The White Sox lost their fifth game in a row on Sunday, falling 13-3 to the Twins. They’re now 8-14 in last place in the AL Central, a far cry from where prognosticators thought they’d be after an offseason in which they added Jeff Samardzija, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, David Robertson, and Zach Duke.
As a result of the failures of the White Sox, manager Robin Ventura has started to take some heat. First baseman Jose Abreu stuck up for his manager, though, urging people to blame the players, not the manager. Via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune:
“We cannot blame Robin for the situation of the team,” Abreu said through a team interpreter Sunday morning. “It’s our fault because we are the ones who are playing. We are the people who are in the field.
“If the people want someone to blame, it’s the players, not Robin. He’s doing what he can do, but the results aren’t there.”
Among lineup regulars, Abreu and Avisail Garcia are the only ones with an above-average adjusted OPS (a.k.a. OPS+) at 139 and 119, respectively. The starting rotation has been a disaster as the 5.40 collective ERA is third-worst in the American League. It’s tough to see a way in which Ventura could have managed his team, with those results, to a better record than 8-14.
White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu went 1-for-4 with an RBI in Sunday’s win against the Royals. It was the Cuban slugger’s 162nd career game in the majors and with that, he joined a select group of players.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, Abreu is the fourth player to hit .300 with 40 home runs and 120 RBI in his first 162 career games, joining Rudy York, Chuck Klein, and Ryan Braun.
Abreu broke out last season en route to winning the American League Rookie of the Year award. He finished with a .317/.383/.581 triple-slash line, 36 home runs, and 107 RBI. He led the league in slugging percentage and in adjusted OPS (170, 70 points above average). This season, he’s off to another great start, batting .317/.368/.667 with five home runs and 13 RBI.
Why on Earth anyone is barking at anyone on that play is beyond me. Why the Royals — as we have discussed — want to be known for something as stupid as being “bad boys,” let alone be called something that stupid is beyond me, but I suppose if they don’t mind being thought of that way who the heck are we to stop them?
As it was, Ventura has started four games this year. He left the first two with muscle cramps and the last two due to brain cramps. Maybe you should chill out a bit, my man? Maybe your teammates are getting sick and tired of having to deal with the crap that you and your dumb temper set in motion?
Marlins 9, Phillies 1: Ryne Sandberg after this game: “We’ve got some work to do. It was not a good game for us.” Phillies writers CTRL-C’d that so they can CTRL-V it another 90-95 times this year. I’m just happy that I got my Jeff Francoeur shirt in time for this weekend’s Braves-Phillies series. A series which should come with a warning label or phone numbers for emergency counseling or something.
Yankees 2, Tigers 1: Masahiro Tanaka pitched one-run ball into the seventh and struck out six and, I’ll be damned, all of those orthopedic surgeons in the New York media who were prescribing Tommy John surgery after his first start are suddenly quiet.
Mets 6, Braves 3: Make it 11. Daniel Murphy drove in four, Bartolo Colon showed off his wheels. As a lot of people observed yesterday afternoon when the game was still close, this is the sort of game the Mets of old and bad teams in general somehow find a way to lose. The Mets of 2015 have played a few like this and they find ways to win. It’s a fine line between good and bad in the age of parity, but when you’re on the good side of that line as often as the Mets have been in the early going, you’re probably actually pretty good.
Brewers 4, Reds 2: The eight game losing streak is snapped. Kyle Lohse gave up three hits, walked one and struck out four over seven solid innings. After the game Bryan Price said this:
“We have to come in throwing strikes and challenging opponents,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We’ve taken some leads into the late innings and they’ve gotten away from us so we have to be better.”
Throw strikes? Be better? Jeez, Bryan, are you sure you wanna be telling the press what your strategy is going forward? How does that help the Reds?
Pirates 5, Cubs 4: The Cubs had the matchup they wanted in a tie game with a man on second — lefty Phil Coke against lefty Gregory Polanco — but Polanco came through, hitting the go-ahead RBI single. Polanco finished 3-for-4 with two driven in. Kris Bryant played center field because during that extra week in Triple-A he met a sensei who transformed him from a not-ready-for-the-bigs apprentice to a master of all defense via a series of life lessons and philosophical sayings.
Rockies 2, Padres 1: A 2-1 game in Coors field that took less than three hours? Yup, it’s getaway day. Corey Dickerson homered in the fifth, making it three homers in two games for the guy. The other Rockies run came in the first when Tyson Ross walked a run in with the bases loaded. You really shouldn’t do that.
Giants 3, Dodgers 2: Second walkoff win for the Giants in as many days. This a come-from-behind win after the Dodgers went up 2-0 early. Justin Maxwell served up the game-winning single here in the 10th after failing to come through when the Giants had a chance to tie the game up during an eighth inning would-be rally. The Giants sweep the Dodgers and have won four of five following an eight game losing streak.
