Chicago – The development of Casey Mize continues. Although on a hot Thursday evening at Guaranteed Rate Field, it was a losing effort.
The Central Division leaders White Sox beat the Tigers 4-1 on Thursday, their 12th victory of the last 13 against Detroit.
“I love that he is going to leave tonight quite pissed off that he didn’t keep the ball in the stadium the way he wanted,” manager AJ Hinch said. “I think he has that edge that really matters when he’s on the mound.”
Mize limited a powerful Chicago White Sox roster to five hits in seven innings. Three of the five hits, however, were solo homers.
“Disappointed for sure,” Mize said. “I felt like my things were there and I was feeling good physically. I just hate the result.”
One of the mantras that served Mize well early in her career – trust the process – is tested on a night like this.
“It’s hard to balance,” he said. “My body was in a good position. My business was going well. But the outcome was not good. Obviously there is disappointment. But at the end of the day you keep moving forward.
“I know if I feel like this tonight, there will be many more successful nights where I won’t be as disappointed as I am tonight.”
Yoan Moncada, who came on a six-game hitting streak and hit 0.380 in his previous 16 games, hit a well-placed 1-2 divider over the fence on the left in the first inning. The pitch was low and far and somehow Moncada not only hit him, he threw him and hit him in the opposite direction.
“Below the zone, too, it was weird,” Mize said. “I don’t know if I consider that a mistake. Just a good hit. His approach was trying to hit something soft the other way, especially with two hits.”
Hats off to the batter on that one. But Mize regrets the location on the other two.
Left-handed batter Jake Lamb smashed a four-stitch center-cut 1-1 fastball with two strikeouts in the third inning and knocked it down in the right-field seats.
Then in the seventh, Yasmani Grandal got a high two-stitched fastball (94 mph) and hit it 457 feet down the back rows center-right. The ball left its bat with an exit speed of 110 mph.
“We continue to see Casey launch quality releases,” Hinch said. “He won’t be happy tonight and we’re not happy with the result, but he threw the ball well.”
It was Mize’s fifth quality start in his last six. He struck out six strikes, had 17 hits and misses and 14 takes. Once again, he gave up his entire arsenal of five shots, but he practically gave up the splitter after Moncada’s home run.
“I didn’t give up on the splitter just because of that one hit,” Mize said. “I wasn’t happy with the feeling at first.”
Instead, he started throwing more four-seam fastballs, more sliders, and he shuffled more curved balls than normal.
“He can really throw,” Hinch said. “He can mix heights, he reads the swings. He can see what they’re trying to do. And most of the time he’s been able to perform.”
Mize’s performance, however, was surpassed by ageless right-hander Lance Lynn.
“It’s like a man versus man competition with Lance Lynn,” Hinch said. “He’s going to come towards you and the ball is going to move a bit, but it’s going to be bullish. That approach held up for him.”
Definitely done that night. He intimidated the Tigers hitters with cutters and four-seam fastballs for six innings. The only damage was a first-pitch solo home run by Willi Castro.
Lynn struck out six strikes and allowed only two runners to score. The only problem came in the second when he got Castro and Akil Baddoo to charge the goals with two strikeouts.
But Lynn pulled Jake Rogers out on three shots to end the threat.
“He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes,” Hinch said. “He throws that cutter on purpose to the side of the arm, the backing one. Then he’ll throw the really good one. And he’s 95-96 mph when he needs it.
“When he’s loaded up the bases, all of a sudden he’s steadily passing 96 to Jake.”
The Tigers hit a hit against relievers Aaron Bummer, Evan Marshall and closest Liam Hendriks.
Tim Anderson hit the White Sox’s fourth solo homerun of the night against Daniel Norris in the eighth, a blast just before the shrubs in the stall field.
Norris ended up pulling out Adam Eaton and Moncada who were looking to finish eighth and the White Sox bench barked at home plate umpire Will Little during calls. Little ended up ejecting starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, who is scheduled to start on Saturday for the White Sox.
The elephant in the room, however, along with Mize and with fellow rookie Tarik Skubal, are the inevitable innings restrictions that, at some point, will force Hinch and pitching coach Chris Fetter to adjust and reduce the loads of job.
“We want Casey to kick off a full season and we want him to feel strong at the end,” Hinch said. “And we want to know where he is in his career.”
Mize was 89 pitches after seven innings and Hinch said he could easily have let him play another inning. But removing it after seven hours is another way to reduce its workload.
“We pay attention to the big picture and the big picture,” Hinch said. “But Casey doesn’t start games with a governor on him, or with the idea that he only has so many extra innings left. That’s not how we do it.
“He’s going to give us the best as long as we keep putting the ball in his hand.”