Caldwell Earns 16th with 4-0 Win over Chisox

The question on everyone’s minds prior to last night’s AL match-up between Milwaukee and Chicago at Comiskey Park was a simple one: would the 15-4 Mike Caldwell cruise to victory as expected over the 3-13 Ken Kravec, or would the Sox southpaw turn the tables on the powerhouse Brewers and surprise naysayers with a blindside win? Unfortunately for the South Side faithful, there would be no upset in the making, as Caldwell fired a 7-hit shutout at the Chisox for an impressive 4-0 decision.

For Caldwell, it was his sixteenth win of the season, leading both the AL and NL in that category, and solidified his position alongside New York pitching machine Ron Guidry and Texas ace Jon Matlack as the league’s most dominating pitchers. So far this month, Caldwell has delivered three shutouts, and has allowed just one run in his four starts; with Monday night’s performance, his ERA for the year has dropped to a stellar 1.31.

MIL - Mike Caldwell

“I don’t know what it is,” Caldwell told Brewers radio affiliate WTMJ after the game. “Everything’s just falling into place this season.”

And fell into place it did against the White Sox last night, as Caldwell pitched effortlessly throughout most of his nine-inning stint, finally allowing his first baserunner after three perfect innings when Bob Molinaro connected for a solid single in the fourth. Caldwell ran into trouble only twice after that, when Chet Lemon opened the fifth with a double, and when singles from Greg Pryor and Eric Soderholm put two runners on base with only one out in the ninth. Fortunately, Larry Hisle’s pinpoint throw to home nailed Lemon trying to score from second on a base hit, extinguishing that potential rally, and Caldwell helped his own cause in the final frame when he fielded a comebacker from Lemon and initiated a 1-6-3 double play, ending the game.

The Brewers wasted no time in establishing a lead, scoring in the first inning when Sixto Lezcano connected for his 15th HR of the year, a solo shot with two out. Milwaukee would make it a 2-0 game in the fifth on an RBI single from Paul Molitor, and would add another tally two innings later when Molitor, on a steal attempt of second, sprinted home after catcher Bill Nahorodny’s throw sailed into the gap in right-center field.

Forgotten in the wake of Caldwell’s performance was Sox pitcher Kravec, who despite his abysmal won-lost totals pitched a masterful game, allowing just two earned runs over seven innings pitched and never allowing the Brewers to put the game out of reach. After tiring in the eighth and loading the bases on a single and two walks, he surrendered the mound to reliever Lerrin LaGrow, who worked out of the jam and preserved the Sox comeback hopes. However, one inning later LaGrow coughed up Milwaukee’s final run, serving up a fat curve to ninth batter Gorman Thomas, who deposited the pitch just short of the ornate scoreboard in center for his 17th round-tripper of the year and the final nail in the White Sox coffin.

With the victory, the second place Brewers advanced a half-game closer to the AL East-leading Yankees, while the Sox dropped even further into the AL West basement, 26½ games behind the front-running Rangers. The two teams will continue their short 2-game series Tuesday night in Chicago.

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