White Sox Fall Again, Rienzo Shines in Debut, and What it Means

Your Chicago White Sox dropped their fifth straight game and have now lost eight of their last nine contests overall, but the story line to focus on, for once, is actually positive.

Twenty five year-old prospect Andre Rienzo got the call-up to start in place of Jake Peavy. With the start in Cleveland, he became the first Brazilian pitcher to ever appear in an MLB game. And he even faced Yan Gomes, who’s the first ever Brazilian player in the bigs.

Rienzo, like the White Sox offense, started off very strong. He let up two hits, but faced just one more than the minimum through the first four frames.

But then….the White Sox happened.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Rienzo issued a dreaded leadoff walk to Michael Brantley. But as it appeared he did a nice job to retire Carlos Santana, Alexei Ramirez committed an error to keep the rally going. Andre struck out Jason Giambi before a Lonnie Chisenhall single and a bases loaded-walk to Yan Gomes scored the Tribe’s first run.

The speedy Michael Bourn then grounded to first baseman Adam Dunn, who decided to go to second base and try to double up Bourn instead of going home with the ball for the force out. Bourn stepped on Rienzo’s foot/heel as the play got to first base, and the rookie pitcher was shaken up. Oh, and the game was now tied at three runs apiece.

But he showed the determination and bulldog-nature (I guess this is going to be a thing) that everyone’s been raving about on Twitter by staying in the game – and going on to redeem himself and his ball club.

Rienzo got through the sixth and seventh innings with some ease, picking up his first career quality start and becoming the first White Sox starting pitcher to let up no earned runs in his major league debut while going 7+ innings since “Blackjack” McDowell in 1987.

Donnie Veal and Matt Lindstrom combined to let up four runs to the Indians in the eighth inning, spoiling Rienzo’s chance of a win in his debut. But, since the game doesn’t matter in the standings (for us, at least), I figure we all deserve to focus on the promise that tonight’s game brought.

So, what exactly does this start mean?

1)     Rienzo has a GREAT chance to stay in the rotation with the Jake Peavy trade. He’s 25 years old already and seems to (of late) hit his ceiling in AAA. You may as well see how he responds on a consistent basis to the demands of the big leagues.

2)     It’s a good indication that competition for a spot in the White Sox rotation for the future will continue to be at a high level. With Chris Sale, Hector Santiago, Jose Quintana, and hopefully Erik Johnson being pitchers of the franchises’ future, not to mention John Danks still under contract for a couple more years, it’s not going to be easy for anybody, even those with well-established MLB resumes to stay there. If somebody else looks like they’re going to help the team win more, it’ll be their turn – no questions asked.

3)     Finally, I think Rienzo’s start should remind us that with as horrid as this 2013 season has been for all in and around the White Sox’ organization, watching youngsters come up and test the waters is something that can be very enjoyable and rewarding. So stick with us and look forward to that, south side faithful … you won’t regret it.

Zachary Gropper

About Zachary Gropper

Zach is the Managing Editor of GrabSomeBench.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @zmgrop.