Jesse Scholtens was ready to be the next pitcher up.
With Mike Clevinger on the injured list, Scholtens joined the Chicago White Sox from Triple-A Charlotte. He entered Monday’s game against the Cleveland Guardians after opener Jimmy Lambert pitched a scoreless first, and Scholtens allowed one run in five innings.
“Just tried to get myself ready and execute as many pitches until they told me to stop, and that’s what I did,” Scholtens said. “There were some times — a lot of the times — I was behind, but (catcher Yasmani Grandal) hung with me a little bit and helped get me back in some at-bats and helped me get through those innings.”
Unfortunately for the Sox, the offense couldn’t get much going against Hunter Gaddis in a 3-0 loss in front of 13,878 at Progressive Field.
Gaddis, who entered the game with a 6.86 ERA, and four relievers limited the Sox to three hits — singles by Luis Robert Jr. and Andrew Vaughn and a double by Andrew Benintendi.
“(Gaddis) pitched up in the zone,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “He pitched in. He might have had a little bit of a cutter that he pitched in to lefties well, especially behind in the count.
“I think we were 0-for-17 with two strikes. That’s something we have to address and talk about.”
The Guardians had only four hits as both teams pitched well.
The reliever Lambert served as the opener, allowing one hit and a walk in a scoreless first. Then came Scholtens, who appeared in two games for the Sox in April.
“Definitely helped me having that experience of ‘OK, this isn’t my first time up here,’” he said. “I’m up here to do a job now and just try to do that the best I could.”
He allowed two hits with one strikeout and two walks.
“He pounded the strike zone and made some good pitches when he needed to,” Grifol said. “He made some good pitches behind in the count too. He’s calm, he’s got a nice mix. He threw some good breaking balls, but that’s not the best I’ve seen his curveball and his curveball is a good pitch for him.
“He did a nice job for us. He’s a good guy to have around, especially in the minor leagues in case something like this happens. He can pitch a little bit.”
The run came on a wild pitch in the second.
Scholtens got out of a jam in the third when Benintendi made a running catch in left and the Sox doubled up Steven Kwan at second.
Kwan reached third with two outs in the sixth, and Scholtens struck out Josh Bell to end the inning and his night.
“That was huge,” Scholtens said. “(Grandal) worked that at-bat great the way he was calling pitches, and it came down to executing some pitches and we were able to execute there. It was a big out to help give us a chance.”
But the Sox couldn’t get to Gaddis, who allowed two hits, struck out four and walked one in six innings in his sixth appearance (fifth start) of the season.
“He wasn’t really missing too much over the plate,” Sox second baseman Romy Gonzalez said. “He was hitting his corners and mixing in all his pitches.”
Their best chance against Gaddis came in the fourth when Benintendi doubled with one out. Yoán Moncada got hit by a pitch with two outs, but the Sox came up empty when Gavin Sheets popped out to second baseman Andrés Giménez.
The Sox threatened against the Guardians bullpen with one out in the seventh when Clint Frazier walked and Andrew Vaughn singled against reliever Sam Hentges. The lefty struck out Grandal, and Nick Sandlin got Jake Burger to line out softly to Giménez.
“We had a chance in the fourth, then in the seventh another shot, and couldn’t get anything done,” Grifol said.
Mike Zunino dealt the Sox a blow in the seventh with a two-run homer against Gregory Santos, who had taken over for lefty Garrett Crochet, to extend the lead to 3-0. The Guardians catcher was 1-for-31 in May heading into that at-bat.
“We felt it was a really good matchup for Santos,” Grifol said. “Zunino does really well against lefties. Crochet is not your typical lefty. But again, if you have a guy like Santos coming in, throwing 98-100 (mph) with a good slider that he throws for strikes, we like that matchup really well. We didn’t map it out like it was an automatic, but we had him ready for that AB if we felt we needed it.
“Once (Gabriel) Arias got to second base and he was in scoring position, we felt it was a good time to bring in Santos and try to preserve that run right there.”
The Sox (19-30) saw their three-game winning streak end. But for Scholtens, it was an outing to build on.
“I’m ready to pitch whenever, however they need me to,” he said. “Whatever they need me to do, I’ll be ready to fulfill that role.
“Just staying where my feet are. If I’m in Charlotte, just continuing to improve and find ways to get better down there. And if I’m called upon to help out up here, just coming in and executing pitches the best I can for as long as I can.”