It’s not like the Sox are world-beaters, or even particularly reliable, or even possess any immunity at all to the occasional–or frequent!–mind-bending letdown. And you can’t just look at starting pitching matchups and call them a win or loss, because there’s so much more going on in game beyond the starting pitchers. But c’mooooooon.
The White Sox had a matchup between Chris Sale (An AL Cy Young favorite before tonight) against…some guy who pitches for the Braves, and mostly got annihilated.
1. In the first inning, Sale threw a low 93 mph fastball on the outer half to Freddie Freeman and got taken out. In the second inning, he split the plate with a 92 mph fastball to Tyler Flowers and got taken out. In the fourth inning, he floated some 90 mph mess in the lefty hitter kill zone to Nick Markakis, and got taken out.
The Atlanta Braves, who came into night with 47 home runs on the season, 25 fewer home runs than the next-to-last team in baseball, blasted Sale and his take-a-penny, leave-a-penny velocity games all over the yard.
Despite all this, he was still working a tie game in the fifth inning, against the Braves, when he let a two out, two on situation devolve into disaster with three-straight doubles to the likes of Jeff Francouer, Flowers and Adonis Garcia to break the game open to 8-4, and gave the Braves a lead they would not yield. It was Sale’s shortest start of the season, and capped off a month and half stretch where he’s not been All-Star worthy, let alone a Cy Young frontrunner.
Since a May 24 loss to Cleveland, this is Sale: 56.2 IP, 65 H, 35 ER, 12 HR, 61K
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) July 9, 2016
2. The Braves and starter Matt Wisler hardly excelled at run prevention. An RBI single by Melky Cabrera knotted the game back at 1-1 in the first, and a rally started with back-to-back doubles by lineup fillers Carlos Sanchez and J.B. Shuck begat a three-run second. After Tim Anderson singled, Wisler egregiously mishandling an Adam Eaton bunt followed by each of them stealing a base, making it seem like the floodgates were about to burst to a wave of Braves incompetence.
Even Sale coughing up the four-run fifth seemed like it could be undone when Eaton and Todd Frazier both lifted solo home runs in the bottom half of the inning. It could not.
3. He wouldn’t be a fair person to square blame on given how Sale faltered, but the scoring difference on the night wound up being the immediate effort to move on from the ace’s disasterpiece with Chris Beck. The right-hander came on for the sixth inning and gave up hard contact and hits to all three batters he faced, and watched Dan Jennings allow both of the runners he inherited from him to score.
Beck aside, the bullpen, sans Nate Jones and David Robertson, delivered four innings of scoreless two-hit ball on a night where the Braves seemed like they couldn’t miss. It’s not like there’s a teeming mass of qualified candidates, but Beck has allowed 12 hits and seven walks over five strikeouts in 6.2 innings after being far from overpowering in Triple-A. Something that shouldn’t work doesn’t appear to be working.
4. The Sox scored eight runs, so they hardly merit a long look at their offensive execution failures, but an Eaton strikeout to end the sixth and strand runners at second and third, and Dioner Navarro whiffing with one out and runners at the corners in the seventh followed by a deep Sanchez flyout loomed large.
Jose Abreu and Cabrera led off the ninth with back-to-back singles to give some excitement that was quickly snuffed out by Frazier bouncing into a double play.
5. Anderson nearly single-handedly turned the White Sox third triple play of the season in the third inning. He snared a Freeman liner on a short hop that tricked Chase d’Arnaud into running back to second and toward Anderson’s tag. Anderson then stomped on second base and threw out Freeman at first to complete the trickery.
Anderson’s quick thinking and footwork provided Sale his only scoreless inning of the night.
Team Record: 44-42
Next game is Saturday at 1:10pm CT vs. Atlanta on WGN
Lead Image Credit: Kim Klement // USA Today Sports Images