1. After a rough weekend against the Cubs and four runs in three games to start this awful West Coast swing, the Sox had their periodic and overdue "the offense is breaking out!" game to avoid a sweep in Anaheim with an 8-2 victory Thursday night. Given an opportunity against rookie spot starter Nick Tropeano (pitching because the Sox off capped Matt Shoemaker's downward spiral last week) and bullpen filler Cam Bedrosian, the Sox teed off, finally hitting their 100th home run of the season at a fairly embarrassingly late date in the year and smacking four doubles. Tropeano fell apart near the end of his second trip through the order and was left out to dry as he tried to work through the Sox best hitters with runners on. Bedrosian, on the other hand, was possibly just sent out to boost Avisail Garcia and Adam LaRoche's power numbers.
For the most part, I haven't felt regularly disappointed about how the Sox have responded to truly replacement level pitching this season, but they did just wave at Jered Weaver slop the previous night, so maybe we need to calm down.
In any case, a rare, fun romp was had in California, even if it took forever to do it. Did the state of California refuse to adopt pace of play rules?
2. Why not allow Robin Ventura and Mike Scioscia to manage against each other every day? How else could we ever see these two decisions not only in the same game, but the same inning?!:
--With runners on first and second and no one out in a 1-1 game in the fifth inning, facing a rookie starter with Geovany Soto--one of two guys on the entire team with an OPS over .800--Robin Ventura not only had him show bunt on the first two pitches, but kept at it after Soto went ahead 2-0. Soto eventually did lay it down in a 2-2 count just after missing a two-run double down the line by inches foul. This decision goes down as "quirky," because the Angels were so shocked that Soto scooted safely into first, loading the bases and prompting the huge inning instead of stunting it.
--As the Sox piled on Tropeano in the resulting big inning, with three runs in and runners on the corners for Jose Abreu, Scioscia had his already flagging rookie hurler go to a pitchout on a 2-2 count with the Sox best hitter by a mile. There was, as there is with every pitchout, nothing going on, and Abreu would later smash a two-run double on a full count to end Tropeano's night.
Maybe there was some 'calling their own number' going on with the Sox bunting in the middle of a potential and eventual big inning with one of their best hitters, or the Angels screwing their rookie pitcher over in a big at-bat, but the men in charge of the insanity bear the brunt.
3. I was all set to grouse about Adam LaRoche's "benching" constituting all of "most of one game" and Tyler Saladino working his way back to the No. 2 spot by way of hitting really poorly and striking out a lot, so of course they combined Thursday for four hits, three runs and three RBI. LaRoche's first hit to start off a five-run fifth was a little bleeder through the shift, but he compensated for that with an enormous eighth-inning blast to right-center to break his tie with Adam Eaton for home runs. Showing any kind of pulse should get him back in the regular mix, for better or worse.
CSN's Chris Kamka had to try and go and ruin the night with this, though.
4. Shoutout to Jose Quintana for throwing six innings and allowing just two runs despite having crud command and no curveball all night. Watching him grind through starts like this--where he basically had nothing for the Kole Calhoun-Mike Trout-Albert Pujols trio and either pitched around them or allowed runs--is not unheard of. It's basically what his entire 2012 season was. But it's interesting to note that he got saddled with Soto as his catching partner, and responded with a clunky outing that went by at a snail's pace, no thanks to the nearly half-dozen mound visits the pair needed to clear through all the static.
5. Rick Hahn spoke to media on Thursday, meaning Sox beats were freshly supplied with a supply of scoops about Hahn's vague leanings toward possible moves that could be considered, if we're being honest, at some point in the future, if humanity has a future, down the road, if this is in fact a road that we're on, and not a boulevard, or a promenade.
The main takeaway conversations with Hahn offered is that he realizes he will need to deal away from his pitching stores to boost the offense, and that Jose Quintana is not untouchable in the way he was before. Dan Hayes' article also mentions Carlos Rodon, which could reflect some frustration with his progress, or cynicism about their ability to iron out his command, though none of which means he's up for grabs.
The free agent hitting crop is consistently diminishing, and it's not like the Sox from last offseason cast a glow on the process, so dealing for some bats under contract could become inevitable. Let me say for the 900th time that, especially if this rotation could lose Quintana and Jeff Samardzija in one offseason, that I would like to see if Erik Johnson can handle big league hitters.
6. Hahn also gave votes of confidence to Robin Ventura and his staff in a manner I would probably find suspicious if it came from another organization, since talk about focusing on "winning tonight's game" and "wait for the offseason and evaluate all of us" are typical kisses of death.
We've been plenty vigilant at pointing out his shortcomings before, but this is the first roster Ventura has been given that entered the year with real expectations to win and busted, which is really the stuff that gets managers fired. Still, it's just hard to see such a strong company man with ties as deep to the organization's as Ventura's getting an ending that's not of his choosing.
7. in honor of the revered national holiday, Throwback Thursday, the White Sox will wear their old 1976 uniforms next Thursday; you know, the weird, collared softball uniforms that sometimes featured shorts. All the quotes from former players make it sound like the things were woven from silk.
Throwback jerseys are always worth it for the attention, if nothing else. I can't wait to identify every old person in my Twitter timeline by their gleeful nostalgia next week. Fashion-wise....it's a one-time thing and should be fun. The 1972 throwbacks were great, and I love the permanent place the 1983 jerseys have, but I see these babies and kind of wonder how this franchise wound up having the coolest uniforms in the majors. By the way, the current uniforms are the coolest uniforms in the majors.
8. Apparently Conor Gillaspie already got DFA'd by the Angels earlier this week? It did seem like they had a lot of third base options to still be carrying him on the roster. I suppose hitting .203/.250/.344 in platoon situations with increasingly terrible defense is not the way to endear yourself to a new club. Or any team. Conor changed his outlook from a guy looking to hit arbitration to someone scrounging for any MLB job real quick. He's the new Brent Lillibridge in that way. Speaking of which, Brent Lillibridge is retired, finishing his college degree and working his way into coaching back near his hometown in Washington.
9. Scott Miller of Bleacher Report has a fun column about the development of Chris Sale's unique three-quarters delivery. It's always newly surprising to read about seemingly absurd moments in the past where Chris Sale had a straight over the top delivery, or was a disaster during his freshman year at Florida Gulf Coast University. He's such a uniquely dominant and complex MLB pitcher, but so much of his arsenal and approach have been developed on the fly within the last five years.
Don Cooper comes off as his typically blustery and dismissive self, deriding people who predicted injury for Sale as "quacks" repeatedly while keeping his own background and insight close to the vest. Cooper claims his secret method for dealing with Sale is changing nothing, but his team-wide mandate for standing tall through the delivery is thoroughly on display. However, that Cooper can keep his adjustments for such a challenging and bizarre pitcher to something as simple as height and placement on the rubber, is part of his deft touch.
10. Chris Sale and Felix Hernandez are squaring off Friday night. They have never faced each other, and this is also the White Sox first matchup with fellow clownshoes superbusts of 2015, the Seattle Mariners. Previously a doormat in their matchups with the South Siders, the Mariners won last year's season series for the first time since 2009.