My last entry, the Orlando Cabrera-Greg Walker Can You Find Right Field salvo, was extraordinarily well timed. There was a stark difference between the execution of the two teams on the field in Tuesday night's 2-0 loss to the Angels.
The Angels hitters were content to hit the ball the opposite way, to hit the ball where it was pitched, and generally looked like they had a plan at the plate, on the basepaths and in the field. Meanwhile, the White Sox appeared allergic to the opposite field, lacked any plan at the plate, gave up a free bases at nearly every opportunity, and topped it off with some poor defensive play in right field which led to the winning runs. In all honesty I don't think I've ever seen such a contrast in fundamentals in a single game.
The Angels stole 3 bases on John Danks. