Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: White Sox 7 – Rays 5 (11 Innings)

Game 2: White Sox 4 – Rays 8

Game 3: White Sox 0 – Rays 9

 

 

At least Friday night was exciting, right?

 

In a series that statistically meant much more to the Rays than the Sox, you got the expected effort level from each team. The Sox looked up for this series right until the point that Wander Franco’s ground ball trampolined off the 3rd base bag and turned into a run scoring double Saturday morning. At that exact moment the “Not Interested” neon sign flared on and the weekend was kaput.

It was also not a glorious weekend for the bullpen, as Craig Kimbrel gave up yet another run and then left Aaron Bummer with a bag of shit that he promptly exploded all over the mound. The Sox also trotted out Mike Wright Jr, who is so good at baseball that MLB.COM doesn’t even have a player bio for him.

All told, the Sox gave up 22 runs in 3 games and only scored 11. Not really a recipe for success, but they did manage to scrape out an exciting win Friday and split the season series with the Rays 3-3 so all is not terrible.

 

To The Pipe Bombs!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

GAME 1

-Lucas Giolito, welcome back! A very quality start from our guy here, going 7 strong and striking out 8 while only making a single mistake to Ji-man Choi in the 2nd inning (which barely cleared the OF wall). Gio looked in control all game, and probably could’ve at least started the 8th inning but Tony wanted to (rightfully so) get the ball to his lockdown bullpen in the 8th. Unfortunately we know how that went, but it shouldn’t diminish what Lucas was able to do on the mound against a very pesky Rays lineup.

-Tim Anderson, ladies and gentleman. There’s not much else that can be said, so just bask in his glory.

-Yoan Moncada went yard as well, so that should potentially silence his haters for a second or two. But probably not.

-Luis Robert looks like he never left. Having Brian Goodwin around to spell him every few games is a great bonus for the team, and it should hopefully keep Robert at 100% heading into the postseason.

-Ryan Tepera has been as advertised and might end up being a sneakily great addition for Rick Hahn.

GAME 2

-Seby Zavala went yard and Dallas Keuchel had some bad luck but also kinda sucked. That’s it, that’s the game.

 

GAME 3

-Nope.

 

Next up the Sox head North of the border and meet up with the Toronto Blue Jays, a team that can pound the shit out of the ball but outside of Robby Ray can’t pitch for shit. George Springer was back for a hot minute then collapsed right back on the IL, so that’s one less issue for the Sox pitchers to worry about, but Vladdy Jr is still there hitting balls to the moon and back. Should be a fun series. A split of the 4 game series should be the bare minimum here, especially with the impending return of Yasmani Grandal. Get it done.

 

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Rays 5 – White Sox 2

Game 2: Rays 0 – White Sox 3

Game 3: Rays 7 – White Sox 8

 

Despite the comments in the press from the players that this was just another series in June, this felt a little more…edgy for the Sox than the Rays. With players dropping like flies over the first few months of the season and their merely average win percentage against teams with winning records this felt like a chance for the Sox to make a statement. Doing so without the services of Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal and Michael Kopech was an extremely tall order, and the fact that the team took 2 of 3 from the Rays is pretty goddamn impressive.

It’s hard to not get excited about this team right now, and if Rick Hahn makes a few solid moves leading up to the deadline they could (GULP) become a legitimate contender for the AL Pennant. It’s weird to have this kind of hope and excitement about a franchise that’s done nothing but grind our hopes into dust the last decade, and I still am kinda waiting for the other shoe to drop…but STILL. Excitement!

 

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

Game 1:

-The biggest story coming out of this game doesn’t involve any Sox players (yet), as Tyler Glasnow was pulled in the 5th inning after feeling a twang in his elbow. After further evaluation, it turns out he has a partial tear of the UCL ligament, which is pretty much death for any pitcher. The more interesting part was his assertion that the tear was partially caused by the fact that MLB has issued a league-wide ban on any sticky substance for pitchers. This is a pretty complex issue, despite some of the blanket statements by people on twitter dot com that he’s a cheater and that’s what he deserves the reality is that with MLB using a hammer when they should be using a scalpel they’re creating a cascade of issues that may cost some pitchers time on the IL.

