Kid is doin’ thangs. Thank you.
That was quite the Buzzkill.
The Sox came into the series with the Evil Empire with the best run differential in the entire league, and left it with merely the 3rd best behind the Dodgers and Padres. Since the 16 run skulling of the Twins last Monday, the Sox have only managed a measly 11 runs in that span. In those 5 games they’ve hit into 6 double plays, one triple play, and stranded 36 runners on base. Not the kind of baseball you’d expect from a team with deigns on the postseason, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with the NL Central leading Cardinals coming to town tomorrow.
If Rick Hahn takes anything away from this series against the Yankees (That very well could be a 1st round playoff preview come the beginning of October), it’s that an OF containing Adam Eaton, Leury Garcia, Andrew Vaughn and Jake Lamb is just not going to get it done from here on out. Lamb, Garcia and Eaton have all been sub-replacement level since the beginning of May and Vaughn (while making a nice diving catch again Saturday) has made some mistakes out there as part of his learning process.
It would behoove Hahn to make a move sooner rather than later, as there are a few right fielders out there just waiting to be poached from the Mariners and Rangers. I personally don’t want to dip into what is a pretty shallow talent pool in the farm system to spackle together a functional outfield, but when you go cheap in the off-season this is the price you pay when the shit hits the fan.
-As mentioned above, what was the best run differential in the league by a fairly large margin has now slid down to 3rd behind the Dodgers and Padres. What’s notable about that is both those teams also have a plethora of injuries to their OF right now, with names like Cody Bellinger, Trent Grisham, Mookie Betts, AJ Pollack all dealing with various maladies right now. Oh, and some guy named Fernando Tatis Jr tested positive for COVID. None of those teams had 1st basemen playing in left and right field on Sunday, however.
-Tony LaRussa had himself another rough weekend using the bullpen. He left both Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall in way too long, used too much of Jose Ruiz and not nearly enough Michael Kopech and Garret Crochet, and he set Liam Hendriks up to fail on Sunday afternoon.
-Oh, and he started Jake Lamb in RF for the first time in his career on Sunday. Feel the excitement!
-Not helping the bullpen this weekend were Dylan Cease and Dallas Keuchel. Cease was cruising along fairly well on Saturday until a botched play by Andrew Vaughn in LF sent him into a tailspin and Keuchel was super inefficient Sunday, needing 100 pitches to get through 4+ innings.
-On the plus side, the long ball showed up on Sunday with Abreu, Grandal and Andrew Vaughn all going yard. Both Abreu and Vaughn’s dingers were well over 410 feet each, with Vaughn’s coming off noted abuser and all around shitbag Aroldis Chapman. You love to see it.
-Also, Carlos Rodon was fucking unhittable on Friday night. He went 6 innings, striking out 13 Yankees including this series in the 4th where he struck out the side (the side being DJ LeMahieu, Luke Voit and Aaron Judge). Simply nasty stuff, take a look:
-Next up is a series against the St. Louis Cardinals, fresh off their series loss against the North Side Baseball Club. The highlight of this series should be the pitching matchup on Tuesday night, featuring two former high school teammates in Lucas Giolito and Jack Flaherty.
The Cardinals are as banged up as the Sox are, and having as much trouble scoring runs as of late. With Lance Lynn, Giolito and Rodon going in the series, this should give the Sox the best chance to get back on track with hopefully 2 or 3 wins. With capacity now up to 60% in the stadium, here’s hoping to some quality crowds and some successful home cookin.
Let’s Go Sox!
It’s very rare in my baseball watching tenure where something will occur during a game that renders me completely unable to speak. The top of the 10th inning against the Reds yesterday was one of those times. It was a moment so drenched in stupidity, that I could just sit there in awe with my mouth agape like a landed fish.
For those of you who were living in a cave the past 24 hours, this is how it shook down: the top of the 9th ended with an Andrew Vaughn out, making him the runner on 2nd should the Sox be able to push the game that far. They did so, with Liam Hendriks coming out to get Michael Kopech out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom. For some reason, Grandpa Galaxybrain at that point decided the time was ripe for a double switch, bringing in Jake Lamb for Vaughn…leaving Hendriks as the runner on 2nd to start the top of the inning.
