Chicago — The blossoming of Casey Mize continues. Though on a warm Thursday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, it was in a losing effort.
The Central Division-leading White Sox beat the Tigers 4-1 Thursday, their 12th win in the last 13 against Detroit.
“I love the fact that he’s going to leave tonight pretty pissed off that he didn’t keep the ball in the ballpark like he wanted,” manager AJ Hinch said. “I think he’s got that edge that really matters when he’s on the mound.”
Mize limited a potent Chicago White Sox lineup to five hits in seven innings. Three of the five hits, though, were solo home runs.
“Disappointed for sure,” Mize said. “I felt like my stuff was there and I felt good physically. I just hate the outcome part of it.”
One of the mantras that has served Mize well through the early part of his career — trust the process — gets tested on a night like this.
“It’s tough to balance that,” he said. “My body was in a good position. My stuff was fine. But the outcome wasn’t good. Obviously there’s disappointment there. But at the end of the day, you keep moving forward.
“I know if I feel like I did tonight, there will be many more nights of success where I’m not disappointed like I am tonight.”
Yoan Moncada, who came in on a six-game hitting streak and hitting .380 in his previous 16 games, hit a well-placed, 1-2 splitter over the fence in left in the first inning. The pitch was down and away and somehow Moncada not only reached it, he barreled it and hit it out the opposite way.
“Below the zone, too, that was weird,” Mize said. “I don’t know if I consider that one a mistake. Just a good piece of hitting. His approach was trying to hit something soft the other way, especially with two strikes.”
Hat-tip to the hitter on that one. But Mize regrets the location on the other two.
Left-handed hitting Jake Lamb crushed a center-cut, 1-1 four-seam fastball with two outs in the third inning and knocked it into the right-field seats.
Then in the seventh, Yasmani Grandal got an elevated two-seam fastball (94 mph) and hit it 457 feet to the back rows in right-center. The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 110 mph.
“We continue to see Casey throw quality outings,” Hinch said. “He’s not going to be happy with tonight and we’re not happy with the result, but he threw the ball well.”
It was the fifth quality start for Mize in his last six. He struck out six, got 17 swings-and-misses and 14 called strikes. Once again, he unleased his full five-pitch arsenal, but he all but dumped the splitter after the Moncada home run.
“I didn’t abandon the splitter just because of that one swing,” Mize said. “I wasn’t pleased with the feel of it early.”
Instead, he started throwing more four-seam fastballs up, more sliders and he mixed in more knuckle-curveballs than normal.
“He can really pitch,” Hinch said. “He can mix pitches, he reads swings. He can see what they’re trying to do. And more often than not he’s been able to execute.”
Mize’s performance was trumped, though, by ageless right-hander Lance Lynn.
“It’s like a man vs. man competition with Lance Lynn,” Hinch said. “He’s going to come at you and the ball is going to move a little bit, but he’s going to be bullish. That approach has held up for him.”
Certainly did on this night. He bullied 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 and allowed only two runners into scoring position. The only spot of bother came in the second when he walked Castro and Akil Baddoo to load the bases with two outs.
But Lynn struck out Jake Rogers on three pitches to end the threat.
“He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes,” Hinch said. “He throws that arm-side cutter on purpose, the one that backs up. Then he will throw the really good one. And he’s got 95-96 mph when he needs it.
“When he got the bases loaded, all of a sudden he’s popping 96 consistently to Jake.”
The Tigers managed one hit off relievers Aaron Bummer, Evan Marshall and closer Liam Hendriks.
Tim Anderson hit the White Sox fourth solo home run of the night off Daniel Norris in the eighth, a blast just short of the shrubbery in dead center field.
Norris ended up striking out Adam Eaton and Moncada looking to end the eighth and the White Sox bench was barking at home plate umpire Will Little over the calls. Little ended up ejecting starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, who is expected to start on Saturday for the White Sox.
The elephant in the room, though, with Mize and with fellow rookie Tarik Skubal, is the inevitable innings restrictions that at some point are going to cause Hinch and pitching coach Chris Fetter to adjust and trim workloads.
“We want Casey to pitch a full season and we want him to feel strong at the end,” Hinch said. “And we want to be cognizant of where he’s at in his career.”
Mize was at 89 pitches after seven innings and Hinch said he could easily have let him go another inning. But pulling him out after seven is another way to reduce his workload.
“We’re paying attention to the bigger view and the bigger plan,” Hinch said. “But Casey doesn’t start games with a governor on him, or with a mindset that he only has so many more innings left. That’s not how we’re doing this.
“He is going to give us his best as long as we keep putting the ball in his hand.”
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