Instant Rationalization - White Sox sweep Rays in spite of Mark Wegner

Instant Rationalization - White Sox sweep Rays in spite of Mark Wegner
Beckham runs clear of tense and worrisome circumstances // Al Messerschmidt, Getty Images

After issuing a leadoff double in the 3rd inning with the game tied 1-1, Rays starter Alex Cobb took the opportunity to retaliate for A.J. Pierzynski spiking Ben Zobrist on a slide Tuesday night.  He plunked Pierzynski in the back, which seemed somewhat inevitable, but sparked a two-run inning, so it was hard to look at the event with a great deal of anger.

For whatever reason, the White Sox decided not to leave it at that (perhaps they felt Pierzynski's level of intent didn't quite match up with being hit in the back), as Jose Quintana threw a 92 mph fastball behind Ben Zobrist on the first pitch with two outs in the 4th.

Despite not warning the benches on the previous HBP, Wegner immediately ejected Quintana, and later tossed Robin Ventura, who was as disagreeable as he's ever been since taking over the manager role.

The sudden move by Wegner prematurely ended a promising start from Quintana, and sent the Sox to the bullpen early.

Luckily, the pen offered a lot of options with an off day coming on Thursday, and the two Cubans Viciedo and Ramirez went for back-to-back doubles in the 5th, which was just enough to cover up for a two-run HR off of Nate Jones by Carlos Pena.

White Sox 4, Rays 3

Key Performers

Jose Quintana - 3.2 IP, H, ER, 0 BB, 2 K, HR - He wasn't dominant and unlikely won't be very often, but had only made one mistake.

Dayan Viciedo - 3 for 4, 2B, R, RBI - His batting average is at .291, his OBP is now over .300, and it's hard to tell how much of it is hot streak, and how much is him simply being comfortable

Alex Rios - 2 for 5, 2B, R, RBI - Displayed some more pull power, and punished Alex Cobb early

Alexei Ramirez - 2 for 3, 2B, SF, 2 RBI - He's getting really close to raising his slugging percentage over .300

White Sox bullpen - 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BB, 6 K, HR - Solid work in an unfavorable situation, with the only runs coming off Nate Jones--the first man in.

Turning Point

The bullpen was nursing a one-run lead for the last 3.2 innings, and Addison Reed allowed a walk and a sharp single in the 9th, so this game didn't get comfortable until it was all over.

Reed was far from sharp with his command, but Rays hitters couldn't square up his big fastball, and saw their way out of a scoring opportunity with three pop-ups.

Things Would Be Different If...

The White Sox stranded 10 runners, and blew a bases-loaded, no out situation in the 2nd that could have provided more breathing room, but they would have had one less baserunner to work with if Cobb hadn't put Pierzynski on in the 3rd.

Quintana's ejection showed one drawback to retaliation, but the Rays suffered the other as Pierzynski came around to score on a sacrifice fly, in what wound up being a one-run game.

Takeaway

The winning streak endures despite the most hindrances yet.  Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko were nonexistent, the starting pitcher was tossed, the closer was shaky, runners were stranded at will, and yet the Sox still had enough to knock the Rays out of 1st place and complete a road sweep of an elite opponent.

With eight straight wins, and 12 in their last 13, it's hard to imagine how the White Sox could be any hotter.  It would serve them well to ride the wave to not just take over 1st place, but make some room for themselves while they can.  Their recent history against the incoming Seattle Mariners suggests they can.

 

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  • I had it on in the background, but turned it off when Hawk went "rouge derriere" (as Rosie puts it) at an extreme level. Seems like Hawk never gets over the ejections. At that point, the game isn't any fun for me.

    This just seemed a repeat of the Paulie-Jeff/Phil-Brian attempted retaliation at TD Ameritrade Field, and I'm fairly sure that this ump was aware of that.

    Robin may be ordering more retaliation than Ozzie, but it appears that, like Ozzie, his troops don't know how to execute it.

  • In reply to jack:

    My only complaint is that the Wegner didn't issue warnings after the Pierzynksi HBP. If he's got his finger on the pulse of the game, he's knows that's retaliatory, and if he doesn't want to see any more of it--as he clearly didn't--warn the benches, and by all means toss Quintana when he responds.

    As for not executing it properly, I don't know what they did wrong. Robin seems to opt for throwing behind guys to get the point across without putting a runner on.

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    Both of your points are related to one point.

    Hawk, on the radio this morning, after taking 16 Advils, may have rested on your first one that there should have been a warning, but unless Hawk changed 3 weeks ago, Hawk has always wanted the opposing batter hit. In previous years, he went off several times after warnings were issued immediately after the Sox batter was the first one hit.

    If the Rays intended to retaliate against AJ for something he did in the previous game, their pitcher figured out how to hit him. Maybe I don't follow it that closely, but I don't recall instances where either the Sox pitcher connected or the opposing pitcher was thrown out.

    I'm not saying that the Sox pitcher should intentionally put someone on base, but the answer in other baseball circles is to use it to beat the other team, such as Rios driving in Beckham. If "throwing behind" is Robin's M.O., the umps know about it, as I indicated above.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well, I won't defend HAwl too much, because he's wrong a lot and yearns for a style of play that isn't practical or feasible a lot, and says silly things like "only being as good as your bullpen", despite having watched last year's team. I don't view the goal of retaliation to be anything beyond getting the other team to stop taking advantage of you by throwing recklessly inside. By that measure, I feel that Robin ordering Quintana to retaliate wholly unnecessary, but perhaps he really didn't see the AJ slide as intentional or deserving of plunking.

    I'm sure the umps know about the M.O. I'm sure the umps have an excellent sense for the direction of the game, which is why I think Wegner can take a fair bit of blame for not being more communicative.

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