In Wednesday's 6-3 loss to the Indians, Philip Humber continued to pay back the fates for the great control he was blessed with during his perfect game. He lacked command and control for the second straight start and walked a career-high six batters.
Through it all, Humber was just a misplay by Beckham and a hanging curveball away from dancing his way out of it unscathed, bloated pitch count and all. Still, the wildness was a remarkable from a guy who still maintained good control even when he had nothing else going for him as a pitcher. To find the last time a White Sox starter went so far off the rails, the natural choice is to search through Edwin Jackson's play archive.
The night that matched Humber actually came from the arm of John Danks, who walked six Texas Rangers on May 17th of last season, otherwise remembered known as The Brent Morel Game. The young 3rd basemen hit a game-tying 3-run homer that night--his first of the season--and the Sox actually managed to win.
But on Wednesday, Sox pitching actually piled up eight walks total. The last time they managed such wildness as a collective, Edwin Jackson was involved. On April 28th of last year against the Yankees, Edwin walked five in a 12-3 rout. Tony Pena came on in relief, faced five batters, and walked two while retiring none. Jeff Gray walked one in the 3 innings of mop-up work he logged. The year would also see Pena tear an elbow ligament, undergo Tommy John surgery, and be released, so in retrospect it wasn't such a bad day for him.
Wednesday's problems resulted from events more preventable. Robin Ventura attempted to take advantage of the Indians' bizarre all-lefties and switch-hitters lineup by using lefty specialist Will Ohman. Pushed into a second inning of work after pitching the previous night, Ohman was out of gas in the 8th, allowing a single and a walk to his last two batters, eventually leading to a run scored off Addison Reed.
That decision might have loomed large if not for Matt Thornton continuing the theme of the night. He walked Asdrubal Cabrera, and a poorly located fastball became a wall-scraping 2-run HR for Travis Hafner
At least Zach Stewart came in and pitched over A.J. Pierzynski throwing the ball into center field.
Coming into Wednesday's game, Pierzynski had thrown out half of all opposing basestealers, the White Sox pitching staff sported the second-lowest walk rate, and Gordon Beckham had a sterling reputation for excellent defense.
For all of this to get subverted in one night is strange, and wholly unwelcome, but also strangely reassuring. It lends itself entirely to the concept of Wednesday being a blip. If the White Sox followed a night of poor control, with a night of Pierzynski throwing balls into center field, then a night of Beckham making curious misplays, all while struggling to score three runs a game against middling starters, it would lead to the idea that they can't do anything right.
Instead, it's just one night where they were uniquely deserving of their fate, an outlier of wildness that will be looked upon the next time the Sox are uncommonly out of control, hopefully not for another year.
Tags: A.J. Pierzynski, baseball, Brent Morel, Cleveland Indians, Edwin Jackson, Gordon Beckham, jack hannahan, jeff gray, John Danks, New York Yankees, philip humber, Robin Ventura, Texas Rangers, Tony Pena, White Sox, Will Ohman