Throughout spring training the widely held assumption was that the White Sox would use Nate Jones as their closer after trading Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks, but manager Robin Ventura avoided making any sort of official announcement and now we know why: Matt Lindstrom is going to be Chicago’s closer.
Jones is probably the better pitcher, but Lindstrom isn’t bad either and has some previous closing experience for the Marlins in 2009 and Astros in 2010. He has 45 career saves, along with a 3.56 ERA, and last season Lindstrom logged 61 innings with a 3.12 ERA and 46/23 K/BB ratio for the White Sox.
These things aren’t set in stone, of course, and odds are Jones will get a crack in the closer role at some point. But for now Ventura will go with the 34-year-old veteran and use Jones in key spots that don’t involve a lead of 1-3 runs in the ninth inning. Depending on specifically how Ventura uses him, that could actually be a more valuable role.
With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.
Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.
The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.
Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.