-Lance Lynn had the same issues that Lucas Giolito had his last start, where his stuff was there but a few pitches were left up in the zone and punished over the wall. Other than the 2 mistakes he made, Lynn looked like the ace he is. Nothing to see here, other than his amazing quote at the end of the game:

-The batting average of Yermin Mercedes continues to plummet earthward as he went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts in the game. He hasn’t looked himself in a few weeks, and with the positive Eloy news coming out Monday he may be K-ing his way out of a roster spot.

-You’re not gonna win many games when your 3-7 hitters go 0-infinity, but credit to the Rays bullpen for picking up the slack once Glasnow died. They’re the type of unit that can simply dominate a series in the postseason, and it’s scary to think the Sox could see them in the 1st round.

-Garret Crochet gave up a dinger, bringing his ERA up to 0.81. Total bust.

Game 2

-Adam Engel nuked a 98 mph fastball over the bullpen in left. Can you imagine what a platoon of him and Joc Pedersen would’ve looked like for the Sox outfield? Instead we’re left with the corpse of Adam Eaton. GOOD CALL.

-Dallas Keuchel had his good stuff tonight, spotting his sinker at the bottom of the zone and forcing the Rays to pound the ball into the dirt. His final line of 7 IP, 4 hits, 1BB, 5K’s is the atypical start from him and it was great to see him back in form. Not bad for a 5th starter, eh?

-Jose Abreu and Yermin looked all out of sorts against McClanahan tonight, as neither of them could pick up the spin on his breaking ball. Jose is now 0-8 in the 1st 2 games of the series, and Yermin is…still not good.

-Aaron Bummer came in and gave up a leadoff double, then slammed the door shut after that for his 10th hold of the season. Getting him and Evan Marshall back up to snuff will be key in the 2nd half of the season, and this was a good start.

-Liam Hendriks rebounded nicely from his rain soaked blown save. Still would’ve rather had a $30 million dollar right fielder, but that’s not gonna stop me from enjoying him on the team. Fun shit.

Game 3

-Jose Abreu got shit started right against Ryan Yarborough (who had come into the game pitching very solidly having only given up 10 runs in his previous 35 innings pitched) by lacing a line drive HR over the head of Manuel Margot. It was his only hit of the series, but way to make it count.

-Lucas Giolito once again was bitten by the long ball. He certainly didn’t pitch poorly by any stretch of the imagination (quality start and should’ve had the win) but that’s now 6 dingers given up in half of June, when he only gave up 5 in the entire month of May. Definitely bears watching.

-The bullpen implosion shows the issues they have with consistency right now. Bummer and Marshall will look unhittable for a stretch of two or three games, and then get their fucking doors blown off. Looking at the other dugout you see a bullpen of guys who are consistent as hell, and in the playoffs that’s what you need. Once Kopech comes back, him and Crochet need to be the 8th inning guys going forward until Bummer and Marshall get back to form.

-Danny Mendick tried to make up for his error in the 8th with a leadoff double in the 9th, but the strike zone of home plate ump Fieldin Culbreth became 3 feet wide. It was an inexplicable change to the strike zone in a critical portion of the game, and he’d actually done pretty well up until that point. Robot umps, plz.

-Yasmani Grandal walks, and then he REALLY walks (it off) with a game winning screamer down the RF line. Is he the best .152 hitter of all time? Yes. Is he not of this world? Quite Possibly.

 

Next up is another stout test for the Sox with 4 against the Houston Astros. While their pitching isn’t quite what it once was, they have enough weapons at the plate to be in the top tier in all offensive categories. By taking 4 of 6 against the Rays and Blue Jays the Sox have already done enough to consider this portion of the schedule a success. Splitting with Houston or better would just be the cherry on top. With Moncada supposedly coming back tonight, I certainly wouldn’t bet against them.

