Johnny Cueto didn’t allow a run in his first two starts with the Chicago White Sox.
But a Patrick Wisdom bloop double and a Frank Schwindel single set the tone early for the Cubs, who scored two runs in the first and didn’t look back, beating the Sox 5-1 in the City Series in front of a sellout crowd of 37,820 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“Our approach was hit strikes, make sure to get them in the zone, and whether that be the first pitch or pitches after I think we were just aggressive in terms of that mindset of hitting strikes,” Wisdom said. “It paid off for us.
”It’s just honing in on a strike, making sure you can get something over the plate to hit, something you can do damage with and put a good swing on it.”
Both first-inning runs came with two outs. And in two different forms.
Wisdom’s bloop, with an exit velocity of 76.1 mph according to MLB Statcast, landed just out of the reach of Sox first baseman José Abreu in a shallow right field for an RBI double. Wisdom scored on Schwindel’s single, which had an exit velocity of 103.3 mph.
“They came out aggressive, I saw that since the beginning of the game (and) I tried to deal with it,” Cueto said through an interpreter. “They took advantage of me trying to throw strikes and they are a young team and they were aggressive.”
Nico Hoerner led off the second with a single, moved to third on a single from Rafael Ortega and scored when Andrelton Simmons grounded out to shortstop Tim Anderson.
The Sox threatened to cut into the deficit in the bottom of the second when Yasmani Grandal attempted to score from second Jake Burger’s single to right. Ortega threw him out at the plate to end the inning.
“I patted (third base coach) Joe (McEwing) on the back,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “That’s one of the things you do when you’re struggling, man. You have to push. The ground ball that way, guy rushed it good, made a strong throw, so, you know, I thought you had to send him. They had to make a throw to stop it.”
Burger took matters into his own hands in the fifth with a solo home run to left, making it 3-1.
Adam Engel smoked a one-hopper that Simmons, the Cubs shortstop, couldn’t handle and turned it into a double. But Keegan Thompson got Anderson to ground out to third, and Josh Harrison to fly out to right to minimize the damage.
Thompson (5-0) allowed one run on five hits with four strikeouts and a walk while matching a career high with five innings in his third start of the season.
“I feel like I was kind of all over the place and not really hitting a ton of spots,” he said. “I just got really lucky. I think they missed some pitches in the strike zone. I just didn’t hit a ton of spots and got away with a couple of poor pitches.”
He said that getting through the outing when his stuff wasn’t working well served as a “huge confidence boost.”
“Because then when you’re hitting spots and doing what you’re supposed to be doing, then you feel like it’s going even better,” Thompson said. “So I just got lucky tonight.”
Wisdom and Schwindel helped add runs in the seventh. Batting with the bases loaded, Wisdom hit a grounder deep in the hole between second and short. Anderson made a nice backhanded stop and threw to second for a force. Wisdom beat Harrison’s throw to first and a run scored.
Schwindel followed with an RBI single to right, stretching the lead to 5-1 and ending Cueto’s outing.
“The way (manager David) Ross designs a lineup, it’s fun because there’s some thump and then there’s a lot of contact too,” Wisdom said. “If one of us doesn’t get it done, the guy behind is picking you up. It’s a lot of fun and takes some of the pressure off, too, knowing that you’ve got guys behind you that can drive him in too.”
Cueto (0-1) — who entered Saturday with 12 consecutive scoreless innings since the Sox purchased his contract from Triple-A Charlotte on May 16 — allowed five runs on nine hits with two strikeouts and three walks in 6⅔ innings.
“They attacked right in the first inning,” La Russa said. “It was that one bloop that hurt. But he settled down and did a really good job. Best part of the game was at the end we prevented a lot of runs from scoring with a lot of really good defense. Shows me we were still competing, which I like a lot.”
The Sox came up empty after another scoring chance in the seventh. Burger and Engel had back-to-back singles with one out. But Rowan Wick enduced Anderson to ground into a double play.
The Sox went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring positon and fell one game under .500 at 22-23.
“You’re going to feel pressure no matter what, in terms of ‘Oh, we’ve only scored one run’ or it’s a zero or whatever it may be,” Burger said. “We all have the utmost confidence in each other. That’s just how we look at it.
“Every time any of us step in the box, we think all of us are going to do damage. Just stick with each other and we’ll get through it.”