Jose Abreu hit his 29th home run on Saturday, a 2-run shot that would give the White Sox a lead they would not surrender on their way to victory. Abreu's blast was a laser to opposite field in the fourth inning off a Zach McAllister who had yet to give up a hit to that point. Despite a stint on the 15-day DL with an ankle injury, despite being a rookie, and despite playing through ankle injury for a while before succumbing the DL, Jose Abreu leads the majors in home runs coming into today.
Abreu would need to homer today off Trevor Bauer in order to reach 30. If he does so, he will be only the second rookie ever to reach 30 home runs at the All Star Break - joining Mark McGwire who had 33. It's been a rough couple of years to be a White Sox fan, and although at times it is easy to grow impatient with the 2014 version, it's important to savor the individual performances that are truly a joy.
Scott Carroll bought himself another turn or two through the rotation yesterday as well, by throwing 5 shutout innings. Carroll kept the ball on the ground for the most part, and only walked one batter, yielding only 2 hits somehow. This was paired with Andre Rienzo being optioned back to AAA Charlotte, temporarily removing one of Carroll's main rivals for the 5th starter spot. Carroll could have kept going, as his pitch count was only 78, but he left the game with back tightness. Although his word is not the same as a doctor's, Carroll does not anticipate needing to miss his next start after having the All Star Break to rest.
Saturday also saw four innings of the bullpen being largely adequate, and the pitching got a boost from Dayan Viciedo of all people who made a lovely diving catch, somehow avoiding a trap with some nifty glove positioning in left.
Alexei Ramirez also had to leave the game early with back pain/discomfort/tightness. Ramirez is almost never injured, so this came as a bit of a surprise. However, he says he still intends to go and play in the All Star Game. Players frequently skip the All Star Game due to phantom injuries, so I interpret Alexei's willingness to stay on the roster as a sign that it is not very serious. Alcides Escobar waits in the wings for the AL, I suppose. The word is that for Sunday the White Sox will fill Rienzo's roster spot with Carlos Sanchez instead of a pitcher.
Adam Eaton will likely sit for his second game in a row as he is battling a number of bumps and bruises, none of which sound serious. Given the All Star Break, this gives Eaton a chance to basically sit for a week while only missing two games. I think it would benefit everybody to get him back to 100%.
Matt Lindstrom has also taken a step closer toward returning, throwing a 30-pitch bullpen session and doing some light fielding drills. While he figures to return sometime around the July 31st trade deadline, he may manage to come back in time to bring some sort of modest return at the August 31st Waiver Trade Deadline. He's been injured and only moderately effective, but the injury was not to his arm, so maybe some playoff team will want the depth.
This afternoon, John Danks squares off against Trevor Bauer. The matchup presents a stark juxtaposition of styles as Danks continues to adapt to his post-injury reality as a "Crafty Lefty (TM)" with somewhat encouraging results. Bauer is a former uber prospect who throws really hard and struggles mightily with his command.
With a win, the White Sox would move to 46-50 on the extended "first half" of the season, which puts them right about on pace for where preseason predictions had them - just slightly below .500. On the one hand, it makes you wonder what might have been had Erik Johnson pitched closer to what was hoped for him, or if Nate Jones hadn't been lost to injury, but then that's part of evaluating a team for an entire baseball season - how well will they be able to deploy depth in the face of injuries?
It's better than 2013, anyway.
1. Alejandro de Aza - LF
2. Carlos Sanchez - SS
3. Jose Abreu - DH
4. Adam Dunn - 1B
5. Dayan Viciedo - RF
6. Conor Gillaspie - 3B
7. Gordon Beckham - 2B
8. Tyler Flowers - C
9. Leury Garcia - CF
SP - John Danks
This offense is not looking very intimidating at the moment. Gordon Beckham and Tyler Flowers have been in prodigious slumps, and Leury Garcia is in the process of lowering his career .470 OPS. Still, worth watching to get a look at Carlos Sanchez both in the field and at the plate.
1. Jason Kipnis - 2B
2. Asdrubal Cabrera - SS
3. Michael Brantley - CF
4. Carlos Santana - 1B
5. Ryan Raburn - RF
6. Nick Swisher - DH
7. Yan Gomes - C
8. Lonnie Chisenhall - 3B
9. Mike Aviles - LF
SP - Trevor Bauer
Where to watch: 12:05pm CT - WGN and SportsTime Ohio
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