Rocky Mountain Finale - Game Preview & Lineups 4/9

When last night’s game started, the White Sox record was 3-4, and their Pythagorean record was also 3-4. When the game ended, their record was 4-4, and their Pythagorean record moves to 5-3. That’s the power of offense. We anticipated that there would be some, just not to that extent. So today, let’s anticipate some more, and hope our expectations are once again exceeded.

The runs will be coming in support of Erik Johnson, who had a rough outing in his 2014 debut. He never escaped the 5th, he gave up 7 runs, he issued more walks (3) than he did strikeouts (2). He did keep the ball in the park, but then, his start came against the Royals, and as I sit here writing this they still haven’t hit a single homerun this year. If his opponent helped him keep that part of his game in check last time out, today’s opponent is probably going to do the opposite. I’ve referenced the thin, offense-inducing air in Denver a number of times over the last couple of days and I probably don’t have to explain that with a day game we’re probably looking at an environment even more primed for offense. So, Mr. Johnson, ummm, good luck.

Thankfully facing the same set of environmental circumstances is Juan Nicasio. His lone outing this year was much more impressive than Johnson’s. He tossed 7 shining 4-hit innings against the Diamondbacks on Friday while striking out 6. Historically this is not Juan Nicasio behavior. The last two seasons have Nicasio turning in ERA’s north of 5, 2013 being his first with a full-time slate of innings. It’s worth noting, as long as I’m obsessing about Colorado’s hitting-friendly ballpark, that Nicasio shows no real home/road split in his nearly 300 total innings, all of which have been with the Rockies. He’s an equal opportunity distributor of runs and the White Sox are averaging over 6 runs a game. I’d put my money on Nicasio’s ERA looking a bit more like his career average by the time he wakes up tomorrow.

After launching one of his two homeruns on the night, Jose Abreu could be seen giving a hug to White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson as he sat perched in the dugout. My thoughts were that perhaps Steverson had whispered some wisdom in Abreu’s ear concerning a mechanical defect that was contributing to his hitless stretch and Jose was there to thank him for the assistance. That might be so, or it might just be one of the many subplots that play in the background of my often preoccupied mind during the course of a baseball game. Abreu himself gives credit to his mother for setting him up for his first big league home run(s).

Flowers took an early exit from last night's contest after going 2-4 with a HR. With that, along with it being so early in the season, he's making the day after night start behind home plate. Also you pretty much always want the guy leading the league in batting average in the lineup as much as possible, right? Or at least during the short period that he's able to maintain that title. 

It’s a rubber match, as they say, and if the White Sox continue to hover around .500 the whole season we’ll be watching a whole lot of these before the year is done.

Today’s Lineup:

  1. Eaton – CF
  2. Semien – 2B
  3. Abreu – 1B
  4. Viciedo - LF
  5. Gillaspie – 3B
  6. Garcia - RF
  7. Ramirez – SS
  8. Flowers – C
  9. Erik Johnson - P

Rockies Lineup:

  1. Blackmon - CF
  2. Cuddyer - RF
  3. Gonzalez - LF
  4. Rosario - C
  5. Morneau - 1B
  6. Arenado – 3B
  7. Culberson - SS
  8. LeMahieu – 2B
  9. Juan Nicasio - P

Where to Watch:

Today’s game will be broadcast on CSN and it’s not airing on local television in Denver for reasons I cannot explain. 2:10 Central start time.