TCS Morning 10: Slightly more professional losses

1. Wednesday night, the White Sox went down three runs to the streaking Pirates in the first seven minutes of the game, stretched their scoreless streak to 30 innings, and Robin Ventura got himself ejected in the fourth inning arguing against the ruling that Melky Cabrera staggered over so much after striking out against Jeff Locke that he interfered with Francisco Cervelli trying to throw out Adam Eaton at second. 

The White Sox did such a thorough job convincing all onlookers that they would not only lose their sixth-straight, but in increasingly humiliating fashion, that it was a small delight when they slapped together a mini-rally to bring the game to 3-2 and actually got meaningful, late-inning at-bats to flop in. They haven't so much lowered the bar as they've kicked it to the ground and buried it six-feet under, and now they can clear it even when they're rolling in the dirt. 

2. John Danks employed this strategy to even greater effect, since after he allowed three of the first four batters to reach (the only exception was a curious decision to have Starling Marte bunt in the first inning after a leadoff double) punctuated by a Jung Ho Kang home run, he had his best outing of the month of June. He breezed through seven innings, allowing just two more singles for the rest of the night and flashing some of the best changeups of the season. 

It'd be a fine outing, and a really nice outing for him given what he's been through, but he plays for the Sox, so it was an insurmountable lead.

3. The Sox really just ran into an inning of cluster luck, since they were held to four hits again, and jumped on iffy Pirates starter Jeff Locke as his control wavered in the sixth after he faced the minimum over the first three innings. Still, a shocking RBI double from the right side of Melky Cabrera and an RBI single from Avisail Garcia means Jose Abreu got to step to the plate in the eighth inning representing the go-ahead run.

He struck out.

4. Worse yet, the one-run margin means Melky backing his butt into Cervelli after whiffing was the difference in the game. It wasn't a blatant must-call, but it's the type of careless stumbling the Sox have gotten called for twice now, and it wiped a runner out of scoring position just before Abreu singled to right.

Given the streak the Sox were on, it seems less likely that Robin picked up his 11th career ejection on the merits of the call, but more likely to fight against the scarcity of the opportunity that was squandered, or just to visibly give a crap about a game that seemed lost from the first pitch.

5. Cabrera otherwise had a two-hit night, and increased his total of knocks against lefties on the season from six to eight. At this point Melky would have to catch fire for a week or more to get his slugging percentage back over .300, so tracking his progress will be very difficult, but at this point we can count his positive showings on one hand.

6. You know things are going great when the GM makes a public statement trying to assure that they're not going to immediately trade the whole roster, fire the manager and raze the stadium to the ground.

From Scott Merkin:

There’s not a magic number. It’s about a combination of can we reasonably expect to get back in this thing, based on where we are from a personnel standpoint, where we are from a health standpoint, remaining schedule, how our opponents look? It’s not once we get to X number of games back on this date, we’re done
— Rick Hahn

This is a sharp way of downplaying the idea of immediate action while saying that you can read the writing on the wall. The answer is "No," the Sox cannot reasonably expect to crawl back into it at this rate. Their May schedule is where there was a soft underbelly, while this current slate is tough enough that a ~.500 showing would have been solid even for a Sox club that was meeting expectations. Instead, the Sox went .500 against the dregs of the league in May and are now getting their teeth kicked in by the class of the league. They're cruising toward ending the month 10 games under .500 with statistical evidence suggesting they're lucky to be there.

7. But as for Robin?

Until a player is traded or there’s been a change on the staff or in the front office or with an advanced scout or whatever, we are all in this 100 percent together. We are all accountable together and we are all doing everything in our energy and efforts to put ourselves in the best position to win. Should we get to the point where any of that changes, you’ll know and we’ll explain why.
— Rick Hahn

Effectively saying "he's not fired until he's fired" but without any of the graveness or severity that wording things that way would provide.

8. So Trayce had a night, and has been having a decent stretch.

This run of power production has been enough to boost his slugging percentage at Triple-A Charlotte to .481, the shiniest that stat line has looked in a while. And with a perpetually parched offense, fans of course see a hot Triple-A hitter and wonder if he can help. Perhaps it's lingering Dayan trauma, but Trayce was such a raw prospect, who has taken so long to gain a feel to overcome a very poor hit tool, refine his approach and tap into his power, that I think the safest thing to do would be still to just give him the whole season and grant a September call-up. Thompson's introduction to MLB is inevitably going to be rough, even if he somehow hangs and becomes a contributor. Rushing him to help the team now is misguided.

9. After falling behind 3-0 Wednesday night in a blink, the Sox have now been outscored 56-19 in the first inning of games. Better yet, Jeff Samardzija and his 11.08 first inning ERA for the season is starting Thursday. Maybe that .431 ERA for the inning will come down and it will all be normal again. 

10. NL ERA leader Gerrit Cole starts for the Pirates Thursday. He's got stiff competition in the league Cy Young but since the Sox have scored two runs on 10 hits in 27 innings against the Pirates this week, he's probably about to get some help.