1. Make that 36 runs over five wins to start this road trip. It's been said about past iterations, but the ruin of the Sox did not come due to their inability or unwillingness to slay the bums of the league. Just as they revitalized themselves in May with a six-game win streak largely on the backs of the Brewers and the A's, they have launched a five-game streak off the backs of the sloppy Indians and now a hapless Red Sox team. The Sox offense has it struggles, but let it be known, after this 10-8 slugfest, the Sox can score runs against teams that are hopeless at run prevention.
This sounds like a joke but actually isn't it.
2. Red Sox starter Joe Kelly brought his usual combination of plus velocity and movement, all of which he split the plate with constantly. Maybe putting line drives in play worked well for him in St. Louis, but now his left fielder is Hanley Ramirez and he plains in grain silo, and has as strong of a case to get launched from his rotation spot as anyone in the league.
But the Sox--perhaps not the most disciplined team, but particularly power-starved this year--have showed out well when given something to hit. Specifically, and I hate to turn my back on appreciating home run pull power, the Sox were ready and willing to spray pitched on the outer half for extra bases. Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera hit two opposite-field extra-base hits apiece, and were joined by Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez in the practice.
3. Let's check out some July batting lines:
Melky Cabrera: .349/.372/.605, 164 wRC+
Adam Eaton: .284/.383/.494, 144 wRC+
Carlos Sanchez: .325/.350/.468, 126 wRC+
Tyler Saladino: .286/.317/.464, 111 wRC+
Jose Abreu: .289/.352/.422, 110 wRC+
Alexei Ramirez: .288/.329/.425, 103 wRC+
In only 18 PAs, Geovany Soto: .286/.444/.786
Tyler Flowers: .217/.230/.300, 39 wRC+
Avisail Garcia: .275/.326/.313, 74 wRC+
Adam LaRoche: .141/.176/.169, -13 wRC+, -1.0 fWAR for the month
Just in case it wasn't clear, managers are looking for defense and pitcher management out of the catcher's role.
4. Not included on that was J.B. Shuck hitting a passable .238/.292/.429, as part of a slap-happy .272/.337/.337 season. Calls for him to replace Eaton due to some key pinch-hits and occasional mistakes from Eaton in the field that Shuck could certainly reproduce in full-time play, were, and will continue to be completely insane.
However, his deployment Monday night offered a refreshing possibility, even if it shouldn't be exactly replicated in the future. Adam LaRoche's slump makes 'anyone else' a worthy substitution, but Shuck's best use could be adding more defense to the lineup. This season he's continued a career-long reverse platoon split: average against lefties, bad against righties, where I suppose his slappy, pulling-off style leaves him particularly vulnerable to changeups. LaRoche has been getting abused by lefties for three years now, so if Shuck is capable, there's no reason not to give Avisail Garcia--who faces an uncertain future but certainly isn't a value add on defense--a day out of the field, give LaRoche a day on the bench, and put out a Cabrera-Eaton-Shuck defense.
Additionally, on righty-starter days, Shuck is an even easier option than Soto--though not a better one--to replace LaRoche against LOOGYs. That can't happen again.
5. There is only one thing remarkable, or at least, unfamiliar, about this stat, which went out of date just before Monday night's game.
The curveball here, is that John Danks got a hot start in this five-game stretch, overcoming his threadbare margin for error in command. Quality start isn't a great stat, and getting sloppier what with run expectancies falling and workloads being relaxed, but when someone is nine of 18--now nine of 19--they're definitely hit and miss.
6. And Danks was missing spots from the start Tuesday. He demonstrated some interesting fade on his four-seam fastball, but it unfortunately only worked to put him behind in the count, and even worse, was about the only offering in his arsenal with any dynamic movement to it.
Danks not having it anymore wouldn't be a big attention-grabber if:
A) He wasn't holding down a more qualified applicant at a moment where the Sox are still effectively trying to win now. Danks is the man blocking Erik Johnson until it's confirmed it was Samardzija all along.
B) Ventura hadn't left him to pitch through a fourth-inning jam he clearly didn't have the tools to work through. Allowing Danks--a pitcher we already know is below-average--allow the fifth and sixth runs of the night when he clearly had nothing the first trip through the order was incoherent, and was only topped by responding to it by letting him start the fifth. It'd be one thing to have Danks giving it his all as a fifth-starter if he was actually afforded the leash of one, but the loyalty to him extends not just to giving him an unchallenged spot in the rotation, but the same cache to work through jams he once earned in his now-departed early 20's.
7. On Monday, Dan Hayes reported that the Blue Jays were pushing the hardest for Jeff Samardzija, but that team A) Just dumped Jeff Hoffman and some of its lottery tickets to the crazy hillpeople in the West in exchange for Troy Tulowitzki, and B) are now talking about dealing with a team they're within a few games of in the standings.
It's looking very murky.
8. Jake Petricka is going to have himself a career. He shouldn't be a closer again, and he'll never be flashy (26 K in 35.1 innings), but he's made a big leap in ability to throw that heavy, heavy mid-90's sinker at different heights in the zone, and it works on everyone. That 3.06 ERA is not a fluke, and given how much easier it might be to sell Zach Putnam's gonzo strikeout rate, he might be the reliever I'd rather hold to if I'm playing games in The Cell.
9. Boston's starter for Tuesday is Wade Miley, a very consistent lefty who has been unremarkable in every aspect save for relative durability since his standout 2011 rookie campaign. This should be the first deployment of the Shuck plan, but I doubt this game will suddenly get managed like a pennant race.
10. The White Sox are within five games of a playoff spot, and still have five teams between them an the last slot, and have scored less runs than any other team in baseball, even the Phillies and the Mets. I don't want to be dismissive of a team we all thought was better than they have been, but judging a team at the crest of a hot streak is also dangerous.
Continuing to win would be the safest response.