TCS Morning 10: Adam Eaton's irresistible power

1. Just for novelty's sake, playing a long, sloppy game where the offense bails everyone out is a lot more fun than it has a right to be. Adam Eaton's surprisingly annihilated (okay, just 398-feet, but this is not a large dude) walk-off bomb ended a 7-6 slugfest the featured 16 Sox hits, and broke their 24-game streak of home games with four runs or less.

In contrast to Tuesday night's tortured quest to convert their few scoring opportunities into something resembling a passable MLB effort, the Sox took 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position, converted them rather lazily, and wound up with a wealth of runs anyway. This was still kind of an uneven effort, as they jumped all over a terrible-looking Drew Hutchison for three runs right off the bat, before letting him settled in a bit, but jeez, the Sox scored seven runs. This was a festival.

2. Since this blast, his sixth of the year, means Adam Eaton has now hit half of the MLB home runs he's hit in his career in just over half of the 2015 season, we probably need to address his power being a thing. It'd be fun to make a tongue-in-cheek "Eaton is on the juice!" joke, but it couldn't be farther from what's happening. He's the same guy, but is suddenly putting loft into his swing a lot more frequently.

Wednesday night's bomb was a huge uppercut swing that Eaton has showed off previously this season. Back when he was rolling last year, Eaton rarely would have leveraged so much in his swing, he was having too much success pulling off the ball and spraying flares. Now, with his average lacking and less batted ball luck, Eaton is taking some more power cuts. It would probably be better if it wasn't a long-term adaptation but who is going to fire shade at it today?

3. John Danks started the night with two perfect innings, flashing low-90s on the radar gun again, and throwing a curveball that even had a little snap to it.

Then he was out of the game by the fifth inning.

Despite some shutout flourishes, Danks has been pretty consistently bad throughout the year, but short-term flashes like this one make his life as a reliever seem feasible. Maybe he's not a matchup specialist, but you could get value out of him if you didn't have to be judicious about pulling him out of his self-made fires.

Which is to say, his life as starter should be nearing an end.

4. Robin Ventura didn't get much affirmation from Jose Abreu batting out of the No. 2 hole Wednesday. He flew out to end the sixth with a chance to drive in the go-ahead run, struck out to end the eighth with a chance to pretty much win the game, and Eaton just went ahead and took the situation out of his hands in the 11th.

Of course, this came after Abreu had already collected two hits and scored twice earlier in the game, and even having him up in these two-out, high leverage situations is a managerial victory for Ventura. He got his best hitter up in situations where he needed a hit--not just a ball in play.

Since the Sox don't have enough good hitters to even fill out a customary lineup, the best thing Abreu in the No. 2 hole is cluster the good hitters efficiently as possible, so at least Eaton and Abreu's competence can work in tandem. Abreu is hitting .316/.333/.526 in nine games since the move and has scored or driven 12 runs, continuing to match the projections everyone would have been thrilled with last year, if last year didn't happen.

5. Just a side note from his four-hit night, but Avisail Garcia being strong enough to muscle the occasional ball out to right field is not going to mean much if he just telegraphs that he'll hack anything on the outer half. His hit tool can be neat at times and he doesn't have the same contact issues when he's shooting the ball to right, but given that he backpedal plowed into the right field fence Wednesday night, he's not going to be a player of consequence unless he's a bigger offensive plus than he's presently set up to be, and his game becomes tailored for power.

He got a hanging breaker from Brett Cecil in the seventh and did the right thing with it, depositing it in the left field corner. Hopefully that gets him back in the right mode.

6. With as bad as Flowers started out, I was initially confused why Geo Soto didn't get all of his playing time once his bat showed the first hint of life. But not only did Flowers happen upon his stretch where he makes MLB ballparks look like miniature golf courses (he's hit .324/.343/.588 in the last 11 games), but he continues to be a star behind the plate. After Chris Sale basically admitted that Flowers captains the ship when they're paired together, he gunned out Edwin Encarnacion at second to complete an inning-ending strike 'em out, throw 'em out in the seventh, and guided Zach Duke through a couple of strikeouts on the margins of the zone in the eighth.

If Flowers is going to reclaim the catcher job, it does keep Soto free to do things like being the only competent right-handed bat of the bench. (Gordon Beckham is down to .199/.264/.321)

7. Boy, Rick Hahn really sounds like he's going to swap Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson again.

Micah’s swinging the bat real well, playing solid defense there and certainly is a viable option to help us here, as we said at the time when we sent him out. We fully expected at some point Micah to return. We’ve got a pretty good idea of what he would add to the roster if and when he does return.
— Rick Hahn

Luckily, his manager can come in and soften the blow on Sanchez.

It’s not like putting blame on anybody or anything like that. He’s done what he’s supposed to do. Would he want to hit better? Absolutely. Do we want him to do that? Absolutely. I think he will do that. But moving forward, you’re looking at what kind of pieces you can move around to kind of shake things up.
— Robin Ventura

Yikes. Sanchez, despite three hits the past two nights, has done plenty to earn his way out of the MLB lineup, and Johnson has held up his part of the bargain by playing well in Triple-A, it will just be interesting to see what, if anything, has actually changed in this short time that we've grown irritated with both.

8. Despite not pitching since June 26 as his arm is rested, Erik Johnson has been named the starter for the International League All-Star Game. Johnson finished June with a flourish by allowing just one earned run over 29 innings in his last four starts while striking out 36. This is an impressive road back for a guy who lost velocity last season and was mercilessly shelled by Triple-A competition throughout, but maaaan, what an island of misfit toys that All-Star roster is.

Besides Trayce Thompson, and starting DH (and soon-to-be non-prospect) Matt Davidson, this roster has Steve Clevenger, Irving Falu, and former Sox farm arms Gregory Infante, and Ozzie Guillen trade return Jhan Marinez.

9. Less rosy news from Triple-A: Javy Guerra tested positive for a "drug of abuse" and was suspended for 50 games. Guerra put up a shiny 2.91 ERA last year with questionable peripherals, and made the Opening Day roster, but quickly went on the shelf with shoulder issues and has done nothing in his short time at Triple-A to indicate he was ready to return.

This is the sort of thing that gets guys waived.

10. Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to start Thursday afternoon for the finale...but he doesn't have to! Let's get this deal done today, Toronto. No need to take another embarrassing L during a division race.