We don’t know everything the manager knows. It’s a reminder we always have to give ourselves whenever we feel too certain that we have caught the professionals in an egregious error.
1. But what datapoint could be much more certain than Jerry Sands being a career .198/.283/.283 hitter vs. right-handed pitching. It’s clear as day. He’s a quad-A outfielder with decent pop but without the bat speed/recognition to deal with same-handed velocity. There’s a ton of these guys, and logic and numbers, and Phil Hughes blowing him away without effort his first two times up.
But now we all live in and have to ponder an existence where Sands reached out and pounded a slider out to dead center for a two-run blow in the seventh inning of the Sox third-straight victory.
Life is a relentlessly baffling mystery but sometimes it’s for the best.
(Sands struck out in his three other plate appearances)
2. After six shutout innings Wednesday night, Carlos Rodon has allowed just one run over 13 innings of work, and his best work still eludes him. He had a vaporizing, wipeout slider that he used for six strikeouts, including particularly gruesome abuses of left-handed Twins rookie Max Kepler, the last of which helped him escape a sixth-inning jam unscathed. Good movement on his fastball and the cold Minnesota air allowed him to pitch over five walks, some of which might have been prompted by a tighter than necessary strike zone. He’s at 10-straight quality starts, and is real, real good at this game.
3. Hughes doesn’t do a lot of mind-boggling stuff on the mound. He makes his living–and has found such a perfect home in Minnesota–by throwing strikes. Tons of them. With everything. Not overwhelming strikes, he mostly sits 90-93 mph and has a starkly below-average strikeout rate.
With that in mind, Hughes vaporizing the Sox lineup, cruising into the fourth before allowing a hit and striking out seven of the first 17 hitters he faced was a source of well-earned aggravation. He’s never going to be someone hitters will need to wait out to find something to cut on, but when a failure to drive anything is combined with Hughes coasting along at 10 pitches an inning, it looks like a clinic.
4. Worse yet, the White Sox made the least of the early major scoring opportunities they finally created. Melky Cabrera led off the fifth with a single and was doubled over to third by a suddenly lively Brett Lawrie, but they were both stranded when Hughes filleted through Sands and Alex Avila, and got Austin Jackson to beat one into the ground for the final out. Comparatively, a first-and-third situation with no outs and Jose Abreu at the plate resulting an RBI double play the next inning was a large upgrade.
Lead Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn // USA Today Sports Images