1. The White Sox reacted to poor play with a benching, mashed on offense, and sealed the Thursday's game in Detroit after a cagey managerial decision. Were they kidnapped? Are we dead?
In fairness, Tigers starter Alfredo Simon is not very good, despite a superficially strong first half of the season, and Robin Ventura's ninth inning strategy boiled down to "AHHHHH!!! MIGUEL CABRERA!!!!! RUN!!!!!" so let's try to keep things in context so that we're not too aghast when the Sox are getting clubbed again Friday night, but this was the strong and surprisingly sharp performance that a team that was glancing over the edge Wednesday needed.
They executed well, their defense made plays, they looked competitive. They nearly blew it still, and won 8-7 in 10 innings with the Detroit's tying run on third when the final out was recorded, but that fits what we know. The White Sox best looks decent, but it not remarkable at all.
2. Robin's strategy in the ninth inning getting mentioned this high is rarely a good thing, but the Sox sealed a one-run win after Ventura had his struggling closer load the bases and push the tying run 90-feet ahead in order to avoid Miguel Cabrera in favor of pinch-hitter Josh Wilson. Robertson, who had already allowed three hits and an unintentional walk in the inning, fanned Wilson and very sheepishly celebrated his 15th save.
The basics of win probability say Ventura nearly doubled the Tigers win probability by moving the tying run to third and the go-ahead run into scoring position, but we're talking about switching off a friggin' Hall of Famer to a 34-year-old journeyman utility infielder with a career wRC+ of 63. Robertson is elite, but was clearly making bad command mistakes and nearing 30 pitches. Instead of dueling with Miggy, Ventura went for the win and gave his closer a vastly superior matchup with someone with less familiarity with his deception. It seems obvious when you stack it all together, but there's an orthodoxy about moving runners up that Ventura had to push past.
3. What to make of such an offensive performance? Just be amazed that the Sox scored eight runs while Jose Abreu struck out four times? Take note of what you can do on offense when you do something besides slap singles? This game was decided by a Carlos Sanchez triple, so there's some fluke element here, but they had 10 guys reach base safely and Adam Eaton remains on the upswing.
The Sox kinda rolled over and died for a few innings after jumping all over Simon, then continued their mystical hold on Joba Chamberlain for the win, which was kind of weird, but mostly I'm just so, so, so thankful they didn't put us through this madness again and hit some damn doubles.
4. Thursday was the full 'Carlos Rodon is a 22-year-old rookie who took two breaths in the minors before getting promoted' experience. He threw overwhelming sliders that no one could handle all day, showed plus velocity, and threw himself out of the game after five innings and burned up a lead with command mistakes.
In a non-Sale world, even elite pitching prospects need time to come together fresh out of college. We know what he can improve, but the promise was strong as ever.
5. So what was accomplished Thursday in terms of discipline and consequences? Eaton got his stern talking to, started and played great, if somewhat subdued and determined. He sprinted around the bases after his leadoff home run which...is probably what he's always going to do because the experience of him homering is too bizarre to be savored.
Alexei got straight-up benched for a mental break day, but was back in the game for the eighth inning after alternate infield whipping boy Conor Gillaspie botched a play of his own, and Ramirez mixed whipping a double with a hideous strikeout in the tenth that necessitated 'Carlos Sanchez two-out, go-ahead banana boat triple' into existence. These are meaningless one-game results, but I don't really know what else to glance at after grown men are put on timeout for the public's satisfaction. Thursday was far and away the infield's best showing in several outings, but most of that lifting came from the double play team of Gordon Beckham and Carlos Sanchez. Culture of accountability, perhaps!? Eh...at least they did something.
6. Jake Petricka's ERA is down to 3.20 after two scoreless innings Thursday. He's now had nine scoreless outings out of his last 10, so I guess he's on fire. Petricka being on fire doesn't mean much more than his groundballs are getting sucked up these days, as opposed bleeding him dry by going for seeing-eye singles. Oddly enough, this was his second-straight multi-inning outing after a slate of very short ones. Longer work seems like the ideal role for him since he can't strike anyone out and is more skilled at limiting the damage.
Robertson, Zach "Cy Young" Putnam, Petricka, Daniel Webb are pitching well, and Zach Duke is not getting annihilated so much any more. The Sox have a pretty good bullpen, which just draws out what they're bad at into further relief.
7. Big, burly 22-year-old right-hander Francellis Montas has been invited to represent the Sox at the Futures Game at All-Star Weekend. The Double-A standout is the only Sox representative at the Futures Game, which is really a mark of stability more than a particularly barren system. Montas has a shiny 2.55 ERA over 60 innings, but his strikeout numbers have become pedestrian as he's spent the year plodding away trying to develop more consistency and variation in his fastball. He's putting in work in to try to explore his potential as a starter, and as such has been a mainstay racking up results on the Barons.
Meanwhile, if say Carlos Sanchez or Micah Johnson had been in Triple-A all year instead of flip-flopping with one another, one of them would be in this game. Carlos Rodon obviously would be suiting up if he hadn't graduated out (not that there was much of a chance of that), and Tim Anderson is just barely too raw for this honor. There have been worse White Sox showings at the Futures Game. Believe this.
8. Dispatches from the Arizona Rookie League
Micker Adolfo is a large man
His strikeout totals are also large. But he is 18. He should live his life and swing away.
Jesse Crain has now made two rehab appearances in the AZL in the past week, the second one was a scoreless inning with two strikeouts. A safe bet is he never makes it back, but he's worth rooting for.
9. Ethan has no regard for his own survival when it comes to praising Friday's starter.
There is a definitive statistical similarity between the Cubs' ace and the Sox yeoman no-decision gatherer, which might be even more compelling if the Sox moribund offense hadn't slowly dragged down U.S. Cellular Field's park factors. Or at least that's our pet theory.
10. Tigers starter for Friday night Anibal Sanchez looks to be completely out of his early-season funk. He's gone seven innings or more in each of his last five starts and lowered his ERA by a run and a half during that time. So much for mercy.