Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: A’s 2 – White Sox 5

Game 2: A’s 0 – White Sox 9

Game 3: A’s 2 – White Sox 3

Game 4: A’s 5 – White Sox 4

 

For a four game series against a team that has historically kicked the shit out of the White Sox, this was a very nice change of pace. While the starting pitching didn’t exactly blind us with their brilliance, they did enough to turn it over to a bullpen that suddenly seems to be about as dominant as advertised at the beginning of the season. Combine that with Cleveland pooping all over themselves against the Twins, and you get the Sox with an 11.5 game lead after going 4-3 against the Yankees and A’s. With the Rays and Blue Jays on the horizon before they get a break against the Cubs, another 4-3 stint would be more than welcome, and probably enough to put the last 12 nails in Cleveland’s coffin.

Also: Yasmani Grandal is almost back!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

GAME 1

-Dallas Keuchel started off the game looking like he wanted to be anywhere but on the mound on the South Side, as he gave up a leadoff dinger to Matt Olsen (eh, it happens), plunked Josh Harrison (not great), walked Stephen Piscotty (definitely not great), and then walked someone called “Vimael Machin” to load the bases before giving up a single to Mark Canha and a run scoring fielder’s choice to Starling Marte to spot the A’s to a 2 run lead. After this, however, he shut that shit down and went 5 solid innings before giving the ball to Michael Kopech. Gutsy performance for DK (I can use this now since Duncan Keith told the Hawks to get fucked), and really nothing to complain about out of your 5th starter after it looked like it was going to be an early exit.

-Speaking of Michael Kopech…wow. He looked unhittable in his 2 innings, striking out 3 and walking 1 (only because of the shit strike zone of Ron Kulpa) and generally making the A’s hitters look like they were being attacked by bees. I don’t know if the Sox are going to give him anymore spot starts, but I sure would like to see them.

-If Luis Robert can stay healthy, we could have a perennial MVP on our hands. He’s that good.

-Eloy just keeps plugging along, doing his thing. Knocking in runs and keeping his OPS over 1.0, making pitchers look scared of him. He also didn’t spontaneously combust in the outfield, so aces all around.

-Kimbrel and Hendriks righted the ship in a big way, striking out everyone they faced in their 2 total innings. Sickness.

GAME 2

-First and foremost I can’t say how glad I am that Chris Bassitt escaped any permanent damage after Brain Goodwin absolutely smoked a line drive off his cheekbone in the 2nd inning. Bassitt went down in a heap, with blood pouring out from between his fingers into the dust of the mound. It was horrible to see live, and even worse to hear. I don’t blame the A’s for pretty much packing it in after this.

-Credit to Jake Lamb for cleaning what Andrew Vaughn left for him on the table with a 3-run shot to center field. I don’t know how much longer the Sox are going to have room for him, but he’s certainly been a nice surprise.

-Jose Abreu just keeps doing the thing. Another 3 RBI night for Pito, and though his batting average is lower than one might like he’s still raking when it matters.

-If this is the Reynaldo Lopez we’re getting from here on out, I may be ready to get hurt again. He had some great stuff, and was more efficient than I’ve seen him in a long time. He was still under 70 pitches when he got lifted after the 5th, but I get TLR wanting to protect him from going through the order a 3rd time. Good shit.

-Ryan Burr picked right up where ReyLo left off and looked solid the pair of innings he worked. I like his stuff, and if given a chance think he could be “A Thing”

GAME 3

-Gonna be honest here, I missed most of the game because of Stupid Work™ but I did see the clip of Lance Lynn throwing all his accessories to the umpire after the 4th inning and getting tossed. Boss Level shit right there.

-More quality work out of the bullpen again with Ryan Tepera, Garrett Crochet and Aaron Bummer taking care of business before turning things over to a resurgent Liam Hendriks with 1 out in the 8th inning and a 1 run lead. Hendriks never looked under duress in the 1.2 innings he threw, and his slider had more break on it than in weeks past. I declare him healed.

-Ho Hum, another 3 hit game for Luis Robert. How droll. He did manage to make things interesting in the top of the 7th when the grass disintegrated beneath his feet and he fell to his ass and still almost made the catch.

