Rays 6, White Sox 5: Bats wake up too late

Rays 6, White Sox 5: Bats wake up too late

Jose Abreu's late homer makes it interesting, but same problems plague Sox over first eight innings

Running themes collided as the White Sox sank to 0-5 at home, the first such start since 1975.

No. 1: Carson Fulmer running hot and cold.

Since Fulmer surprised with his performance against the Blue Jays, his track record suggested today’s performance would be a letdown. Sure enough, Fulmer issued six walks and plunked two batters on top of five hits over 4⅔ innings. A five-pitch second inning offered hope that he’d righted himself after a shaky first, but poor control ruled the day, and he worked slower and slower as he realized his feel wasn’t coming to him.

It could’ve been worse. Fulmer allowed four runs, but he stranded six runners over the first four innings, and Hector Santiago was able to leave them loaded by recording the last out of the fifth.

It also could’ve been better, because…

No. 2: More rough defense from the usual sources.

… Fulmer helped out his own cause when he picked off Daniel Robertson after a walk to lead off the third. The problem? Tim Anderson didn’t look the throw into his glove as he started chasing Robertson back, it glanced off, and Robertson returned safely despite slipping. It wasn’t called an error.

He ended up coming around to score, along with Denard Span, after Nicky Delmonico charged over Joey Wendle’s single. That was an error.

No. 3: Blake Snell against the White Sox.

Snell entered the game having allowed just one unearned run against the White Sox over 9⅓ innings. The Sox did get him for one run over six innings, but Tyler Saladino was the only one who could come up with a hit against him, breaking up the no-hitter with a one-out double in the fifth inning. It bounced over the fence, which prevented Delmonico scoring from first after his leadoff walk, but Adam Engel was able to nudge him home with a productive groundout to second.

The White Sox made Snell throw a ton of pitches — 114 over six innings — but he managed to get strikeouts (10) when the Sox could’ve used a hit. That prolonged the biggest issue for the White Sox over the last week…

No. 4: RISP problems.

Through eight innings, the White Sox were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Avisail Garcia once again had the worst day at the plate, going 0-for-5 with four stranded.

Meanwhile, the Rays found ways to tack on insurance runs. Carlos Gomez took Hector Santiago deep in the sixth for a solo shot to regain the run scored on Engel’s groundout. Gregory Infante walked Mallex Smith to start the ninth, and when Omar Narvaez cut him down, Infante replaced him by walking Wilson Ramos. That one stayed put, and eventually scored after Infante gave up back-to-back singles.

It looked like insult to injury, what with the Rays extending their lead to 6-1 with three outs to play. But that insurance run ended up mattering because …

No. 5: Ricky’s boys didn’t quit.

Kevin Cash tried to get by with Ryan Weber, but he had to call for his closer after just one out. Anderson led off with a double over third base, stole third for some reason and scored on a Yolmer Sanchez sac fly.

Wendle booted Leury Garcia’s first-pitch grounder to allow the Sox to restart a rally, and Yoan Moncada extended it with a walk.

That’s when Alex Colome came in, and he got Avisail Garcia to swing at three low and away sliders, and he tapped the third back to the mound. Jose Abreu wasn’t much more selective, but he was better at anticipating location. When Colome threw him a slider just below the zone, Abreu dug it out and muscled it over the center field wall for a three-run shot that narrowed Tampa Bay’s lead to 6-5.

Matt Davidson’s third walk of the game brought the winning run to the plate. Ideally it would’ve been Welington Castillo, but he tweaked his knee earlier in the game on a swing throwing out a runner at second, and Narvaez had to replace him. Narvaez doesn’t have the same extra-base potential, but he gave it what he had by squaring up an elevated slider. He just didn’t get enough loft on it, and Smith caught the liner in right field to end the game.

Bullet points:

*Despite the late rally, the White Sox were still just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

*Saladino’s first two hits of the season were the Sox’ only two hits over the first 6⅔ innings. He also made a slick stab at third base to give the Sox a better defensive showing.

*Anderson is 6-for-6 stealing bases this year.

*Aaron Bummer had his best outing of the season, striking out both batters he faced after inheriting two runners from Infante.

*The teams combined for 17 walks and 345 pitches thrown. Somehow Gary Cederstrom’s strike zone got better as the game went on.

*Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit shirts are a hit, and you can buy them here.

