Okay, so some things happened in this game that made sense. Todd Frazier hit a home run. Jose Quintana got a No Decision. Robin Ventura intentionally walked David Ortiz. Adam Eaton made some nice plays in the outfield and had quality at bats. You’re all with me so far, right?
Good, because the rest of this was bonkers. Three hours and thirty-eight minutes of ultimately satisfying chaos.
1. This was the worst I can recall seeing Quintana’s control. The Red Sox’ lineup is really good, so it’s understandable that he would want to proceed with caution. That said, six walks is an insane amount of walks to give up, especially when three (!) of them are to Sandy Leon (!!), he of the career .285 OBP in both the minors and the majors combined coming into tonight.
Quintana also had some misfortune with grounders finding holes, but when you walk Sandy Leon three times out of three plate appearances it is hard to complain about luck. Especially when Dioner Navarro picked Leon off of third base with nobody out after one of those walks.
2. Right, so Quintana walked six batters when he hadn’t walked more than three all season. Pretty weird, but it gets weirder–the offense repeatedly picked him up. After blowing a 2-0 lead, the White Sox would rally from two different two-run deficits to wind up winning.
I know. I’m scared too.
3. Robin Ventura had predicted Jason Coats would get his first major league hit of his career, and he was correct. On the first pitch he saw, Coats scorched a ground rule double to opposite field. Aside from his rare bravado, however glib it may have been, Ventura had a really good game! With Nate Jones and David Robertson off limits, as they had both pitched the last three days straight, the White Sox were forced to get creative with their bullpen usage when all of a sudden they had late 1 and 2-run leads to protect.
Ventura turned to Michael Ynoa for the 8th and his faith in the rookie was rewarded. Ynoa was pumping mid-90s heat and some usable-looking offspeed stuff, and he appeared as though he had some idea of how to put it on the corners or just off of them. It wasn’t without stress, however, as he allowed two baserunners and somehow managed back-to-back home run review replays. Xander Bogaerts crushed an offering off the very top of the Green Monster, but after much deliberation it was ruled a double. Ventura then IBBed David Ortiz. I think Ventura is a bit overzealous with his IBBs generally, but I totally get this one, as Ortiz is terrifying and it set up a match up with Chris Young who has very real problems with right handers.
That didn’t stop Young from blasting an almost-homer just foul, nor did it stop Ynoa from striking him out to end the inning.
Zach Duke got the 9th and pitched around a leadoff single for the win. Thus far Duke is looking much more like the reliever the White Sox hoped they were getting in the 2014-2015 offseason.
In a way, Ventura didn’t have a ton of decisions to make given how limited his options were, but he didn’t call for any bunts, and he deployed his depleted bullpen about as well as you could hope, given the circumstances.
4. I spent most of the game fuming over how incompetent the offense looked against Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez throws some serious heat from the left side, but having started the sentence that way I have already exhausted 100% of his strengths as a pitcher. He threw almost exclusively fastballs, and on the rare occasions when he threw his weird pseudo-change he clearly had no idea where it would go or why he was using it.
That didn’t stop the White Sox from looking completely helpless against him for three or four innings at a time, with awkward check swings, chasing pitches way out of the zone, or getting blown away right down the middle. Remember–this is on all fastballs. They were thrown the same pitch over and over and over again and for the most part looked completely baffled. They scored eight runs, four after Rodriguez departed, but this offense is still pretty far from inspiring confidence.
5. Fortunately, they made the most of the hits they got, converting their ten hits, two walks, and two hit batsmen into eight runs, and pouncing on the bullpen once Rodriguez finally left. Melky Cabrera had a phenomenal game, going 4/5 with a homer to erase a 6-4 deficit, and a single to push the lead to 8-6.
Brett Lawrie and Todd Frazier each had very well-timed home runs of their own, although those were the only times they would reach base safely all game. Jose Abreu looked really, really terrible, twice striking out on pitches up around his eyes. Maybe it’s as simple as having an off night or not seeing Rodriguez very well, for whatever reason, but it was not pretty and he got stung by a 95 mph fastball to the thigh for his troubles. Tim Anderson went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts even though I really thought he’d finally get a walk a few times today.
The game was sheer insanity with plenty of ups and downs, but the White Sox have now won three in a row for the first time since May 9th and are back up to .500. The Indians keep winning, but hey, baby steps.