during the series with the White Sox.  In game 1, the Cubs managed 6 hits and a lone run from a Nico Hoerner double that scored Ian Happ (still batting above .300). In the second game, the Cubs touched up Lucas Giolito for three runs in the second inning off home runs by Hoerner and Patrick Wisdom, which is not easy to do.  But that was the end to offensive production.  The Cubs managed all of five hits while Giolito struck out 10 in 5.2 innings.  Seiya Suzuki, the April Rookie of the Month, was 0-8 in the series, and is now batting .250 with an OPS .840.

5.       White Sox Hitting Was Just Enough.

The White Sox feasted on Cubs starters over the series.  The Sox jumped on Effross for 2 runs in the game opener in the second inning and taking Kyle Hendricks for four runs in the second game.  It was the long ball that came to the White Sox aid during the series.  Tim Anderson homered in game 1 and Jose Abreu and Leury Garcia homered in game 2.  The Southsiders hit well in the second game with 9 hits but left 11 on base.  Over the two days, they left 25 men on base showing that the small ball game is not quite clicking for them.

The White Sox will get a little bit of momentum with a 2-game winning streak as they vaulted into second place, courtesy of the Cubs.  The difficult stretch of games for the White Sox will necessitate that all parts of their game click at the same time – long ball, hitting with men on base, and starting pitching. The Cubs continue to tantalize fans each and every game, typically losing by just a run.  The Cubs, sitting at 9-15, boast a run differential of -3, less than the Rockies’ -11 who are 14-10, less than Arizona’s -16 who are 13-13, less than Atlanta’s -8 who are 12-15.  The Cubs just need a few more breaks, every game, to accelerate into a win streak.


  • Larry Goldman

    Larry spends his nights and days watching, researching, and writing about sports in Chicago and the national conversation.

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