“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and Mat Latos getting the early hook.”
– Benjamin Franklin
After a day off Monday the Chicago White Sox opened up a nine-game homestand with the first of three against the Washington Nationals. What transpired was an exceptionally sloppy affair in the midst of a stretch of already impressive sloppiness that has dragged the Pale Hose back to a .500 winning percentage.
1. A back and forth night saw the Sox jump on an early lead in the first courtesy of a three-walk inning from Nats’ starter Joe Ross. Not to be outdone, Latos allowed two free passes in the top of the second and both thos walks would score, tying things up. The Sox came right back with three runs in the bottom half of the frame courtesy of a Jose Abreu sacrifice fly and a bomb to center off a 3-0 count from the Todd Father, bringing the score to 5-2.
It would be a short-lived lead. The Nationals plated two in the fourth off an Anthony Rendon home run and another two in the fifth after Dan Jennings was brought in to get the lefty-lefty advantage against Bryce Harper. You can guess who won that battle.
In the sixth, things truly went off the rails. A Tyler Saladino error followed up by a Tyler Saladino double clutch, on top of a set of walks and a hit-by-pitch saw the Nationals score four to effectively seal the game. It was an ugly stretch from the bullpen as a combination of Jennings, Matt Albers, and Zach Duke gave up 4 H, 2 BB, and 4 R (2 ER plus 2 more inherited runners) in 1.2 innings across the fifth and sixth.
2. Latos was gifted the fifth starter role after the James Shields trade and turned in a typical Latos outing: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, and 1 K. Of those four walks, three would end up scoring. With today’s home run, Latos has now allowed nine in his past seven starts. That is unequivocally poor. Digging deeper and taking into account that he has only pitched 37.2 innings in that stretch, leaves Latos with a 2.18 HR/9 over that time. That is unequivocally awful. With Miguel Gonzalez filling in for a mysteriously achy Carlos Rodon this week, one can’t help but wonder what type of start would force Latos from the rotation. It shouldn’t take much.
3. Robin Ventura continued the theme of curious bullpen decisions. Given a full, rested pen, the White Sox skipper went to Dan Jennings in a tight situation against the reigning NL MVP in the fifth inning. Presumably this is because Jennings has been the “long” man to date. However Jennings would throw only six pitches and face two batters before getting yanked for Matt Albers. By the day’s end, Ventura would use five pitchers to get through nine innings, and only because Matt Purke managed to through three scoreless innings after the game was out of hand. This was a game where having Miguel Gonzalez available would have been nice. Unfortunately we don’t get nice things.
4. It’s not quite Joe Dimaggio, but Jose Abreu now has a four-game hit streak with three multi-hit games. Four games is far too early to call a problem fixed, but Jose is showing signs of progress. He launched his first home run in almost 3 weeks on Sunday and has now clawed his slugging percentage back above .400. His 2-4 day featured a soft line drive for an RBI single in the first and a sharp line-out to third that would have been two bases if not drilled directly at Anthony Rendon. He still looks lost on certain pitches out of the zone, but getting Abreu turned around is essential to fielding a competitive club. Signs of life are much appreciated.
5. And lastly, an early broadcast exchange revealed that Stone grew up singing in a choir. Banal moments like this between Benetti and Stone remind us that things could be worse. We could be listening to Hawk sulk for all 162 games.
Team Record: 29-29
Next game is Wednesday vs. Washington at 8:10pm CT on CSN
Lead Image Credit: Caylor Arnold // USA Today Sports Images