The White Sox are making overt efforts to save up their best punch for this weekend's showdown with Detroit--they've cued up the best raw stuff on the squad with Peavy, Liriano and Sale, and given them all rest, in various kooky ways.
Peavy's spot against Baltimore is getting skipped to hide away Dylan Axelrod replacing Floyd, and give him two extra days of rest. In turn, Peavy's taking Liriano's date and giving him an extra day. And finally, Sale got a small measure of rest by being excused from the last 35-40 pitches of his poor outing Tuesday.
That's the least time off anyone's getting, and Sale may need it the most. In addition to the sudden loss of feel for his off-speed pitches that Sale described as "almost like I hit a brick wall," he hit a ceiling of equal sturdiness in terms of velocity. He reached back for a 94 mph fastball in his first inning of work, never found it again, and sat around 91 mph all night. The hanging curve to Nick Markakis stands out from the night, but linear weights from Brooks Baseball indicates that the Orioles punished Sale's suddenly weakened fastball.
Velocity issues flaring up again when there's no time or room to comfortably fit in another break trumps any worry about Jake Peavy's eye infection or Liriano's leg cramps, but they all cast a pall upon a weekend that the White Sox are planning their whole week around.
A month ago, the Sox held up Peavy and Sale for a weekend tilt in Detroit, started three guys who would lose their rotation spots eventually, suffered an all-around dismal 1-3 effort in Boston as a precursor, and couldn't kickstart themselves going again in time to take a single game from the Tigers. They managed one series to win another, and lost both.
That memory has been the creeping itch in the one part of my back I can't quite reach, while watching the first two games of this blasted Orioles series. It's possibly a weak and circumstantial thread to tie these two Tigers' series together with, since the more firm commonality between that awful week and this one is cruddy hitting.
Alejandro De Aza is only starting his rehab now, but Dewayne Wise is already starting to trade multi-hit games for multi-strikeout ones, A.J. Pierzynski is hitless since his RBI triple in the second game of the New York series, and we can only hope that Dayan Viciedo's sore shoulder has been bothering him for a while--he too has traded in an 11-game hit streak for what's now a six-game skid with a least a strikeout per contest, nine total. Gordon Beckham is lost, and expressing it as a recent trend doesn't do it justice.
This a bit too negative in the wake of a night where the Sox lost no ground because the Royals scored eight runs on Justin Verlander, and Delmon Young missed a go-ahead home run by a margin you'd have a hard time sliding a business card in between. My late-August mind is a collection of anxieties with nowhere to diffuse, since it's too late to overcome a major setback, and still a little too soon to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Since we're drawing historical parallels that may or may not predictive, trying to drag a two-game division lead to October as bumps and bruises accumulate rapidly is reminiscent of 2008 again, and limping to the finish without Quentin or Crede, suffering Jermaine Dye's end of year fade, dealing with Javy Vazquez once every five days, and yes, relying too much on Dewayne Wise.
There's either that for optimism, or simply falling back on that the Sox haven't had much issue with stopping momentum on a dime with Robin "same guy every day" Ventura is charge. With that in mind, there's no telling if this weekend will even wind up mattering much at all.