Now imagine that you’re the GM of an MLB team, and you need a new coach. What would the bare minimum that you’d expect from someone who wanted to be the coach of your team? Would you want him to be able to evaluate talent? Probably. Be a good communicator? Yep. Would you want him to, oh I don’t know, maybe BE FAMILAIR WITH THE RULES OF THE GAME THAT HE IS COACHING? That seems like it would be an important thing to know at the Major League level. Well ole Tony doesn’t have time to read every single little rule in the book. Tony has other things to worry about, like “when is nap time?” and “why isn’t it nap time yet?”
So we were left with Liam Hendriks the pitcher, standing on 2nd base at the start of the top of the 10th inning. The guy who hasn’t had to run the bases since he was a young lad punching a kangaroo back in the junior leagues in Australia. It didn’t have to be this way. The extra innings runner rule looks like this:
So LaRussa could’ve had Jose Abreu standing on 2nd base instead of Hendriks, without being forced to pull Hendriks from the game. While Abreu isn’t exactly Pietro Maximoff on the base paths, he’s an intelligent runner, knowing what to do in any given situation. He’s also fucking huge, which would allow him to potentially blow up Tucker Barnhardt at home should the need arise. Both are things that Liam Hendriks cannot do or be.
After a Grandal walk (shocking, I know), and a Leury Garcia fielder’s choice (also shocking), the Sox had 1st and 3rd with one out. Now, if you have Abreu on 3rd, you have more options to score on a ground ball or attempting a suicide squeeze as again, Jose is an intelligent baserunner.
Now you have Billy Hamilton at the plate, who’s greatest value in this situation would be to lay down said squeeze bunt to get the runner home. However you can’t do that because it’s Liam Hendriks on 3rd who is not trained for this situation and is also a$70 million investment you don’t want broken. So if you’re not going to do the squeeze and you have another outfielder in the form of Adam Eaton on the bench, why do you have Hamilton hit here, as getting the ball out of the infield is not a specialty of his. Zack Collins is literally just sitting there waiting to prove himself.
None of this mattered ultimately, because for reasons known only to Ole Uncle Drinky, Leury Garcia tried to steal 2nd base and was gunned down. Shortly thereafter Hamilton strikes out to end the inning and naturally the Reds walk it off in the bottom of the 10th.
This is now the 3rd time on the season where LaRussa’s choices have directly affected the outcome of the games, and not in a good way. The fact that the offense was unable to string together any hits or the fact that 2/3rds of the starting OF is currently deceased does not absolve LaRussa for not knowing the rules or pulling some mad shit like having Leury try to steal second on a gold glove winning catcher when his run is not the one that matters. No amount of lawyering or being a Hall of Fame Baseball Person can polish the turd that was the top of the 10th yesterday, which is really a shame because Dallas Keuchel kicked all kinds of ass.
-Is Dylan Cease fixed? Is he the best hitter on the team? Both of these things seem possible after Tuesday night as he went 6 strong innings striking out 11 AND went 3-4 at the dish with a double and a run scored. Some credit here to Grandal, as when it seemed like Cease was about to let his mechanics break down he called for about 6 straight fastballs to recalibrate him. It worked, as he got Castellanos and Suarez swinging. More please.
-Yoan Moncada had a few frozen ropes in night one, with an AEV of about 101 mph between them. Once he starts elevating these, they’re not coming back.
-As mentioned above, Dallas Keuchel had himself a day. While the strikeouts were low (only 1), he kept everything on the ground, which at the Great American Ballpark is absolutely key. The starting pitching is going to have to step it up with the offense hurting, and the last two starts are very good signs.
-Michael Kopech was a little wild yesterday, but effectively so. 4 walks and 4 Ks, but no earned runs. I would’ve like to have seen him work out of the jam he created for himself in the 9th, but I also understand the move to Hendriks.
-Next up is a series against the division-leading Royals down in BBQ City. Taking 2 of 3 would go a long way to staking their claim to the AL Central, and nobody really believes that the Royals are for real which can be dangerous. Get it done.
The trade deadline approaches while the Hawks still manage to stay afloat, and baseball season is upon us and everyone has grand scale thoughts on the miniscule sample size. Find it all in the usual spots.