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

Game 1: White Sox 9 – Rays 2

Game 2: White Sox 2 – Rays 1 (11 Innings)

Game 3: White Sox 2 – Rays 4

 

Well that’s a bit more like it.  Taking two outta three from a team in the playoff chase like the Tampa Bay Rays is kind of what I was hoping for in Oakland.  Alas that was not to be (or the next 4 in Kansas City, but I digress), but the team made up for it here.  The most exciting thing about this series was the starting pitching for the Sox, as Reynaldo Lopez has now strung together 3 pretty darn good starts in a row.  On top of that we saw Lucas Giolito return to form, mowing down Rays like like the propeller of a drunken Floridian’s speedboat off the Tampa coast.  Oh yeah, James McCann is pretty clutch too.

BULLET CLUB TIME

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

 

-All three Sox starters this weekend went at least 5 innings.  This was a welcome sight, because after the 7 game losing streak coming out of the All Star break the bullpen was reaching critical mass.  Especially with Kelvin “Everything Hurts” Herrera heading back to the IL with an oblique strain.  Speaking of the bullpen, it was aces this series.  It allowed no runs, 2 hits and 3 walks in 9.1 innings to a Rays team that isn’t without pop in it’s lineup.  Jace Fry and Josh Osich in particular stood out.  This is a good thing, and I would like more of it please.

-James McCann went 2 for 14 this weekend and saw his average dip below .300 for the first time in quite awhile.  That didn’t matter so much, however, thanks to his clutch ass dinger in the top of the 9th in game two, with two people out.  Even if regression is here (I think it probably is), I’ll take a catcher who hits .275 and has power in the clutch any day of the week.

-Watching Jose Rondon hack his way to an eye-bleedingly bad .190 average and play sub par defense is not making for good television viewing.  Please, please, please let Tim Anderson’s evaluation go well tomorrow.  My retinas can’t take much more.

-Especially when Rondon is combined into a 1-2 punch of wretchedness with Wellington Castillo.  Ole Big Beef is back below the Mendoza line after Sunday’s 0 for 4 display, putting on a clinic of What Not To Do with runners on base.  The Sox continue their mystifying tradition of having complete stiffs playing the DH position, and it’s getting to the point where I hope the team has a road trip to NL parks soon so I can watch Giolio and Lopez out-slug Wellington by .100 points of OPS.

-Dylan Cease got himself into trouble with walks today, having issues controlling his fastball again.  The stuff is clearly there, it’s just going to take time for him to get comfortable on the bump up here in the bigs.

-Nick Madrigal hit his first home run in AA the other night, checking another box in the pages long list of them that only Rick Hahn knows what it contains.  Luis Robert continues to rake in AAA, playing in that broom closet of a park with a ball that has an enriched uranium core.  I wonder if one of the boxes on Rick’s list is X amount of dollars of property damage before Robert is called up to the main club, because he’s really not slowing down.

-Next up is the Miami Marlins of Cuba, who wander into town tomorrow night.  They’re ready to showcase their wares to the dozens of GM’s lining up to be the next person to fleece Derek Jeter by convincing him that this bag of magic beans is totally worth Caleb Smith and Jordan Yamamoto.  Honestly you’re kind of doing him a favor, as these beans are going to be top 10 in Baseball America’s next prospect list.  Seriously, would I lie to you?  You’re a hall of famer, Derek!  If anything, YOU’RE hoodwinking ME.  Why sure, I guess I’ll take Brian Anderson too.  He’s probably a career AAA guy anyways.  You owe me.

 

 

 

 

Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: White Sox 42-51   Rays 56-43

GAMETIMES: 6:10 Friday, 5:10 Saturday, 12:10 Sunday

TV: NBCSN Friday and Sunday, WGN Saturday

LEFT TURN SIGNAL ON: DRays Bay

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Reynaldo Lopez vs. Brendan McKay

Lucas Giolito  vs. TBA

Dylan Cease vs. TBA

PROBABLE WHITE SOX LINEUP

Leury Garcia – RF

Yoan Moncada – 3B

Jose Abreu – 1b

James McCann – DH

Welington Castillo – C

Jose Rondon – SS

Jon Jay – LF

Yolmer Sanchez – 2B

Adam Engel – CF

PROBABLE RAYS LINEUP

Austin Meadows – RF

Tommy Pham – LF

Ji-Man Choi – DH

Nate Lowe – 1B

Yandy Diaz – 3B

Kevin Kiermaier – CF

Travis d’Arnaud – C

Joey Wendle – SS

Michael Brosseau – 2B

 

