The only reason the White Sox are still in first place is because the Orioles beat Cleveland. Friday night featured a parabolic emotional arc from misery to ecstasy and then humiliating impotent rage as the White Sox have now gone 4-12 in their last sixteen games after blowing a four-run lead they held going into the seventh.
1. The Royals had a rainout Thursday to mull over the news that they would be without Mike Moustakas for the rest of the season, meaning that two of their four best position players were sent to the DL due to a single foul ball.
As a result, 33 percent of their lineup – Whit Merrifield
, Cheslor Cuthbert
, and Brett Eibner
– sound more like lecherous butlers in a lazily executed Downton Abbey knockoff than baseball players. Despite that, and running out two glove-first 4th outfielders in left and
right, the Royals generated seven runs on thirteen hits.
“It’s like things are in the world…Hopes fail. An end comes. We are lost in ruin and downfall and there is no escape.”
2. The Royals did so even though Miguel Gonzalez
had his second consecutive strong outing. Gonzalez pitched 6.1 innings with five strikeouts against zero walks and three runs allowed — although frankly, he should have been pulled at six, as he was left in to allow a hard-hit one-out double who would come around to score on the bullpen.
Gonzalez got unlucky on some very weak contact–if you say Those Words that Hawk says all the time I will quit, I swear–but largely pitched around it, grabbing strikes early in counts with offspeed pitches, exploiting Kansas City’s aggressive approach, and busting his 91-93mph offerings in on the hands.
3. Gonzalez was also ahead 5-1 to start the bottom of the sixth, which seemed extremely unlikely for a long time, because Danny Duffy
retired the first 16 (!!) batters he faced before the wheels came off. To his credit, Duffy legitimately looked as good as his results, as he was sitting 95-96 comfortably with a really mean change up to go along with it.
However, once Avisail Garcia
tagged him for a single, the White Sox strung together four more hits in a row, culminating in Melky Cabrera
‘s grand slam and Todd Frazier
‘s subsequent solo shot to grab a four-run lead. It wouldn’t last long.
4. A popular narrative is that Robin Ventura came in and saved the organization from the Ozzie Drama that had crippled it for several years, and that he contributed to the “success” of 2012–humiliatingly, the best season they’ve had in a decade. Even as 2012 was happening, though, even when they were in first place, long before September, I was extremely concerned. He had zero experience, and apparently had even argued against taking the job. No search process was engaged in at all, and his lack of experience was exacerbated by the absence of anything resembling strategic curiosity.
Early on, April 25 to be exact, he had the White Sox try to bunt six times against Oakland, to the point where my fiancée–who had probably watched 10 minutes of baseball her whole life at that point–asked, “Why do they keep doing that thing where they don’t swing? It doesn’t seem to work.”*
The 2012 team was a roster of veteran players who probably didn’t need much help in the clubhouse. They probably just needed a guy who could put them in optimal positions to succeed and stay out of their way. Instead they got a nice guy who was visibly unprepared tactically, and they lost the division by three games, while underperforming their run differential, also by three games.
Tonight, the man who brought you the first and only bunt attempt in Kevin Youkilis
‘ career made another memorable entry in his curious managerial record.
Despite having his entire bullpen — eight
relievers for reasons I still cannot understand — available after an unscheduled day off, Ventura let Miguel Gonzalez back out to start the seventh inning. When he gave up a double to a 27-year old playing in his major league debut after his third go ’round in the PCL, instead of turning to his best relievers, he brought in Dan Jennings
. Jennings walked Jarrod–career .214/.290/.250 hitter vs. lefties–Dyson
. Then Ventura turned to Matt Albers
, who generated some weak grounders but could not replicate his early-season luck. When all was said and done, Ventura used three pitchers to get one out, including bringing in Zach Duke
to face Eric Hosmer
, who promptly drove in the tying and go-ahead runs.
Only after the lead was gone did Ventura respond like a crisis may be brewing and bring in Nate Jones
, once they were behind with Kelvin Herrera
and Wade Davis
waiting. David Robertson
is making $11 million this year and has an ERA under 1.00, but he has appeared in three games since May 9th and two of them have managed to be back-to-back.
There were some umpiring misfires throughout the game as well, but I’m going to go ahead and focus on the things the White Sox can control. Like how they deploy their own players.
5. Regardless of how Ventura chooses to utilize it, however, this team just doesn’t have enough talent. Jerry Sands
hit sixth today. It is almost June and Sands has struck out in over 40% of his plate appearances. Sands had never made an Opening Day roster before this year and he’s 28. Sands’ only articulable talent is “hitting lefties” and Duffy merrily blew him away — he struck out two out of three PAs again Friday.
And somehow, Jerry Sands is not even the first position player on the chopping block, because for some reason they are still using thirteen pitchers on the roster, even though there was a rainout on Thursday and the doubleheader was four days ago and was hardly taxing on the relievers. Their bench is three guys — Sands, Tyler Saladino
, and Alex Avila
Even if they added a bat–which they haven’t all year, unless you count calling up Carlos Sanchez
for a minute and various waiver-bait catchers called up due to injury–Sands would still be on the roster. I understand that this is just one game, but this is an organization that refused to make meaningful additions this winter even though it was screamingly obvious that they needed to. This is an organization that somehow leapt out to a 17-8 start while the Twins imploded in breathtaking fashion and a myriad of All-Stars on division rivals hit the DL, and yet they are running Sands AND Garcia out in the same lineup while all of the gains they made evaporate around them. And that’s on top of punting any offense from center and shortstop whatsoever.
Forgive me if I wait until they actually do something to improve before I just assume that they will.
The White Sox are 6-0 against Minnesota and 21-22 against everybody else.
Next game is Saturday at 1:15pm CT on WGN at Kansas City
Lead Image Credit: John Rieger // USA Today Sports Images