Record: 3-7 | Box score

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PauliePaulie
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PauliePaulie

Hot take- I don’t think the Sox are going to make the playoffs.

GrinnellSteve
Member

My confidence is flagging, but I have to remind myself that it’s early and no one is as bad as they look when things are going badly.

But all the pitching walks and the lack of timely hits are the reasons why any sensible gun reform legislation has to include a mandatory 3-day waiting period for Sox fans.

PauliePaulie
Member
PauliePaulie

If it were only 3 days, we’d all be armed. Heavily.

ParisSox
Member

It’s early, my man.  Stay positive.  You are our beacon. 

Trooper Galactus
Member

“Have to wake up bats!”

Patrick Nolan
Editor

The only difference between the way this team has played and a .500 team is basically RISP. Coming into the day, they had the 9th-best position-player WAR and 22nd-best pitcher WAR. That’s a recipe for a league-average team (if sustainable over a season, which some of it probably isn’t because the Sox led the AL in wRC+ entering today).

They’ve been unlucky with sequencing and it is hard for me to get too down about that because it’s a fleeting problem that will take care of itself. Doesn’t strike me as a roster of guys who are “afraid of the moment” or whatever. Most of them have had huge “moments” already in their young careers.

Trooper Galactus
Member

You and your rational takes.

karkovice squad
Member
karkovice squad

And they’re still waiting on 3 of their best arms and 1 of their best position players. There are the makings of an exciting second half, even if their elimination number creeps up early again.

Trooper Galactus
Member

I think realistically only one of those arms will be here early enough to have much of an effect on our season record. I think Hansen and one of Stephens, Adams, or Guerrero stands a good chance of being up in September, but barring a severe rash of injuries we should probably expect to see the likes of Volstad, Covey, and Danish in the summer months.

karkovice squad
Member
karkovice squad

Rodon still exists. And I don’t really care about how meaningful the impact is on their end of season win total.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Neither do I, but in terms of making this season more watchable we should probably temper expectations in terms of prospects we want to see get promoted to Chicago. As for Rodon, I’m in wait-and-see mode with him. They’ve moved his timetable so many times in the past I don’t even trust we’ll see him by August.

karkovice squad
Member
karkovice squad

Eh, assuming the prospects accomplish what they need to in the minors this season and the goal is competing out of the gate next season, then there isn’t a reason to play service time games in the second half of the season–they’ll have already cleared the most meaningful cut-offs. The pitchers in particular would be wasting pitches in the minors.

PauliePaulie
Member
PauliePaulie

Recurring injuries make that a pretty big assumption.

karkovice squad
Member
karkovice squad

That cuts both ways–injury risk is also why you’d rather not have them throwing pitches in the minors if they’re ready and cleared the service time hurdles.

PauliePaulie
Member
PauliePaulie

I was referring to the injuries keeping them from even getting to the Bigs.(accomplish what they need to in the Minors) Or, keeping them from being starters.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Hansen is getting a late start to the season in AA and only had a handful of starts there last season. He could not even get promoted past AAA this season and it wouldn’t exactly be a disaster compared to reasonable expectations so long as he shows steady progress. I don’t think it’s about service time games, it’s about trying to make sure these guys have legitimately done all of the development they can accomplish in the minors.

gusguyman
Member
gusguyman

“stole third for some reason” – I guess we see where Jim comes down on our gamethread debate.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

On the correct side, as usual. It was dumb!

Greg Nix
Editor

Indeed. I guess I understand that it was more aggressive than you’d typically want in that situation. But I’m happy to see Tim running in general, both because I think it will help prop up his overall value and because his high success rate runs counter to the idea that he has a low baseball IQ.

Trooper Galactus
Member

This whole “Tim Anderson has a low baseball IQ” is ridiculous. He’s still a young player, and he hasn’t been playing baseball full time for very long yet. Yes, he makes his fair share of gaffes, but he’s shown improvement in several areas. He’s become more effective on the bases and his speed is a double-plus weapon as a result. He’s displayed three times more plate discipline than in the past, which is a sign he is capable of learning and making major adjustments. It’s not about how smart he is now, but how much he is willing and able to learn to make himself a smart player. I think his defense comes around in time as well. This is a year for him to get over making these mistakes.

