When Liam Hendriks entered the game with a 3-0 lead in the ninth inning there was more than his fifth save at stake. A curse needed to be broken.
Heading into Monday’s game against the Angels the White Sox had yet to win a game while wearing their black City Connect jerseys. These sleek black uniforms created a ton of buzz when they were first released by Nike. Fans and players alike raved about the new look. Unfortunately, success in the South Side uniforms has been hard to come by. For some players it was personal.
April 19th was Liam Hendriks bobblehead day at the ballpark. Fans flocked the gates to try and secure a mini-figure of their favorite screaming Australian closer. One of the few people complaining about the bobblehead was Hendriks himself.
“It was really funny, he was upset when he saw the mock-up of it in the spring, he didn’t like a few of the things about it,” Lucas Giolito said on the Chris Rose Rotation podcast. “The uniform. He’s never worn that uniform he said. Like I guess the games we have played in that uniform he’s never played in.”
Hendriks had never pitched in that uniform because he was never presented a save opportunity.
“We gotta break the curse with the Southside uniform this year,” Giolito continued.
Hendriks was finally given an opportunity to lock down a save while wearing the City Connect uniform on Monday. He did not mess around. Hendriks struck out the side, by getting Taylor Ward and Brandon Marsh to go down swinging. He then capped off his performance by getting Mike Trout to watch as an 89 mph slider clipped the bottom of the strike zone for the final out of the game.
In the process he recorded his fifth save and finally made his bobblehead accurate.
Dylan Cease was the star of the show, putting together his best start of the season to date. The right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings and only allowed one hit. He also struck out 11 batters, including Mike Trout three times. It was just the seventh time in Mike Trout’s career that he had struck out four times in a game. It also happened to be the second time against the White Sox. The first came back on July 2nd, 2014 when John Danks was the starting pitcher.
Cease was surgical in carving up the Angels. His first four strikeouts each came on a different pitch from his repertoire. He caught Taylor Ward looking at a slider, Mike Trout swinging on a fastball, Kurt Suzuki chasing a curveball, and Tyler Wade looking at a changeup.
After that Cease began to work backward dishing out a handful of curveballs to set up his fastball. His next six strikeouts all came via the fastball including a 98 mph heater that Mike Trout fanned on
The offense didn’t need to do much. They scored two in the first inning off an AJ Pollock RBI groundout and a Jake Burger sacrifice fly. That was more than enough support for Cease. Adam Engel tacked on an RBI double in the sixth inning for a third insurance run.
Luis Robert carried the bulk of the offensive load. He recorded three of the White Sox’s seven hits and scored a run.
With the victory, the White Sox improved to 9-13 as they slowly creep back towards .500.