The White Sox will take their traveling carnival with defective rides down to the airplane hangar of Tropicana this weekend, for three games with the wildcard chasing Rays. The Rays will think this is the perfect tonic after losing three of four to the Yankees in the Bronx, which pretty much ended their hopes of any division crown. Especially with Eloy laid up. Even still, eight games back with 63 to go would be quite the trick.

The Rays haven’t gotten here through offense, or at least not sheer offense. It’s been timely, but mostly middling in every category you’d look at in the AL. Pham, Lowe, Meadows, and Diaz have been more than serviceable, though all have gone cold of late. They can’t slug with the Yankees, which is part of the reason they went from ahead early to watching the pinstripes disappear over the horizon of late.

It’s on the mound where the Rays stand out, leading the AL in ERA and FIP as a team among their starters. Which is kind of weird, as they only boast about three starters but have mastered the idea of the opener. Tyler Glasnow has been on the shelf and might not return this year. Ian Snell and Charlie Morton have been great, though the Sox might not see either this weekend. But aside from that, Ryan Stanek usually gets the opening duty. He’s made 27 starts but only thrown 43 innings. Yonny Chirinos sometimes follows him or starts himself. Brendan McKay will be a normal starter tonight, but beyond that the Rays haven’t said what they’re going to do. Chirinos and Morton started yesterday in New York so they’re definitely out. Snell looks odds on to take Sunday’s start.

As you’ve probably guessed, the Rays have a host of options out of the pen that you’ve never heard of but all work, because that’s just how they do down there. Emilio Pagan and Diego Castillo are splitting the closing duties of late, but Kittredge and Poche can get big outs too.

For the Sox, Adam Engel has returned to dutifully man center field and go up to the plate with his pool noodle bat. They’ll throw what are probably their two best guns in Giolito and Cease, with Lopez trying to find it again tonight. It’s been a road trip from hell for them, and playing in the quite expanse of The Trop will probably seem more like purgatory. There’s a long homestand waiting after this one, but the Rays will need some get-back too so if the Sox are already thinking about the plane home, they may find this one goes to 10.

Baseball

So we know the Astros cheat. Every pitcher goes there, suddenly is getting more spin on every breaking pitch and their velocity can then only be measured by NASA (lucky it’s based in Houston) and they win 105 games. And then Justin Verlander complains about something. What we weren’t sure of is if pitchers could continue to carry whatever they were infected with in Houston elsewhere when they move along.

According to Charlie Morton, they sure can.

Morton arrived in Houston after seven serviceable years in Pittsburgh and one injury shortened one in Philadelphia, but nothing that would cause anyone to write any haikus about him. Then Morton showed up to Texas after making only those fours tarts for the Phillies due to a torn hamstring. And suddenly his fastball had more pop. Morton hadn’t averaged more than 92 MPH on his fastball before. As an Astro, suddenly is it was 95 MPH (though he did flash that in Philly for those four starts, to be fair). The only change one can spot is that his horizontal release point got farther from his body, or more across it, so you could argue he was getting more extension.

Either way, the Astros encouraged Morton to start using that fastball more instead of a sinker, which he did. They also got him using his best pitch, the curve, more often as well, nearly 30%.

Well the Rays are a pretty forward-thinking organization as well, and they figured if the curve is Morton’s best pitch, there shouldn’t be a limit on how much he throws is. They have him throwing it nearly 40% of the time. And it’s no wonder, as the past two years Morton has discovered two more inches of sweep or horizontal break to it than he ever had, which means it’s really hard to make contact on. He’s gotten over 40% whiffs per swing on it the past three years, so why not throw the hell out of it?

So he shows up in Houston, and suddenly he’s throwing harder and getting more break on the curve. Got ya. It’s ok though, whatever works.

