White Sox manager Robin Ventura used four pitchers to get through the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox. In retrospect, he sure wishes he saved one or two of them for the 14th inning.
Not willing to extend Daniel Webb past three innings and 59 pitches, Ventura turned to Leury Garcia for the 14th against the Red Sox and saw his infielder give up two runs in what turned into a 6-4 loss.
Garcia hit 88 mph on his first pitch and actually got two quick outs with Grady Sizemore and A.J. Pierzynski hacking away. Daniel Nava and Jonathan Herrera were smarter and waited out Garcia, whose velocity quickly waned. After those two walks, Jackie Bradley Jr. pulled a liner down to the right-field line for a decisive two-run double. Dustin Pedroia then grounded out to finish the inning.
Other points of interest from the game:
- The Red Sox were the victims the last time a position player won a game; the Orioles’ Chris Davis beat them with scoreless 16th and 17th innings in a game on May 6, 2012.
- The Red Sox opened the top of the first with three straight hits… and then didn’t have another one until the ninth. Following Xander Bogaerts’ RBI single, John Danks pitched six hitless innings, and none of the White Sox first five relievers gave up hits.
- That run the Red Sox scored was their first in the first inning this year.
- That four-pitcher eighth inning went like this: Scott Downs walked David Ortiz was replaced. Jacob Petricka walked Jonny Gomes and was replaced. Donnie Veal came in and got a ground out, a sac fly that reduced the White Sox’s lead from two runs to one and then issued a walk. Maikel Cleto came in then and issued another walk to lead the bases before getting Bradley to pop up to end the frame. So, four walks and one run for the Red Sox.
- That would have seemingly set up Matt Lindstrom to pitch the ninth with a 3-2 lead. The White Sox, though, are already revisiting the closer situation in light of two early blown saves from Lindstrom. Therefore, Cleto stayed in and was set to get a chance to finish it out. Except Cleto walked the first two batters in the ninth. The second of those walks, to Bogaerts, consisted of exactly two pitches outside of the strike zone.
- Lindstrom took over then, leaving him with what might have been the toughest save chance any closer will see this season: one-run lead, two on, none out and David Ortiz at the plate. Lindstrom got Ortiz, but Jonny Gomes hit a slow roller that went as an infield single and Sizemore followed with a sac fly, tying the game. Lindstrom went on to preserve the tie from there and he stayed in and pitched a scoreless 10th, yet all he got was a blown save for his trouble.
- To clarify: Cleto got a hold despite retiring one of four hitters he faced and giving up a run, and Lindstrom was charged with a blown save despite retiring six of seven hitters and not giving up a run.
- Pedroia had two hits and two walks as Boston’s leadoff man in his return to the lineup. He scored three times, which matches the total the team scored in the two games he missed with a sore wrist.
Yankees starter Luis Severino pitched last Friday, putting him on track to start Wednesday’s series finale against the Twins. The Yankees mulled the possibility of pushing him back to start on Friday against the Blue Jays after an off day on Thursday so that the Twins wouldn’t get an early look at Severino in a potential AL Wild Card matchup.
However, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports that Severino will indeed start on Wednesday against the Twins instead of Masahiro Tanaka. Hoch adds that Severino’s preference is to pitch on regular rest.
Severino, 23, has been the Yankees’ best starter this year and would be the most reliable arm in a must-win game. The right-hander is carrying a 13-6 record with a 2.93 ERA and a 218/49 K/BB ratio in 184 1/3 innings.
Entering Tuesday’s action, the Yankees hold a five-game lead over the Twins for the first Wild Card slot. The Angels hold a 1.5-game lead over the Angels for the second slot. The Yankees are also very much in the AL East race, trailing the Red Sox by only three games with 12 games left in the regular season.
The claim of “East Coast Bias” is often hurled as an accusation of smug superiority, and it’s often met with denial, but it’s a thing. It’s not the exact thing the west coast people think it is — it’s not hate, it’s just a function of time zones and TV ratings — but there are certainly factors that cause stuff that happens in California to get shorter shrift than that which happens back east, where most of the national media people are.
One thing getting short shrift this year: the performance of Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson, which one has to imagine would be getting all kinds of press if he played back east.
Wait, we don’t have to imagine that at all. Because Olson is doing basically the exact same thing Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez did last year, and Sanchez got tons of headlines for it while I’m guessing most baseball fans who either (a) live outside of the Bay Area; or (b) aren’t big fantasy players, attuned to all of the latest callups, haven’t heard Olson’s name much if at all . Their respective lines:
- Sanchez 2016: 53 games, .299/.376/.657, 20 HR, 168 OPS+
- Olson 2017: 54 games, .267/.360/.663, 22 HR 168 OPS+
Sanchez’s rate stats were better but Olson is doing it in tougher parks for hitters. Obviously Sanchez is catching and Olson playing the corner, but a dude coming out of the minors to put up these kinds of numbers in the final two months of the season is rare. That it’s happening again, in almost the same way, is quite the thing.
Part of the reason for the discrepancy in press is that Sanchez was making a strong argument for the Rookie of the Year Award despite playing less than half the season whereas Olson has no shot given what Aaron Judge has done this year. But I’m guessing more of it is simply a function of Olson’s games starting at 10:30 or so back east and most of us not seeing what he does unless we look at the box scores the next day.
Still, Olson, the A’s first round pick from 2012, is not someone to sleep on. And, given that he hit 23 homers in 79 minor league games this year — the last guy to hit 20 in both the bigs and minors in the same year was Giancarlo Stanton — he’s not a fluke. Indeed, he’s one of the few rays of sunshine for the Oakland Athletics. And someone to whom us folks back east should pay a bit more attention.