GAME 4

-Dylan Cease came out a house of fire and mowed some chumps down in the first few innings, then…stopped. He gave up a solo shot to Sean Murphy in the 3rd, which…whatever, then completely lost the zone in the 4th inning where he walked in a run. It’s like he completely forgot everything he was doing in the first 3 innings and went back to getting ahead in the count and then filling the count trying to nibble the edges of the zone. His final line wasn’t bad (quality start), he’s just infuriating to watch sometimes.

-Andrew Vaughn smoked himself another dinger today off an 80 MPH curveball, bringing his career total up to 15 with a real shot at 25 for the year. Plus he’s played almost everywhere on the diamond, and I’m thinking the Sox have their own version of Max Muncy now.

-Michael Kopech made one mistake today, but that was all it took to end the Sox’ hopes of a 4 game sweep. He hung an 0-1 slider in the middle of the plate, and Matt Olsen (who else?) didn’t miss it. Live and learn.

-The Sox tried to make it interesting off Lou Trevino in the bottom of the 9th, but Eloy left Jose on 2nd base when he smoked a line drive right at Starling Marte. Can’t get too mad about it based on how well the first 3 games went. Moving on.

 

Next up the Sox have a 3 game set this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays, who they took 2 of 3 from earlier in June. Looks like the Sox miss the meaty part of the Rays rotation, instead getting the corpse of Michael Wacha and Luis Patiño. Giolito, DK and ReyLo will get the nods against the Rays, who have the ability to single you to death, or bludgeon you with dingers. Let’s hope Gio can keep his stuff up in the zone, and DK down. Take another 2 from them, call it a series and send em packing back to America’s Taint.

 

Let’s Go Sox.

 

 

Baseball

BOX SCORES:

Game 1: White Sox 1 – A’s 5

Game 2: White Sox 2 – A’s 13

Game 3: White Sox 2 – A’s 3

 

Well shit.  That’s not exactly how I would’ve drawn up the start to the second half of the season, but whatever.  The Coliseum has always been a house of horrors for the Sox for as long as I can remember, and this turned out no differently.  The Sox forgot how to hit during the All Star break, and Dylan Covey forgot what the strike zone looked like so he could avoid it with the cookies he was serving up.  All in all it was a pretty shitty weekend of baseball for the Southsiders, and on top of that Brock Lesnar has the goddam title again.  Ugh.

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

– Lets start with the positives, shall we?  Reynaldo Lopez looked pretty damn good today.  Moved his fastball in and out of the zone, located his changeup and slider and basically kept the A’s hitters off balance for most of the day.  I’ll take 6 innings of 1 run ball from him every damn start of the week and twice on Sunday.  He even left with the lead after Eloy launched number 17 to the deepest part of that goddamn canyon they play in.  Granted, Evan Marshall gave that up 3 pitches into the next inning but whatever.

– Luis Robert had about 32 RBIs in his first weekend at AAA and (seriously) started off his career there with a grand slam.  I can hear Rick Hahn practicing mumbling excuses for why he’s not here in September already.

– That’s about it for the positive stuff.  The Sox suddenly turned into a bunch of pool noodle armed weaklings in the first 2 games.  They banged out 17 hits in those 2 games, approximately ZERO of which went for extra bases.  That’s pretty mind boggling right there.  I’m willing to chalk that up as an aberration if you are.

– Dylan Covey flat out sucked to high heaven Saturday.  There’s no other way to put it.  He claimed he was too amped up to be facing his old team, but maybe he’s just not meant to be a starter.  He’d make a great opener, though.  If only there was a cool baseball story this weekend that illustrates how valuable an opener can be to a team with no 5th starter.  Oh well.

– Nova once again gave up too many home runs, which really has been his only problem as of late.  If he can cut down on those, I guess he’d make an OK 4th starter here.  Not gonna hold my breath, however.

– Jose Rondon sucks.  DFA his ass into the sun when Timmy gets back, which hopefully isn’t too far away as he’s apparently begun baseball activities in his rehab back from a high ankle sprain.

– This series sucked, but I’m not going to look too deep into anything.  If the Sox have trouble scoring against the Royals this week and their collection of recycled arms then I may sound the alarm.  Otherwise I’m just going to forget this weekend happened and redact it from the official scoresheet.  Moving on.

 

 

 

Baseball

   VS.

