Loose threads

Sometimes a game doesn't offer a clear, unifying narrative upon which to craft an entire post around, but merely a smattering of disparate thoughts.

- The White Sox lost to the Blue Jays 3-2 in 11 innings Monday night, while the Tigers had a miserable old time in Minnesota and lost 9-3.  Nights where the Sox win and the Tigers lose are obviously boons, nights where the opposite happens are bemoaned and mourned.  Nights where both teams win leave the Sox unrewarded for their efforts.  Nights where the Tigers lose first, followed by the White Sox also losing are missed opportunities.

But on Monday, the White Sox lost, and were immediately followed up by the Tigers falling apart against Minnesota.  This is the one scenario where everyone just shrugs and goes about their lives afterwards--they broke even!  If the entire AL Central lost out for the rest of the year, and the Sox started all of their games an hour before Detroit's, it'd be the smoothest ride to the playoffs ever.

- However, the game was a Jake Peavy vs. Brandon Villanueva matchup, with half of the Toronto lineup out with injuries.  It was a mismatch, and the Sox botched it.  Peavy wasn't the smoothest he's ever been, but someone could glance at the box score of 8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, HR and conclude he delivered the necessary ingredients for a win.  A bad offensive night turned embarrassing when standard-issue mediocre reliever Steve Delabar struck out six in his two innings of work.

As it so often happens, the narrative of the offense screwing over Peavy is ruined by looking up the stats.  Jake is getting 4.39 runs of support per game, compared to the 4.71 the team averages.  There was that one four-start stretch where he only received two runs of total support, but not much earlier there had been one where he received 37.  There's variation in baseball, and it hasn't been perfectly fair to Peavy's efforts, which is why pitcher wins aren't a thing to fret about.  That said, Chris Sale is 14-3, Whooooa!  Cy Young!

- While the offense was bad, it's hard to fret for two reasons.  First, they made it through three whole games since Paul Konerko was put on the DL without a flat effort.  Since Brandon McCarthy started Friday night, that beat my prediction by three.

Second, Adam Dunn homered twice Monday night.  He homered twice and and didn't strike out.  Short of Dayan Viciedo--who might just spend the rest of the season flailing in stagnation, then hit 10 homers in the playoffs--there's no hitter I was more concerned about than Dunn.

If Alejandro De Aza had homered twice and Dunn went 0 for 5, with four strikeouts, there'd be concern.  There'd be some slight amazement at De Aza's outburst, but concern at Dunn's continued downward spiral.  Instead, De Aza had a random terrible game, and Dunn looked locked in and used left field for one of his two bombs.

Highly encouraging.  Coming into the night he was hitting .181/.303/.403 since June 1st.  He's having his worst season save for that one season he could never do worse than.  His contact ability appears to be permanently in the bag, so it's good to see him driving pitches on the outer-half more, and pulling them into the shift less.  Also, a functional Dunn makes the outlook for this series a lot brighter.

- Less encouraging, and a firm argument for pitcher wins and losses, was the 11th inning appearance of Leyson Septimo.  Not looking to push Jesse Crain too hard in the first game of a week with no off-day, Ventura pulled him after 1.1 IP, and looked to Septimo to exploit a lefty-lefty matchup against Kelly Johnson.

Leyson stepped in and walked Johnson on four pitches.  And not close pitches.  And not difficult pitches, either.  Septimo came in and threw four fastballs very low and away.  After he fell down 2-0, Septimo took a little bit off of the third offering, and missed by a foot.  He's not exactly well-practiced (just four batters faced in the past two weeks), but to swing-and-miss so badly in one of the few situations he has use in doesn't bode well for his future--not with Veal on the roster, and someone needing to get optioned by the end of the week.



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