You’re facing a Rangers team that, because the Dodgers refused to schedule an afternoon start on getaway day, flew overnight and got to their hotel after 7 a.m.
You’ve got Chris Sale going, the hottest pitcher in the league, and maybe its best.
Texas doesn’t have its best pitcher going. Or its second. Or its third. Or its fourth.
They’re all on the disabled list.
But they’ve got a 35-year-old missing his original hip on the mound.
Your team had a headline-grabbing winter, trading for Jeff Samardzija and signing Melky Cabrera and premier closer David Robertson. Hopes were high.
Texas was coming off a brutal season, finishing with the worst record in the league, and then breaking camp with its rotation blown to bits.
The Rangers are holding down a playoff spot. The White Sox have the second-worst record in the American League.
But you’ve got Sale going, and he was on a roll of seven straight quality starts (5-2, 1.52, 79 strikeouts and 10 walks in 53.1 innings, .146/.197/.249 slash), six of which deserved a different nickname if one existed.
And in that stretch he’d toyed with the Rangers in Arlington, going 7-3-0-0-2-13 on them in a 9-2 White Sox laugher.
Texas was coming off a big win against Clayton Kershaw and a grueling 1-0 loss to Zack Greinke, and those had to be draining, even without the red-eye flight afterwards.
Sale is perfect through five, with eight strikeouts in that span. Tyler Flowers rockets a Lewis pitch out of the park in the bottom of that fifth frame, and with Sale’s stuff at its dominant best, 1-0 felt like 11-0.
But it was 1-0.
It would have been 2-0 had it not been for perfect and powerful throws from Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus that put the ball in Robinson Chirinos’s mitt before Avisail Garcia’s slide on Conor Gillaspie’s double to the wall in the fourth.
But it was just 1-0.
You’re Chicago, and though Sale was coming off a season-high 125 pitches against Tampa Bay, he’d had an extra day of rest before that one and, man, Robertson is a great closer with Sale-like numbers and this is what your team pays him to do.
So you applaud Sale’s eight innings of awesomeness and count on Robertson shutting things down.
Pinch-hitter Rougned Odor pops out to shortstop.
Robertson gets Shin-Soo Choo down 1-2.
Then walks him.
Elvis Andrus isn’t bunting.
He singles to center.
It’s hard being a White Sox fan this year, with high expectations giving way to the second-worst record in the league and a feeling of hopelessness and it’s not even Father’s Day yet.
Joey Gallo is up, having struck out and struck out and struck out against Sale, and even though a wild pitch during his at-bat against Robertson moved the tying run to third with one out and the go-ahead run into scoring position, he struck out for a fourth time on the night.
You walk Prince Fielder, because it sets up the potential for a force at second and because of course.
Adam Rosales is on deck but you are well aware that Mitch Moreland is available on the bench. Josh Hamilton isn’t available and Adrian Beltre isn’t available, but Mitch Moreland is.
But you walk Fielder on purpose because you’re not about to give him anything to hit in that situation, and another ball kicking away from Flowers behind the plate would be devastating.
And because Mitch Moreland is no Prince Fielder.
Your big-money closer delivers ball one, and then a strike, the latter of which Moreland rips to right field to plate Choo and plate Andrus, and there goes the lead and Sale’s decision and, a few minutes later, the game.
Eight straight White Sox losses. Seven of them in close games.
Sale to reporters afterwards, asked if he feels he needs to fire a shutout just to get a win: “That’s kind of a crappy question to ask, really. You think I’m gonna say something bad about one of my teammates, you’re dead wrong.”
You’re Chicago, and all you have in your head right now is a bunch of crappy questions.