Cardinals 4, Nationals 1: Michael Wacha allowed one run and five hits in seven innings, outdueling Max Scherzer. In Wacha’s last three starts he’s drawn Scherzer and then Johnny Cueto twice. Pretty rough duty, but he’s been up to the task. The Cards have won seven of eight.
Angels 2, Athletics 0: Athletics pitchers combined to toss a one-hitter. Not bad! But the one hit was a two-run homer and their offense did diddly squat. That’s bad! Nick Tropeano — who I am pretty sure was one of the minor characters in “Batman: Dark Victory” — tossed six shutout innings and three relievers finished it off.
Blue Jays 7, Orioles 6: A sweep for the Jays. They ran out to a 7-0 lead thanks in part to a Josh Donaldson homer and then held on. Some may want to read a lot into the Orioles’ slow start and this series in particular, but this sort of feels right to me:
I’d make a point about the Baltimore rotation here or something, but let’s be real: this is just an old-fashioned three game ass-kicking
Sometimes that just happens. Especially against good-slugging teams in hitters parks.
Rays 2, Red Sox 1: Rene Rivera delivered the game-winning RBI single in the ninth. After the game Rivera said “I think any walkoff is great. You win the game. You enjoy it. It’s a great feeling.” He added “Well, it’s good that you’re fine, and – and I’m fine. I agree with you. It’s great to be fine.”
The Royals and White Sox had a benches-clearing fracas, five players ejected
The Royals are involved in yet more drama. Last Sunday, the Royals and Athletics had a benches-clearing argument as a beanball war ensued following Brett Lawrie’s ill-advised slide into Alcides Escobar, causing a minor injury on April 17. Yordano Ventura started on the 18th against the Athletics and exacted revenge on behalf of Escobar, throwing a fastball at Lawrie after he had given up five runs to the Athletics in the fourth inning.
Ventura and the Royals were at it again Thursday night, this time against the White Sox. The Royals entered the game having been hit by pitches 16 times, second-most in baseball behind the Rangers, five ahead of the Red Sox and Pirates in a tie for third place.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was hit by a 99 MPH Ventura fastball, the sixth pitch in a 2-2 count with no outs. In the top of the fifth, with two outs and the bases empty and an 0-2 count, Chris Sale hit Mike Moustakas with an 86 MPH change-up, the fourth pitch of the at-bat. If Sale were trying to get retribution, it seems odd he’d pick a change-up in an 0-2 count as his opportunity to do so.
Ventura, finishing out the seventh inning, got Adam Eaton to tap into a 1-3 putout. It was a sharp comebacker, but easily handled by Ventura. Rather than simply toss the ball to first base and jog off in silence, Ventura took the opportunity to bark at Eaton, then tossed the ball to first base for the final out of the frame. Eaton was not happy with Ventura’s choice of words. Both benches and bullpens quickly cleared. There was some yelling and shoving for a while. Lorenzo Cain began yelling at Jeff Samardzija, so Samardzija closed in but he was tackled. Someone took a swing at him, but it thankfully did not connect. The blobs of blue and black continued pushing and shoving but the situation was ultimately defused after several minutes.
Five players were ejected: Ventura (obviously), Edinson Volquez, Cain, Sale, and Samardzija. There are certainly going to be fines and suspensions handed down after this one.
Here’s what major leaguer Brett Anderson had to say about Ventura’s behavior:
Dial it down Yordano Ventura…dial it down, several notches.
Giants 3, Dodgers 2: Joe Panik hit a walkoff sacrifice fly which scored Gregor Blanco. But dudes, Blanco should’ve been called out just before that when he “stopped” at third base on Brandon Belt’s single. UPDATE: OK, I’ve re-read the rule a couple of times and watched the replay a couple of times, and my view of this now is that, despite the contact, Blanco should not have been called out because third base coach Roberto Kelly did not “physically assist” Blanco in getting back to the bag. Read the whole justification and watch the video of the play here. Anyway, this was a big cluster and people will be, quite understandably, arguing about it for a while.
Mets 3, Braves 2: The Mets will never lose again. Of this I am almost certain. That’s ten straight. Lucas Duda hit a go-ahead single in the eighth inning. Wilmer Flores of all friggin’ people hit a homer and drove in another run on a single. He has three on the year, actually. As for the Braves, it’s amazing how fast a brief hot start is forgotten and the expectations everyone has for you takes hold. Personally I was spared this spectacle as I went to go see The Mountain Goats in concert last night. There wasn’t much about baseball there — a lot about wrestling — but they did play one song that all Braves fans should keep at the ready between now and the first week of October:
“It wasn’t the plan to use Tony that long but it was a gritty performance on his part”
Rich Gossage just rolled over in his grave. And you may say “hey, Craig, Gossage isn’t dead.” He wasn’t, but he was watching the post-game presser, heard Hurdle say that and immediately died, so now he is and he’s rolling over because he still can’t even. Dan Quisenberry is dead, but he’s not rolling. He got friggin’ sick of all of that rolling and this point he just lies there, disgusted at what passes for gritty these days.
