Instant Rationalization - Runners placed in scoring position, and left there

Instant Rationalization - Runners placed in scoring position, and left there
It's a 'taste your mustache and sigh deeply' type of night // Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

Considering how little went right, the White Sox really stuck around for quite a while on Wednesday night.  Little fighters, they are.

A somewhat egregious mismatch of Chris Sale vs. Bruce Chen marked the night, but both pitchers seemed set on creating their own problems.

Sale placed Billy Butler in big-time RBI situations in the 1st and 3rd, but struck him out with changeup in the 1st, and somehow escaped with just a single tally after loading the bases for him in the 3rd.  Butler crushed an up-and-in fastball, but right into Dayan Viciedo's waiting glove for a sacrifice fly.

Chen had far more of an appetite for destruction, but was escorted clear of harm at every time.

  • Alejandro De Aza was sent running on a 3-1 count in the 1st inning, predictably gunned out by Salvador Perez, and followed by a Kevin Youkilis strikeout
  • Alex Rios doubled with one out in the 2nd, and was followed with a strikeout and a pop-up.  There would be more pop-ups.  Many, even.
  • De Aza tripled with two outs in the 3rd, but it really doesn't matter how far you get with two outs if the next guy grounds out and no one throws a wild pitch.
  • Chen walked Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko to lead off the inning, and loaded the bases with an Alex Rios single.  Dayan Viciedo officially marked the end of the heart of the order, as he and Alexei Ramirez popped-up back-to-back, and were followed by a Tyler Flowers strikeout.
  • Konerko doubled to left in the 6th with one out.  That only barely counts as scoring position for him, but two-straight hitters not getting it past the mound didn't help.
  • Two-out rallies in the 7th and 8th were both snuffed out by strikeouts, by Ramirez and Youkilis respectively.

By the 8th inning, it wasn't Chen in the game anymore, but Chen isn't the point.  This game was marked with bad execution and approaches during run-scoring situations, and further mythologizing a lefty soft-tosser who the Sox have hammered on multiple occasions this year is unneeded.

Sale skirted around his now-typical varying velocity and some rolling breaking pitches to strike out eight over six and two-third innings, but was curiously left in at the end of the 7th to face Alex Gordon.  He was way over 110 pitches at the time with Donnie Veal ready, and allowed a long fly to the wall that Viciedo whiffed on, scoring two runs.

The Kansas City broadcast had Sale hitting 96 mph on the pitch, which is nice.

Royals 3, White Sox 0

Key Performers

Chris Sale - 6.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 113 pitches - What we've become accustomed to recently--not his sharpest, but certainly effective.

Alejandro De Aza - 4 for 5, 3B, 2B, CS - In between all of this, De Aza was going beserk with no reward.

Alex Rios - 3 for 4, 2B - Also going beserk, also not particularly well-timed.

Dayan Viciedo & Alexei Ramirez - 0 for 7, 2 K, 11 LOB, 1 E - Pretty awful night for both, but Viciedo was in the lineup exclusively to punish the lefty Chen, and was too much of a mess to make decent contact.

Turning Point

Dunn and Konerko worked Chen for back-to-back walks to lead off the 4th.  Each went to full counts, and combined for 16 pitches total.  After an Alex Rios single, Viciedo and Ramirez came up and each popped up on a combined three pitches.

Things Would Be Different If...

Going 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position is probably the only thing worth pointing to, but this game could have been a lot more interesting if...

A) Ventura used the warm and ready Donnie Veal to take out Alex Gordon to end the 7th

B) Ventura had pulled Viciedo out of the field, since he was planning to pinch-hit for him with Wise once Chen was gone anyway.

Minor quibbles, since the manager can't hit for his players, even if it would be fun to see him try.

Takeaway

A highly regrettable loss with Sale on the mound, and one that has the direct consequence of losing a game in the standings to Detroit.  Flat offensive efforts happen, but it would have been a lot better to save it for the inevitable struggles with Jeremy Guthrie Thursday.  The series can still be won, but it will be a high degree of difficulty.

 

Team Record: 81-67, Magic Number is still 13

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