The Royals are a pain in the White Sox's ass. If it weren't official before, I'm making it official after Wednesday's 7-5 defeat that saw beanballs, gopherballs, and a myriad of other weird stuff. Let's get to it:
- As expected, Robin Ventura went with a slightly altered lineup against the left-handed Danny Duffy, with Adam LaRoche dropping down to No. 6 in the order and Gordon Beckham (#TheReturn) spelling Conor Gillaspie at third base. He also gave Carlos Sanchez the start at second, leading one to wonder when and how he'll decide to alternate between the two youngsters.
- Jose Quintana followed up Jeff Samardzija's subpar opener with a stinker of his own. His command was awful, which sounds strange when you see he walked just one batter, but he also hit two guys and grooved an 88-mph fastball down the middle of the plate that Eric Hosmer crushed for a three-run home run.
- Speaking of the hit batters, the White Sox and Royals seem destined to brawl — or at least all run out and push each other for a few seconds — at some point this year. While the hit batters were clearly a matter of Quintana's lost command, the Royals didn't take kindly after being plunked twice in Monday's opener, too. Whether or not Duffy's "retalitation" pitch that zoomed behind LaRoche was the "spark" the White Sox needed (it came with two outs and was followed two batters later by Tyler Flowers' three-run homer) is unquantifiable, but it certainly led to a lot of unnecessary stupid.
- Jose Abreu flashed his defensive prowess during a 1-for-4 day at the plate. He made a nice catch over the railing on an Alcides Escobar foul pop-up in the first, nailed Salvador Perez at the plate on a grounder in the fourth inning, and made a strong throw in starting a 3-6-3 double play on Hosmer in the sixth. I wrote earlier Wednesday about how the White Sox's defense needs to just be average to give the team a chance, but Abreu isn't exactly who I had in mind when I wrote that.
- Why in the hell do the White Sox keep trying to run on Perez? Seriously, just stop.
- The bullpen saw its first high-leverage action of the season with Quintana only able to go five innings and the score tied at 5 when Javy Guerra took over. It was interesting for Ventura to go with Guerra over one of the new shutdown guys — such as Zach Duke — and even more so when the left-handed Hosmer came up with runners on first and second and one out. But Ventura stuck with Guerra and he got Hosmer to hit into a double play. There are two schools of thought on this: On one hand, kudos to Ventura for not pulling a reliever the second he gets into trouble, something he did too often in 2014 and led to things like Leury Garcia pitching in the 14th inning. On the other hand, that Hosmer at-bat is exactly what you acquire someone like Duke for, so why not use him?
- Speaking of Duke, he did, in fact, make his White Sox debut the following inning and pitched mostly well. He got squeezed in a walk of Alex Gordon and gave up a sharp single to Alex Rios (what the hell, Alex?), but looked good in retiring the next two hitters to get out of the inning unscathed.
- The same could not be said, unfortunately, for Zach Putnam, who entered in the eight inning and threw Cain an absolute meatball — an 87-mph splitter acording to MLB.com's Pitch Tracker, that Cain crushed to give the Royals their deciding runs.
- One other managerial decision worth noting: After Sanchez singled with one out in the seventh, Ventura pulled him for pinch-runner Johnson, who was promptly erased on a fielder's choice by Adam Eaton. Everyone, and I would presume even Ventura, would agree that Sanchez is a superior defensive second baseman to Johnson. My question is whether Johnson's speed is that much better than Sanchez's to accept the defensive downgrade during the final two innings. It was all moot in this case, as Johnson's speed didn't help the Sox that inning and his defense didn't harm them afterward, but it's certainly something to watch going forward.
The next game is Thursday at 1:10 p.m. with John Danks taking on Jason Vargas.
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