Morton has added a wrinkle this year, using a slider, which is just a sped up version of his curve. But it’s generating a 36% whiff-rate as well, so now he’s got three weapons. He hadn’t ever thrown a slider before this season.

All of it has led Morton to be one of the AL’s most dominating starters this year, with his first sub-3.00 ERA and FIP and worth 3.6 fWAR so far. Only Gerrit Cole and Lance Lynn have been better than Morton so far this year. Which makes the two-year, $30M total deal he got one of the best values in MLB. Which is kind of the Rays thing, of course.

Morton’s brilliance has helped the Rays offset the loss of Tyler Glasnow, who might not make it back this year, to remain the leader in the wild card race in the AL. They’re probably not going to catch the Yankees after getting domed in a doubleheader yesterday, but considering the division they play in getting in the playoffs at all is something of a miracle.

Maybe big ticket items aren’t di rigeur anymore, but there is value on the free agency market to be found. Especially if it’s already been injected by Astro syrum.

 

Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: Rays 7-3   Sox 3-5

GAMETIMES: Monday-Wednesday 1:10pm

TV: WGN Monday, NBCSN Tuesday and Wednesday

DOING 40 IN THE LEFT LANE WITH THE BLINKER ON: D Rays Bay

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Ian Snell vs. Carlos Rodon

Charlie Morton vs. TBD

Tyler Glasnow vs. Reynaldo Lopez

Probably Rays Lineup

Austin Meadows – RF

Yandy Diaz – 1B

Tommy Pham – LF

Daniel Robertson – 2B

Avisail Garcia – DH

Mike Zunino – C

Kevin Kiermaier – CF

Willy Adames – SS

Christian Arroyo – 3B

(Meadows, Diaz, and Robertson platoon, so Brandon Lowe and Ji-Man Choi are likely back in against a righty)

 

Probable Sox Lineup

Leury Garcia – CF

Yoan Moncada – 3B

Jose Abreu – DH

Yonder Alonso – 1B

Eloy Jimenez – LF

Daniel Palka – RF

Welington Castillo – C

Tim Anderson – SS

Yolmer Sanches – 2B

 

When facing the Rays, you usually get to see the path baseball will probably take and get an “opener” or two (Lord knows I could use an “opener” today). But the Sox will get three of their actual starters this week, in three matinees meant to avoid the April chills at night. And one of them just happens to be the reigning Cy Young winner. So that’s nice.

The Rays have jumped out in front of the AL East, with the Red Sox having something of a wobble in their season-opening West Coast trip and all the Yankees being broken. And they’ve done it by their rotation being excellent so far, with all of Snell, Glasnow, Morton, and Yonny Chirinos throwing darts out there. Snell, Morton, and Chirinos are all striking out over 10 per nine innings, and Glasnow isn’t walking anyone to make up for his still-good-but-not-as-good strikeout numbers. Which is weird coming from Tampa, as they’ve sort of specialized in recent years how to get around not having any rotation at all. This is Dylan going electric, man!

It also helps to have three relievers who haven’t given up a run as the Rays do in Jose Alvarado (and his magic fastball), Diego Castillo, and Adam Kolarek, along with Jalen Beeks (Wonderful news, Beeks!).

Which is peachy keen, as the Rays aren’t scoring much, and don’t really project to. They only have 34 runs on the year, which is plenty enough when you’ve only surrendered 19 in 10 games. No other team in the AL has given up less than 26. Diaz, Kiermaier, and Choi are the ones who have started the season hot, but other than that you’re going to be scratching your head at the rest of the lineup. That’s the Rays way. Tommy Pham is here and he’s not complaining yet, but it isn’t May yet either. This team gets by on catching everything though, which they do. That is when their pitchers actually allow a ball in play, which isn’t all that often.

The Sox will hope Carlos Rodon can build on a very promising start to the season, and Lopez can find it. They’ll take any pitching they can find, as they spent the last two days getting it upside their head from the Mariners. Moncada only had one hit on Saturday and Sunday, so clearly he’s now a bum again. Fifth Feather is already chewing his nails about Eloy, so a breakout from him would be welcomed as well.