Chicago White Sox utility man Danny Mendick has played second base, shortstop, left field and third base this season.
At the moment, he is filling in for injured shortstop Tim Anderson, and the White Sox are happy to have his bat available heading into the rubber game of a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Mendick came through in a big way in Chicago’s 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Saturday.
The 28-year-old Rochester, N.Y., native drove in Chicago’s first run with an eighth-inning single, then scored on pinch hitter Jake Burger’s home run as the White Sox rallied from a 2-0 deficit to break a four-game losing streak.
“We needed a win, but 10-0 would have been nice,” Chicago’s 77-year-old manager Tony La Russa said. “I’m convinced they mess with me just to age me.”
Mendick went 2-for-3 on Saturday, his fourth multi-hit game in five contests while filling in for Anderson. He is 8-for-16 with three RBIs in that span, raising his season average to .333.
Chicago could use continued production from Mendick because other options aren’t coming through. Catcher Yasmani Grandal has a .160 batting average and third baseman Yoan Moncada is hitting .135.
Throw in the fact that outfielder Luis Robert still isn’t at full strength after coming off the COVID-19 list and it’s easy to see why the White Sox had lost six of their past seven before Saturday.
When La Russa handed in the lineup card Saturday, he had five starters with batting averages below .210. The White Sox were shut out for the first seven innings by Drew Rasmussen, but they rallied against the Tampa Bay bullpen for the victory.
“It was exactly the same game we’ve played the whole road trip, but we won this one,” La Russa said. “I told Burger he was never going to start again, just be a pinch hitter. He’s got a flair, doesn’t he? When he hits them, they’re big, important ones. This one was big.”
The Rays will look to bounce back on Sunday behind Ryan Yarbrough (0-2, 4.00 ERA). In three career games (two starts) against the White Sox, the left-hander has no decisions and a 5.09 ERA.
Yarbrough is coming off his longest outing of the season, though he emerged with a loss on Tuesday at Texas. He limited the Rangers to three runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out three without issuing a walk. He served up homers to Corey Seager and Adolis Garcia.
Tampa Bay has used 11 starting pitchers, and the bullpen has had to go 236 1/3 innings, the second-highest total in the majors.
“We’ve got to do more to protect our pitching staff and try to get more out of them,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We need to have our starters go longer and give the bullpen some rest.”
A little more offense might help Tampa Bay, too. In the past 10 games, the Rays have scored three or fewer runs six times.
The White Sox will start Lucas Giolito (3-2, 3.61 ERA) on Sunday. In five career starts against the Rays, the veteran right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.14 ERA.
Giolito endured his worst outing of the season on Tuesday, when he yielded six runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays.
–Field Level Media