Twins 3, Royals 0: Mike Pelfrey pitched seven scoreless innings to notch his first win since 2013. The Twins scored all three runs in the first inning. Which is a good argument against time machines, really. If we had them someone, somewhere would’ve zapped ahead a couple of hours to see the outcome here, they would’ve texted someone at the ballpark about it, word would’ve spread and then there’d be no one there buying beer and hot dogs and crap. And that’s the real thing about time travel no one ever talks about. Sure, we hear all about, like, going back in time and killing your enemy’s grandfather so your enemy is never born or going forward and getting all of the box scores for the next decade, coming back and growing rich on your gambling “skill,” but the economic dislocation would be the biggest impact. That and everyone losing their ambition and will to live life going forward under the delusion that we can make things happen and otherwise affect some sort of positive change on this doomed world. Time machines would sap us of this fiction. We’d all die in our beds, as unmotivated to carry on as a bunch of flops in some 19th century opium den.
White Sox 6, Indians 0: Jeff Samardzija tossed six shutout innings, the bullpen kept it up for three more and Jose Abreu homered, doubled and drove in three. That is pretty much the Platonic Ideal of a Chicago White Sox win in 2015. They have, like, animated video simulations of this playing on monitors and glossy brochures in this freely available in the lobby of the White Sox offices for everyone to see.
Cardinals 7, Nationals 5: St. Louis jumped out to a 5-0 lead, let the Nats jump back to 5-5 and then pulled away in the eighth on a Kolten Wong double and added some insurance in the ninth because the Nats just don’t have a very good bullpen. Wong’s two-run homer was part of that jumping out part earlier and he ended up 3-for-4 on the night.
Marlins 6, Phillies 1: The Fish end their five-game losing streak. The Phillies are gonna end a lot of losing streaks this year, I reckon. Five unearned runs charged to the Phillies because, woof.
Blue Jays 4, Orioles 2: Homers from Devon Travis and Justin Smoak. Travis has four homers on the year and they’re gonna take the Rookie of the Year line off the board at whatever degenerate casinos allow degenerate gamblers to bet on stuff like “who will win Rookie of the Year.” Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez walked seven guys. If you, like the Orioles here, walk seven times and lose, man, I can’t help you.
Yankees 13, Tigers 4: Six runs off David Price in the first inning ended this one before it began. Which is a shame given how cold it was — snowed here too — but the rules say you gotta play nine unless it rains. And Price sat in the dugout for all nine, even after he got pulled:
Price said he stayed in the dugout after being pulled, instead of retreating to the warmth of the Detroit clubhouse.
“You throw the ball as bad as I did and you give up more runs than you get outs, you don’t deserve to come up here,” Price said. “That’s why I stayed out there.”
Your sacrifice is bold and brave, good sir knight. Coffee is for closers, etc.
Rays 7, Red Sox 5: Tampa Bay was down 5-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth when Jake Elmore — who just got called up before the game — homered and Brandon Guyer hit a two-run, pinch-hit single in a four-run sixth inning. The Rays break a four-game losing streak. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz homered in winning efforts in a losing cause.
Reds 2, Brewers 1: Billy Hamilton came home from third on a wild pitch with two outs in the ninth, sending the Brewers to their seventh straight loss. Maybe they need to listed to that Mountain Goats song. And make sure time machines aren’t invented. As for the Reds, that’s three straight wins since Bryan Price’s F-bomb dropping rant. One or two more of these and some jerk is gonna write the “Price’s rant motivated the Reds” column. I mean, there’s a non-zero chance I’m that jerk, but that won’t make such a column any less dumb.
Rockies 5, Padres 4: Corey Dickerson had two homers, with his second one serving to tie the game in the eighth inning. Then, in the ninth, pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso smacked an RBI single for the walkoff. Both Dickerson and Nolan Arenado were out of the game on Tuesday due to various ailments. Both came back last night and came up big. Dickerson for his bombs, Arenado for some of his patented stellar defense, an RBI double and his run scoring on Descalso’s walkoff single.
Diamondbacks 8, Rangers 5: Archie Bradley walked five in the first three innings of work, including one walk with the bases loaded. That normally doesn’t bode well for your evening, but he gutted it out, lasted six innings allowing that lone runs and got the win. Four double plays by the Dbacks’ D helped, as did Chris Owings homering and hitting an RBI single.
Athletics 9, Angels 2: A pitcher’s duel until the seventh when the A’s scored five. They added three more in the eighth. As for the duel part, Sonny Gray allowed one run over seven innings, besting Jered Weaver who allowed one run in six before handing it over to the Angels bullpen to poo all over.
Mariners 3, Astros 2: Houston loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth and put runners on the corners with one out in the ninth, both times coming away with zero runs. That’s how you lose games, folks. J.A. Happ allowed two runs in seven and a third in a much-needed strong start for the Mariners.