This most recent underwhelming White Sox loss had a lot of interesting things going on in it to just be another case of a poor offensive performance dooming a decent pitching effort. But that's pretty much what it was. The Sox scored just two runs on six hits, had four 1-2-3 innings, hit into two double plays, and executed poorly in scoring opportunities in ways that went beyond the stats. And they managed to do it without A.J. Pierzynski. All of this came against starter C.J. Lewis (a career reliever), set-up man Dustin Nippert (who has struggled with his control, but not tonight), and embattled closer Frank Francisco (the fat guy who hits people with chairs).
The offensive ineptitude spoiled Mark Buerhle's chance to eek a win out of a pretty marginal effort. Buehrle didn't get shelled by any means, except for his complete inability to shut down Matt Treanor; a complete nobody.
In my preview article, I warned of a few big boppers in Texas' lineup, mainly Vlad Guererro and Nelson Cruz, and how they could be pitched around. Then a 34 year-old career back-up catcher named Matt Treanor homered, doubled and knocked in three runs in a 4-2 loss. Not that Buehrle has unbelievable stuff that can't be challenged by the average passerby (It can), but Treanor has 8 career home runs started the season in the minors. This season! As in three weeks ago, he was in the minors! In fact, Treanor spent his first ten years in the minors, which is a terrific sign when you play a need position with a low skill level. Here's my favorite tidbit, Matt Treanor is married to Olympic Gold-Medalist Beach Volleyball player Misti May. Misti plays beach volleyball, a sport that's seminal moment occurred in the movie Top Gun. Matt plays baseball, the second most popular sport in the nation, and Misti is more well-known. This is an excellent sign that Matt Treanor is terrible. And yet, Treanor outhit the entire Sox offense. Is it too soon to use a defibrilator on Carlos Quentin?
Carlos Quentin has escaped my scrutiny so far because he's not being paid nine million dollars, like Juan Pierre, and looks like he's actually swinging and not passing a kidney stone, like A.J. Pierzynski. But Quentin has hit .050 in the last seven days, has a sub-.700 OPS on the year, which stings more because the offense is geared to be very reliant on his production. Strangely, Quentin is still on pace to have 24 HR and 113 RBI for the year...while hitting .163. On top of that, he inexpicably gets played in the outfield while 10-time gold glove winner Andruw Jones starts at DH. Dumbfounding.
Situationally, the Sox were their usual terrible selves tonight. They killed two innings with double plays, they completely stranded Donny Lucy at 2nd with one out, and Alex Rios' inability to drive in Beckham from third with one out in the 6th is a sore memory. It would be useful if Konerko could have scored from 2nd on Ramirez' single, but one can't really complain about his lack of speed while he's leading the league in home runs. As much as the Sox have been blowing their opportunities with runners on, perhaps they've been pressing because their scoring chances are so few and far between. Juan Pierre and Gordon Beckham have done nothing at the top of the order for the last two weeks, and their unshakable placement at 1 and 2 slots have often left the Sox offense dead on arrival. I can't really suggest they be switched out, as they're both such fundamental keys to the season. There's far too much invested in both of them, no ready replacements in the farm system, and no one looking to deal yet. Abandoning Pierre and Beckham before mid-June would be more of an amputation than a surgical replacement.....and now I've just reminded myself of the Haitian earthquake.
Thanks, White Sox.