By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — “Watch out!” could’ve been the White Sox’s battle cry during their 7-2 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Tuesday afternoon. In the setback, White Sox batters were hit four times by Cubs right-hander John Lackey.
After hitting White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu earlier in the game, Lackey again hit Abreu and then Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada in the fifth inning to load the bases. His command issues caused White Sox manager Rick Renteria to ask home plate umpire Lance Barksdale how he perceived the situation after Moncada was hit on the wrist.
“He did not believe that was done on purpose,” Renteria said of Barksdale’s explanation to him. “He just thought it was a pitch that got away.”
Abreu getting hit twice was a red flag for the White Sox, who retaliated by having reliever Chris Beck hit Ian Happ with his second pitch of the fifth inning. That drew a warning for both sides from Barksdale, and there were no incidents after that.
Lackey went five-plus innings, allowing two runs, both earned. He personally escaped retribution when he grounded out in the fifth inning as the White Sox pitched him normally.
The four hit batters was a career-high for Lackey and the first time a Cubs pitcher recorded such a line since Moe Drabowsky on June 2, 1957.
“You see Abreu gets hit twice, it doesn’t look good,” Davidson said. “But he really did not have command inside all day. I don’t think you are trying to hit three guys in a row.”
The White Sox were resolute about not over-reacting to the four hit by pitches. At the same time, you could tell they weren’t pleased with the circumstances that occurred.
“You would have to ask the other side if it was on purpose or not,” Renteria said when pressed on the Abreu plunkings. “At the end of the day, everything was taken care of between the lines. It’s over.”
The Cubs downplayed the hit batters, with manager Joe Maddon and Lackey saying you must pitch inside against good hitters. They each emphasized the hit by pitches were unintentional.
Abreu was stoic with his responses.
“Getting hit by pitches are a part of the game,” Abreu said. “At the end of the day, you have to ask the pitcher that. I think everyone knows what is happening. This is baseball and as I said at the end of the day, you must ask the pitcher.
“Tomorrow is another game. We must keep our focus on the next game .Probably around baseball, you will be hearing a few things. We have to keep our mind and focus on the game.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.