Given how comprehensively the White Sox have failed for a month straight now, it comes as no surprise that they have figured out a different style of impotently collapsing for each division rival. After they helped vault Kansas City into first with three straight bullpen meltdowns of biblical proportions, they decided this three-game set against the Tigers should have its own character. Each featured a good beginning by the White Sox starter, only to have it gradually fade, usually in tandem with the offense blowing fantastic scoring opportunities. Then the game would be firmly salted away as the starter would get tagged trying to get through the sixth or seventh inning, and maybe the back of the bullpen would let it get out of reach for good measure.
They lost all three in both series and now sit at 29-28 after starting 23-10.
1. Jose Quintana was staked with a lead before he took the mound, as Jose Abreu hit his first home run since May 17th — and it was not a cheap one, either. It wasn’t pulled, but he did hit it more than 420 feet to basically dead center, so I am going to flag this one as a success.
2. There were familiar features to this series, though. Strong offensive production from the opposing team’s offensively challenged catchers (Drew Butera, Rene Rivera, and now James McCann have completely destroyed the White Sox for the past 10 days or so). Victor Martinez was lethal. Ventura even got an intentional walk in for good measure! Ventura loves to intentionally walk people. I cannot recall a single time where it has worked. It did not work today.
3. The Tigers’ offense is legitimately good, and Quintana is entitled to have off days now and again. However, the White Sox were fortunate enough to have Brad Ausmus afflicted with the same disease as Robin where he thinks you are legally required to put one of your worst hitters in the two slot. Cameron Maybin — career .257 TAv and .317 OBP — gave the White Sox a weak hitter to attack ahead of the murderer’s row of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez. But for some reason Quintana pitched him extremely carefully, throwing him an inordinate amount of pitches and walking him once. One is left to speculate as to whether this is just a blip or whether the White Sox, who have justified making moves based on seven PA sample sizes as recently as a few weeks ago, think Maybin’s obvious small sample, BABIP-luck-fueled .418 average coming into Sunday was real. They certainly acted like it.
4. All of this is kind of moot, because with Melky Cabrera away for a family emergency, the White Sox’ utter lack of depth on offense has been left to wither and perish as it is exposed to intense sunlight i.e. mediocrities like 2016 Justin Verlander and Mike Pelfrey. Adding James Shields should help address a lot of their major issues, but they have also now lost eight straight games started by Quintana and Chris Sale and counting on Tyler Saladino to save the offense is the stuff of 2013, not the stuff of “we’re contending this year, we swear.”
They had scoring opportunities, but…
Look, I don’t blame Ventura for not having enough bats. When you have basically three good options at the plate right now there isn’t much you can do. This is the result of being unable to develop even a league average position player (and identify it and not trade him away) for almost 20 years paired with absolutely refusing to use money to help fix your problems. But one of the things you can do is not put Jason Coats — still awaiting his first major league hit, who took two months to prove to you that he was good enough to play for a team that gives regular playing time to Avisail Garcia* and Jerry Sands, and it took an injury to get him up at that — second in the order. He struck out with runners on second and third and helped to kill one rally, hilariously overmatched chasing high heat out of the zone.
The reason people complain about managerial decisions so much is because it’s really hard to just conjure up additional major league talent. It is not hard to get the things you can control right. This should be easy. It is increasingly difficult to identify anything that Ventura does well. The nebulous arguments of, “Well, he keeps the team together” or “he’s good in the clubhouse” ring more and more hollow when the team looks like Sideshow Bob in a field of rakes for half a decade. If he doesn’t help players perform to the best of their abilities and he can’t learn from his own stupid mistakes, count me baffled as to what he brings to the table.
*Garcia went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts while looking absolutely horrible in the outfield, since the absence of Cabrera and Austin Jackson has necessitated he go out and murder the team on two sides of the ball again. His OPS is back below .700 and he’s .002 points away from having an OBP under .300 again as well.
The White Sox would start one inning with runners on second and third and none out, and also had the miracle of a Jimmy Rollins double to lead off another inning and they didn’t score then either. Rollins is a 37-year old who has had his job handily taken away from him by a utility infielder, and he is the DH.
5. Todd Frazier hit his 18th home run (the team has 52 total now). He remains the best hitter on the team thus far, and acquiring Frazier is obviously not the problem this year. Leave it to the perverse torture that is being a White Sox fan for people to be considering this possibility.
Team Record: 29-28
Lead Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports