With the second series for the Sox in the books, some familiar trends are starting to take shape. One good pitching start and two not so great ones, combined with a few…interesting lineup decisions resulted in the Sox dropping 2 of 3 to the Tribe. While the end result is the same, this series at least feels far more positive than the previous thwacking at the hands of the Twins. If you squint really hard, I believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We can discuss further IN THE BULLETS
Numbers Don’t Lie
-Let’s get this out of the way right at the top: Nicky Delmonico sucks, and Rick Renteria’s love affair with him is puzzling to the extreme. While I get the desire to mix up the handedness of Sox at bats, in no possible reality is putting him in the cleanup spot an acceptable setup. I don’t care if it’s the 3rd game of a triple header, batting him in front of Luis Robert qualifies as coaching High Crimes and Misdemeanors. If you’re worried about his knees, Yasmani Grandal can still DH in that spot instead of Zack Collins and either put Delmonico at 9 or play Adam Engel. Matchups don’t matter when the guy you’re matching with can’t hit the ball out of the infield. Shit, bat Leury Garcia 4th, at least he’s hit a few dingers.
-Phew. Anyways, Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodon continued the new Sox rotation tradition of not being able to command their fastballs and getting the piss hit out of them in the first 3 innings. Walks were an issue particularly for Rodon, who loaded the bases with them in the 4th during game 2. While my initial reaction to their two starts was a calm and predictable “FUCKING COOP IS TRASH FIRE HIM AND MAKE ONEY GUILLEN PITCHING COACH,” after watching Lucas Giolito pull himself together in his start last night I retract my previous outburst. This season is weird, and a 3 week wind up for pitchers is clearly not enough to get younger starters ready. If Cease and Rodon struggle again with their command in the next starts they have we can revisit. For now I’m willing to chalk it up to rust.
-The Sox bullpen, on the other hand, was nails in this series. Evan Marshall in particular has been pretty much unhittable thus far, and his breaking pitches have “shit yourself” quality. Aaron Bummer even had a good night on Wednesday, vulturing the win after pitching a scoreless 8th. Colome made it interesting in the 9th, but eventually locked down his first save of the new season. More of this, please.
-In true Sox fashion however, we can’t continue to just have nice things in the bullpen. Jimmy Lambert went on the 10 day IL with a “forearm strain,” which for someone returning from Tommy John surgery is never a good thing to hear. Hopefully it really IS just a strain and not a herald of something much much worse.
-While looking at the box scores it would seem that the Sox bats failed against some less than quality pitching, the Indians D had something to do with it as well. Oscar Mercado absolutely robbed Zack Collins of what should have been an RBI triple in the 8th inning of game 2. The Sox also threatened in the 9th in both games of the double header, falling just short. I’m not super concerned about the offense…yet.
-Being 2-4 after the first two series is less than optimal, but looking around the league you can see that shit is super weird right now. The Giants took 2 of 4 with the Dodgers, the Tigers are 4-2 and the fucking Orioles (the team actively trying to get worse) is .500. Yes, 60 games is very short and you can’t fall too far behind but I’m not convinced what we’re seeing around the league at this moment is genuinely how it’s gonna go the entire season. If we even get to finish a whole season, which is questionable at best.
-Next up is the exactly what the doctor ordered, the Royals. With the potential debut of Nomar Mazara sending Delmonico back to the utility role where he belongs combined with Dallas Keuchel taking the bump, Friday SHOULD go a long way in putting some perspective on the first 6 games. If we’re in the same spot Sunday as we are today…the panic button may have to be smushed.