karkovice squad
Member
karkovice squad

It’s also a subject that needs careful treatment because of how race has historically affected conversations about players’ baseball IQ and physical abilities.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Possibly, good point. Never heard anybody question Gordon Beckham’s IQ despite the consistently shitty plate approach and repeated TOOTBLANs, to say nothing of that awful play where he tripped over Addison Reed and fell into Conor Gillaspie.

knoxfire30
Member
knoxfire30

Tim andersons base stealing this year has been awesome. But he is a really dumb baseball player. That has nothing to do with skin tone, it has to do with having no idea what a strike zone is, not knowing when to put a ball in his pocket that a runner is going to beat out on certain plays, among a bunch of nuances he is bad at. A move to CF is going to be the best thing for him and the whitesox down the road. SS is the most important defensive position on the field and the amount of errors and non error / misplays are already piling up. This reminds me a lot of starlin castro, two of the best gms in baseball theo epstein and brian cashmen couldnt wait to launch that guy via trade despite a lot of talent because of these same problems. That isnt a coincidence.

Having said all this, 2018 is a throw away year anyway, so if a spec of hope remains that Tim can make it as a SS there is no immediate reason to move him. When it becomes time to contend however its going to be a problem that needs to be addressed.

mikeyb
Member
mikeyb

What the hell do errors have to do with being a dumb baseball player? Booting the ball doesn’t make you dumb.

knoxfire30
Member
knoxfire30

I think I laid out the types of lack of concentration errors he makes where in a rundown he doesn’t catch a ball thrown right into his chest. Where he fires a ball over 1st base when he has no chance of throwing a runner out, (something that repeatedly happened last year), when you have no sense of strike zone or count so you swing at pitches consistently out of the zone and miss those pitches by a mile… when just yesterday although we all the aggressiveness you steal third in a game you are down a ton of runs…

He is going to be forced to change positions because he is bad defensively. Part of his bad defense comes from a lack of understanding of the game which bleeds over into hitting and base running which is where the sox have to decide is this guy a cornerstone player on a perennial playoff team or not.

Its my opinion he is best suited long term in CF and hitting down in the order.

mikeyb
Member
mikeyb

Not catching a baseball doesn’t make you a dumb baseball player. Players make errors. Poor defensive players make more errors than good defensive players. But that still doesn’t make that player dumb.

ForsterFTOG
Member
ForsterFTOG

I think he meant dumb baseball player, not dumb person playing baseball. He just doesn’t look like an infielder to me. He’s not smooth. Doesn’t anticipate well. He relies solely on physical ability. All the athletic ability in the world doesn’t necessarily translate into a decent shortstop. Limited baseball I.Q. can be glossed over in CF. Just my 2 cents.

karkovice squad
Member
karkovice squad

You should look around the league to understand what truly awful defense looks like. Anderson, errors and concentration lapses and all, is pretty middle of the road. Certainly enough for his bat to cover for his glove for now.

Saying he has low baseball IQ implies that it’s not possible for him to learn the right decisions to make. That’s a questionable assumption at best. And regardless of whether there’s innocent or malign intent behind it, I stand by my point that it’s pretty callous to use that frame to talk about his weaknesses as a defender given the history of how players of color have disproportionately been the targets of that specific criticism.

Moreover, it’s pretty ridiculous to decide that 10 games into his 3rd ML season he’s hopeless. Let’s also remember he didn’t start playing HS baseball until his junior year and breezed through the minors. He’s still making up for having fewer games under his belt.

mikeyb
Member
mikeyb

I disagree that Anderson has a low baseball IQ, but stealing third with nobody on behind him in a 5 run game does more to help the low IQ argument than hurt it.

Red_Hair_White_Sox
Member
Red_Hair_White_Sox

Was not able to follow along at work but my question is:

Realistically how long is Infante’s leash? He never impressed me last season and has not been much better in the early going.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

Very, very short. Definitely the next man on the chopping block.

Marty34
Member
Marty34

My current roster deadweight rankings

1. Engel
2. Infante
3. Shields
4. Gonzalez
5. Saladino

First sign of life from Tilson or Cordell and Engel goes. Infante will be replaced in the pen by Fulmer when Santiago takes his place in the rotaion.

mikeyb
Member
mikeyb

I only got to listen to this game. Was Fulmer’s balk as funny as the radio guys made it sound? Because I was definitely laughing at the idea of Fulmer lifting his leg to pitch, then immediately bringing his foot down into his other leg, causing him to fall flat on his face. If this is truly what happened, I need someone to find me a video please.