Jose Abreu sticks up for manager Robin Ventura

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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.

The Cubs played under protest after Joe Maddon disputed an ‘illegal’ pitching motion

Joe Maddon
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The Cubs found themselves in a disadvantageous position toward the end of their 5-2 loss to the Nationals on Saturday. Down by three in the ninth, they were finally looking to gain some ground against closer Sean Doolittle after wearying themselves against Stephen Strasburg for the first eight innings of the game. Instead, the game ended under protest when Cubs skipper Joe Maddon took umbrage with Doolittle’s delivery:

The issue appeared to stem from the motion Doolittle made with his left foot, a kind of “toe-tapping” gesture that Maddon believed had previously been made illegal. The official rules state that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate during his delivery, a stipulation that had previously been violated by Cubs’ pitcher Carl Edwards Jr.:

Comparing the two motions, however, one would be hard-pressed to characterize Doolittle’s tapping motion as a full step toward the plate. Maddon clearly didn’t see it that way, and emerged from the dugout to dispute the pitcher’s delivery twice. Following Doolittle’s first-pitch strike to Albert Almora, the manager informed home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook that the Cubs would play the remainder of the game under protest.

An official decision has not yet been announced regarding the illegality of the delivery and the validity of the Cubs’ protest. According to league rules, “the game will not be replayed unless it is also determined that the violation adversely affected the protesting team’s chances of winning.”

During the inning in question, however, the umpiring crew allowed Doolittle to continue his delivery. He helped secure the Nationals’ 5-2 win after inducing a groundout from Almora, striking out Kyle Schwarber, and getting a game-ending pop-out from Kris Bryant.

After the game, both Holbrook and Doolittle took issue with Maddon’s protest.

“In that moment, he’s not trying to do anything other than rattle me,” Doolittle told reporters. “And it was kind of tired. I don’t know, sometimes he has to remind people how smart he is and how much he pays attention to the game. So he put his stamp on it, for sure.”

Holbrook, meanwhile, said Doolittle did “absolutely nothing illegal at all.”