This is something I'm going to start doing every weekday morning (and weekends when I can) to compile my White Sox thoughts, factoids and fascinations into one digestible morning dose.
1. Tuesday night's 10-9 walk-off loss in Toronto was Robin Ventura's deserved reward for having the gall to try to effectively manage a team that's been doomed by the hands of fate. He pushed all the right buttons as the leverage amped up, only to have the button jam at a crucial moment and the control room burst into flames around him. Then the fire extinguished was filled with silly string.
After getting pillaged for sitting on a replay challenge earlier in the season, Ventura immediately challenged Jose Abreu getting called out racing to beat out an inning-ending double play in the eighth. That he won the challenge is a secondary consideration to him recognizing that the go-ahead run was at stake (the Sox drove in two runs via fielder's choice Tuesday. #FCOffense!), and that his challenge opportunities were dwindling. One-upping himself, in the bottom half of the eighth, with the tying run on third and a tough right-handed matchup in Russell Martin, Ventura was sharp again bringing out his $46 million, lights-out closer. The decision got him out of the eighth, but prompted grief-stricken second-guessing when Robertson was bombed by Josh Donaldson in the ninth for a walk-off blast. Beyond Robertson being the most effective member of the pitching staff by a mile and damn sure getting paid enough for the occasional four-out save, initial inquiries into whether multi-inning outings are some absurd cross to bear for a guy who only recently became a closer anyway turned up....naaah.
2. The White Sox had 14 hits Tuesday night! Nine runs! Everyone in the lineup had a hit! The only players who didn't reach base twice were Jose Abreu (who clocked a three-run homer), and Gordon Beckham (Hasn't he done enough already?!). Removed from the feelings of doom that permeated the fan base, this was the offensive outburst we've been waiting for...OR...it was a bad offense showing again, like it did against Milwaukee and Oakland, that it can score against teams that are awful at preventing runs. It was great to see Abreu's power stroke in action again, but it would be nice if it came against something more easily found in the wild than 40-year-old R.A. Dickey fastballs. Whatever, we'll take what we can get.
3. Boy oh boy John Danks looked bad out there Tuesday. The changeup can still bend knees — and did just that in his fifth inning showdown with Jose Bautista just before Baseball's Greatest Troll (I kinda mean this as a compliment) boomed a go-ahead two-run double over Adam Eaton's head, but he was never the plus-plus command guy he has to be to operate on the inner half of the plate these days. He once had very respectable 93 mph velocity to put hitters on their heels, and enough bite on his cutter to jam up anyone trying to protect for the fastball. Now he's either conceding that half of the zone, or is only there by mistake. His ERA could easily come down from 5.69 ERA with a good hot streak of command, but there's just not much hope for sustained success.
4. Not helping Danks' case was the relay situation down the right field line. J.B. Shuck and Carlos Sanchez looked like two guys who hadn't even thrown it to each other in pre-game practice. Shuck double-clutching, followed by Sanchez dropping his feed allowed an ultimately crucial seventh inning run to cross for Toronto in a game they won by a single run. The reminder that defensive tools =/= defensive cohesion is never a pleasant one.
5. Speaking of which — not that he's some defensive savior, but at least he's familiar with right field at this point--Avisail Garcia, who somehow convinced other adults he could play Monday night, is now on the dreaded 'resting him to avoid the DL' watch for his balky knee. He's going to miss Wednesday's game and I would probably bet on some more given the way he tried to hop down to first on a pogo stick Monday. We'll see how the Sox do without their hottest hitter, for the most part, the answer has been "deflate like a balloon filled with sewage water."
6. Alexei Ramirez not only got the start Tuesday after his stinkbomb beginning to the Toronto series that ended with his ducking the press (more evidence of him being in a funk than an egregious break of etiquette), he batted fifth, collected two hits, drove in a run and scored. He gave a rather weak "I did what I could" answer to questions about his disastrous pirouette move that blew a double play Monday, but at least he was able to stave off a malaise of a lost season for a day. For the record, Ramirez's 88 wRC+ since taking over the full-time shortstop gig in 2009 is comfortably above league-average, his fielding percentage is as much as one full percent lower, but is widely agreed upon by defensive metrics and scouting to be more than compensated for by his range and arm strength. Every time he makes stupid mistakes doesn't merit a referendum on his value as a player.
7. Beyond goof-ups on relays and striking out miserably to kill a comeback effort last week, J.B. Shuck is the solid contact-oriented reserve outfielder he was billed to be. He has the White Sox power hitting disease, but it's coupled with a .341 OBP and four strikeouts in 40 plate appearances.
8. Before he was victimized by that bad relay, Jake Petricka was throwing smoke in his two innings of relief for John Danks. His heavy, sinking fastball is really something when he actually has a secondary pitch to drive people off of it with. His reported work with David Robertson on his slider produced some nasty snappers that struck out Danny Valencia and Ryan Goins; not exactly murderer's row, but the competition wasn't close in his first inning of work.
9. Jeff Samardzija starts an impossibly early series finale in Toronto Wednesday. You might remember him from looking like the guy the Sox traded presumptive AL MVP Marcus Semien (this is a joke, guys) for during the off-season in his last time out vs. the Twins. Command is the key for Samardzija, but it's going to be anyone's guess if it's going to show up, inning-to-inning, likely for the rest of his career. Perhaps a Getaway Day lineup will make it easier on him to float past some mistakes on his slider. Beckham being in Wednesday's lineup means there are two Sox hitters entering the game with an OPS over .700, instead of just one. Rejoice!
10. Both Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes did little "stir it up" motions after big hits Tuesday. As much as it seems unlikely that anyone would bother to mock a tremendously sad team's one solace in life, Bautista is a perfect machine of antipathy and I assume the worst.