We have gotten familiar with their names: Starters Jose Quintana and Dylan Axelrod plus relievers Addison Reed (pictured above), Nate Jones, Hector Santiago and to a lesser extent Leyson Septimo, Brian Omogrosso and Jhan Marinez.
They are the rookies who have dominated the White Sox pitching staff while John Danks, Philip Humber, Jesse Crain and even Brian Bruney get healthy. And while a move needs to be made when Humber is reinstated from the disabled list today, another rookie may be headed to the big leagues if Gavin Floyd, suffering with tendinitis, is put on the DL. The most likely candidate to be promoted is Pedro Hernandez, acquired from the Padres in the Carlos Quentin deal, who is 7-2 with a 2.90 ERA at AA Birmingham.
What I'm getting to, of course, is that the "Baby Bunch" needs to hang on until Danks and Crain, in particular, and other possible reinforcements arrive on the scene to give the Sox more of a veteran presence. While the lefthander Septimo has done a creditable since replacing the DFA'd Will Ohman, the struggles he and Nate Jones had last night in Boston show the vulnerability the Sox have with a pitching staff full of first-year players.
Septimo replaced Axelrod, who did a terrific job keeping the Sox in the game, with two outs in the seventh inning and the score tied at 1-1--and rose to the occasion by retiring Jacoby Ellsbury. Coming back to the mound in the eighth to face three lefthanded batters in Carl Crawford, David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez, he didn't retire any of them. He walked Crawford and Ortiz and coughed up a three-run homer to Gonzalez, in essence, putting the South Siders out of reach at 4-1. Then Jones came on and gave up a single, a wild pitch and another single to make it 5-1, the final score.
Granted, it's unfair to judge the entire rookie contingent on last night's breakdown. The truth is that, all in all, this group has done a good job. And they're certainly not responsible for the nights the offense isn't clicking. All I'm saying is that the Sox will be in a better position to contend with their veterans back. And who knows what Kenny Williams has up his sleeve to fortify the troops in addition to the players currently on the roster and in the system.
"Whoever goes in there, veteran or not, you have to step in and do the job," Manager Robin Ventura told reporters after last night's game. "I don't put training wheels on them because they're a rookie. There's a lot of guys who in positions they wouldn't be in if everybody was healthy. But for us, that's where we're at."
Sox Notes of Note: Kevin Youkilis, returning to Fenway for the first time since changing his Sox, got a standing ovation and proceeded to pound out three hits...With the loss the Sox lost a game in the standings to both the Tigers and the Indians. They now have a 2 1/2 game advantage over Detroit and are three games ahead of third-place Cleveland.
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Tags: Addison Reed, Adrian Gonzalez, Brian Bruney, Brian Omogrosso, Carl Crawford, Carlos Quentin, David Ortiz, Dylan Axelrod, Gavin Floyd, Hector Santiago, Indians, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jesse Crain, Jhan Marinez, John Danks, Jose Quintana, Kenny Williams, Kevin Youkilis, Leyson Septimo, Nate Jones, Pedro Hernandez, Philip Humber, Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, Will Ohman