 

RECORDS:  A’s 50-41  White Sox 42-44

Game Times: Friday 9:05/Saturday & Sunday 3:05

TV:  Friday & Saturday NBCSN/Sunday WGN

Still Bashin’ Bros: Athletics Nation

PITCHING MATCHUPS:

Game 1: Mike Fiers vs. Chevy Nova

Game 2: Chris Bassit vs. TBD (Probably Dylan Cease)

Game 3: Brett Anderson vs. Reynaldo Lopez

 

PROBABLE A’S LINEUP:

1. Marcus Seimen – SS

2. Robbie Grossman – LF

3. Matt Olson – 1B

4. Khris Davis – DH

5. Matt Chapman – 3B

6. Josh Phegley – C

7. Ramon Laureano – CF

8. Mark Canha – RF

9. Franklin Barreto – 2B

 

PROBABLE WHITE SOX LINEUP

1. Leury Garcia – SS

2. Yoan Moncada – 3B

3. Jose Abreu – 1B

4. James McCann – C

5. Eloy Jimenez – LF

6. Jon Jay – RF

7. Yolmer Sanchez – 2B

8. Ryan Cordell – CF

9. Zack Collins (hopefully)- DH

 

 

So now begins the back nine of what can be considered a fairly successful first half for the White Sox, despite the sub .500 record.  There are a couple of storylines that bear watching, mostly the usage of the younger members of the Sox roster from here on out.  Kicking off the 2nd half is a series against the Oakland A’s, a team with playoff aspirations and the record to back it up.  They’re currently locked in a battle with the 2 Texas based teams, jockeying for position in the AL west.  The smart money is on the Astros to sew it up on the back 9, and the regression monster finally coming for the surprising Rangers.  This leaves Team Moneyball to take their standard spot as the other AL wild card team, destined to be smoked by Tampa Bay or Boston.

The A’s have made it this far mostly living off their surprising starting pitching, anchored by Mike Fiers and the surprising Frankie Montas, though I guess it’s not THAT surprising since he just got popped with an 80 game suspension for performance enhancers.  Fiers actually has been one of the better AL starters since May, tossing a No-No earlier.  He currently sports a respectable 3.87 ERA, with a 1.10 WHIP.  He doesn’t strike many people out, but he keeps the ball in the yard, especially at the canyon-esque Coliseum he calls home.  He’s also a giant dickhead, and is probably upset he’s missing out on a chance to throw at Tim Anderson’s head.  Brett Anderson and Chris Bassit have also been solid, even if most A’s fans couldn’t pick them out of a police lineup.  Their bullpen is also lights out, and is set to eclipse the 6.0 WAR they put up last season during their surprising wild card run.  Fangraphs currently has them as the most successful pen in the majors so far this season.  Closer Blake Treinen has for the time being lost his spot to Liam Hendricks due to a rotater cuff strain, but should resume the gig now that he’s off the IL.  He wasn’t exactly lights out before the strain, however, posting a 4.17 ERA and blowing 4 saves.  His slider, which had been his out pitch in previous years, has been ditched for a new cut fastball.  Apparently it’s not cutting enough, because it’s being hit harder than any other of his offerings.

The A’s hitters, while not the murderer’s row offered up by the Dodgers or the Twins (ugh.  Really?), can still hurt you top to bottom.  They currently sit right in the top third of the league in hitting according to Fangraphs, and the team BABIP actually shows they’ve been the victim of some bad luck thus far.  Matt Chapman leads the way again, building off his impressive breakout season last year.  He’s already knocked out 21 dingers thus far, and maintains an .887 OBPS, which is exactly the type of player that gives Billy Beane night sweats.  Khris Davis, though hampered by some injuries so far, continues to provide pop in the heart of the lineup.  Old Friend Marcus Seimen continues to provide much improved D up the middle, and has added a little pop to his game, slugging .105 above his career average.  Even though Timmy has SS locked down for the future, this trade still stings seeing what Seimen has turned into.

As for the Sox, while it was fun seeing Giolito, McCann and Abreu in the All Star game (despite Jose going GIDP in his only at bat) it’s time to get back to doing what they do best: sit just below .500 while playing entertaining baseball for most of the time.  With no starter officially listed for Saturday yet, one would have to assume it would be start #2 for Dylan Cease.  If not, I guess we get to see more of Hoss Detwiler, though Covey may be available as well.  I’d much rather Covey slot into long relief, as it seems to be his destiny on this club.  Nova gets the start tonight, and it will be interesting to see if he can build on the little streak he had for himself before the break.  With 2 of the 3 A’s starters set to be RHP, this would be a good time to give Zack Collins a few starts either behind the dish or at 1B to give Jose a breather.  Will it happen?  With Palka being sent back down, you’d think so but we shall see.   Having a few extra days off will probably help a few of the Sox starters, as nagging injuries to Leury and Yoan could’ve used the extra time.

While the Sox -71 run differential screams 2nd half regression, some of that could be mitigated by having more than 2/5ths of an actual MLB starting rotation.  Either way, I’m hopeful for the future (and a Luis Robert September callup) and excited to see what the trade deadline and the 2nd half brings to the team.  Time to crank it up, fire it up.

Let’s Go Sox!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baseball

As far as GMs with the most name recognition in baseball, there are none more famous than Billy Beane.  There certainly aren’t any out there who are played by Brad Pitt in a major motion picture.  Yet what most people don’t realize is that Beane isn’t even the GM of the A’s anymore.  A few years back, Beane was promoted from GM of the A’s to president of baseball operations, and David Forst (his handpicked successor) was installed as GM.  For awhile Beane disappeared from the public eye as Forst gave more and more of the interviews.  This became even more noticeable when the A’s entered into a slide of 3 straight years of finishing at the bottom of the AL West.  Was Moneyball dead?  Was Beane full of shit all along?  Could the A’s pull themselves out of the cellar without a payroll of more than $30 million dollars?  Turns out the answer to all of those was an emphatic “maybe.”

The 2018 season for the A’s resulted in a gigantic turnaround that saw them finish six games behind the 2017 WS winners Houston and score themselves a wild card birth.  Granted, that wild card birth resulted in a 7-2 thrashing at the hands of the Yankees, but at least some life had been shown by the once scrappy team.  The A’s were able to claw themselves back into relevance with timely hitting and a loaded bullpen that was completely rebuilt by Beane and Forst in the previous offseason.  Subscribing to the formula made successful by Cleveland the previous year, they loaded up with Juerys Familia and Shawn Kelley.  They also had Blake Trienen and his career year anchoring them down in the 9th inning.  Fangraphs had them with the 6th best bullpen in the league with a total of 6.0 WAR.  Compared to the previous year when they were 23rd in the league with 1.9 in WAR.  That’s a gigantic turnaround, and (credit where its due) that’s due to some smooth moves by Forst and Beane.

This offseason he started out by prying super utility guy Jurickson Profar away from the Rangers, then adding even more to his misfit bullpen by signing Old Friend Jokim Soria to a 2 year deal.  He also attempted to shore up a weak looking rotation by signing Mike Fiers,  Brett Anderson and Marco Estrada to low cost deals.  He also signed Khris Davis to a long term extension, one of the most expensive contracts ever given out in his tenure with the A’s.

So where did signing all of these “Beane Guys” get them?  Well the A’s rotation, despite most fans needing google to identify most of them, has been one of the best in baseball.  Mike Fiers (yeah, that same guy who exploded Giancarlo Stanton’s jaw awhile back) threw a no hitter earlier, and Frankie Montas and Brett Anderson were on pace for career years. At least until Montas was busted for performance enhancing substances a few weeks back.  Davis is doing Khris Davis things, and the other found talents in his lineup (Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Josh Phegley) continue to hit for both power and average.  Even after all of these years, the A’s are still able to cobble together playoff-caliber teams from the spare parts of other clubs and this season appears to be no different.

All of the above are hallmarks of a Billy Beane-led team.  So while he may not be in front of the cameras now nearly as much as he used to be, his muppet David Forst is clearly still under his orders.  Nothing truly changes with Beane’s thrift shop approach to building and maintaining a MLB franchise.  There’s no doubt it’s had it’s successes, but wins have never translated into attendance for Oakland.  Granted, a fair amount of that blame can be put on their converted football stadium and the continuing haunting of the outfield by the ghost of Al Davis.  Some of that is just the lackadaisical approach to fandom most of the Bay Area takes to pro sports. I would pin most of it on his team’s reliability to flame out in the opening rounds of the MLB postseason.  As it stands right now the A’s are on a collision course with Tampa Bay, the team currently doing Moneyball better than the creator of it, and I would expect Oakland’s journey to end no differently than in past seasons.  You can practically set your watch to it.  So in the end, he can hide behind the scenes, but he can never truly escape the fact that to win in MLB these days, Moneyball alone gets you nothing but an average baseball movie starring Brad Pitt and the guy from the GIF making the “nah man, stop it” motion with his hand.