Facing a series against the last place Twins, and an exhaustive four-game weekend tilt with the Yankees, the White Sox obligations were clear: win the first series, hold their own in the latter.
4-3! Mission accomplished! Though, in odd fashion.
Two games this week saw the White Sox offense crank out 26 runs combined; they scored 10 in the other five games. The reason behind it are obvious. The two big-scoring games were started by horrible pitchers (Nick Blackburn, Adam Warren), where as legitimately talented pitchers like Francisco Liriano, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda, and yes, Phil Hughes, had better results against a very eager-swinging group
Sox hitters posted a respectable .268/.307/.436 line for the week, but had disparities such as recording 36 total bases on Friday, and three on Saturday, while more or less refusing to walk.
Kevin Youkilis went 6 for 26 with a double in his opening week. He looked like a player who would be available for Brent Lillibridge and a song, still easily better than previous options at 3rd base, but not the most exciting #2 hitter.
No discussion of hot-and-cold offense is complete without the emblematic Dayan Viciedo. Dayan went bonkers in the first two wins against the Yankees, reaching base five times and socking a 9th inning go-ahead home run, before striking out in his last six unbalanced and flailing at-bats to close the weekend.
White Sox starters combined for a 4.08 ERA on the week, and stuck to the basic formula of the season. Lots of innings eaten thanks to Ventura's long leash (46.1 through seven games), lots of strikeouts from Jake Peavy in particular (8.55 K/9), good control (2.53 BB/9) and way too many home runs (1.35 HR/9), which wasn't helped by playing with New York's novelty-sized field dimensions.
Chris Sale might be the All-Star starter when it's all said and done, but this wasn't a week of great stability. Jake Peavy still isn't getting run support, but didn't have his greatest week in avoiding hard contact, even if his strikeout totals were explosive.
Beyond that, it's question marks. Gavin Floyd savaged all the growing confidence in him, following up his sharpest outing of the year against Minnesota with a discombobulated Sunday performance. Jose Quintana might as well get settled in with John Danks' recovery showing no real momentum, but turned in his first clunker by allowing six runs over six innings against New York. The glass half-full take is that he powered through five more innings after a disastrous opening frame, the half-empty take is his run of superlative control ran out of steam and his lack of groundballs caught up with him.
Dylan Axelrod got through seven strong innings against the Yankees offense, capitalizing off of a strong day for his slider (he threw it 48 times!!!). He works in the high-80's, and is not a half-bad 5th starter if the spots above him are more secure, but this is nearing the absolute bottom of the starting pitching depth. Philip Humber is not especially exciting, but on the comeback trail after a rehab start Sunday.
Injuries to Jesse Crain and Brian Bruney have the bullpen down to Matt Thornton & the kids, and the search for stable contributors is on.
It's not Hector Santiago, who can't find a reliable breaking pitch and is predictable and homer prone without one. No more innings are getting pawned off on Will Ohman, who was released. Nate Jones has started before, and isn't running up against any big innings barrier, but Ventura might want to lighten his bullpen-leading work schedule given how ineffective he's been in his last five outings (3 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K).
Leyson Septimo impressed with a perfect 3.1 innings over two appearances this weekend to start his major league career, but was presumed to be mostly a lefty specialist when he was called-up.
Addison Reed is establishing himself as a bit of white-knuckle closer. In his two saves this week, he allowed a two-run Minnesota rally that saw the tying run reach 2nd base, and a fly ball off the bat from Derek Jeter that was around ten feet away from winning the game and even Addison admitted "sounded good off of the bat." His peripherals are great, though. Surely this will end soon.
The White Sox get a relaxing day off as they return home (good!) where they have played demonstrably worse the past two seasons (bad). The Rangers come to town (very bad), but the Sox will avoid most of their top starters (good) save for a Matt Harrison - Jose Quintana matchup in the finale. The Blue Jays will close out the 1st half by bringing their decimated starting rotation to town.
Chris Sale will start twice this coming week (good).
Filed under: White Sox Week
Tags: adam warren, addison reed, baseball, Brent Lillibridge, brian bruney, Chris Sale, Dayan Viciedo, Derek Jeter, dylan axelrod, Francisco Liriano, hector santiago, hiroki kuroda, ivan nova, Jake Peavy, jesse crain, Jose Quintana, kevin youkilis, leyson septimo, matt harrison, Matt Thornton, Minnesota Twins, nate jones, New York Yankees, nick blackburn, phil hughes, Robin Ventura, Texas Rangers, toronto blue jays, White Sox, Will Ohman