TCS Afternoon 10: Scintillating baseball

1. What a rapturous night of pitching and baseball. The Chris Sale vs. Mark Buehrle matchup lived up to hype in the most brisk and watchable way, with the former matching the latter penchant for quick innings and soft contact. The momentary horror that the Blue Jays aggressive approach would (and it did) spell doom for Chris Sale's double-digit strikeout streak was ameliorated by sharply played competitive sprint the Sox engaged the Blue Jays in while a very feisty crowd of just under 25,000 watched.

That the offense actually spun to life and leveraged a game-winning rally off the defensive mistakes of the opposition instead of vice versa, capped a night of nostalgia, both spurred by having Buehrle back at U.S. Cellular, and rekindling dreams of the team we expected the Sox to be and can always glimpse when Sale is on the mound. 

2. Amped Sale, sometimes identified as Pissed Sale, showed up early and often Monday night, regularly reaching back for 99 mph, and regularly flying open and just missing his spots like mad. Combined with the Blue Jays hacking and his eventual and inevitable settling in, it quickly became one of his most efficient, if not jaw-dropping nights.

Sale's 108-pitch complete game, six strikeouts and two dingers included, actually was his lowest pitch count outing since the Twins knocked him out after three innings and 73 pitches on April 30.

3. There was an obvious touch of brilliance to the Blue Jays hacking strategy: why wait to go deep into the count against some guy with elite stuff and command? Especially when he's backed by a bad defense? It spared them the disservice of being a footnote to history and was a fine example of how the league adjusts to rampant success rather than submit to be killed. Gordon Beckham being deployed at third, and the rest of the defense being on their best behavior meant the Jays just worked very hard to assure themselves of having to deal with Sale all game, but perhaps there aren't many great anti-ace attacks.

4. It still is fun watching Buehrle mess up hitters timing with mid-80's slop spotted all over the place. It's the flukiest crap in the world that he can fling a looping 84 mph cutter at Jose Abreu's letter and get him to fire his hips a millisecond early, except he did it to the big man at least four times Monday night.

As Jose Reyes showed all too well, a guy like Buehrle needs a good defense behind to shine like the rare gem he is, so there surely would have been drawbacks to having him around these past few years, but I haven't forgotten his instructions after he signed his four-year deal with the Marlins to think of it as him leaving, but just going away for four years.

An inexpensive twilight homecoming deal sounds sweet, even if possibly pushing Danks out of the rotation for geriatric Buehrle is too on the nose as far as statements about how the last four years have gone.

5. Also, maybe it would be needed since Erik Johnson has now not pitched since June 26 for an unannounced reason.

6. ESPN's own Nick Friedell's rained on the enthusiasm of the night by pointing out the still relatively-light attendance for the game. I think I have identified the tweet that specifically drove the ire, probably the one that suggest media abandon their coverage of the White Sox altogether. 

There are a number of reasons I find Friedell's argument troubling: It's very narrow-minded to view a team's following solely through attendance. it's boiling down the reasoning for devoting coverage to something solely to reading numbers and responding, rather than assessing something's merit, like "Hey, two great pitchers are squaring off." And it's setting a very high cutoff for something being worthy of attention that would be death to fledgling sports that may deserve it. Media has to search out what they think will get a response or what deserves it just as much if not more than they should simply react to what everyone's already talking about.

There are more quibbles (Sale vs. Buehrle only became a thing due to a rotation shift made less than a week ago, etc.) but I actually found Friedell's attendance quibble interesting because it was the rare media attendance comment that didn't blame fans not coming out on...the fans. Friedell is castigating the Sox for not drawing, which is right on point, because it's their fault. If the Sox ever did slide off into irrelevancy, it'll be because they didn't provide enough nights like Monday, not because the fans didn't appreciate it.

7. Watch this video of Melky's go-ahead double. Watch it hard. 

:15 - In the background, there is clearly a jubilant Conor Gillaspie in the dugout. How this video has not been pulled from the internet is beyond me.

:20 - Melky's "The World is Mine! Who can refute this?" pose

:21 - Stirring it up. With a large wooden spoon this time for the drink has been very stirred. 

:22 - The peace sign over the eyes thing. I don't know what it means but they've been doing it since Spring.

:23 - A....what...what the hell is that? Is he miming having a cape? Is he patting his imaginary horse in approval? (Good horse, good)  Is this a fart joke? Is it all a fart joke? Has it always been a fart joke?

8. Chris Sale was named to his fourth-straight All-Star Game Monday, where he will be the lone Sox representative. I can't even imagine what level of carnage would have to take place to push what...David Robertson, Jose Abreu into the fray? Robertson doesn't have enough saves to rise above this seemingly massive crop of relievers being considered (Brad Boxberger is in this damn game!), and Abreu would have to fight his way through other solid but unspectacular first basemen like Eric Hosmer.

Sale has obviously earned his way, but the question is whether his pyrotechnics have earned him the right to leapfrog Chris Archer and Sonny Gray's superior run prevention stats. My guess would be a strong "No."

9. This is after all, an AL roster that left off A-Rod (he wasn't even in the final vote!) and Brian Dozier, and included seven relievers. And the National League team doesn't have Clayton Kershaw. I would be upset but this is a White Sox blog. I need to share the wealth. Well, most days I need to share the wealth. Not today.

10. Tuesday night is Jose Quintana vs. Felix Doubront. A DECLINE IN QUALITY IS ANTICIPATED.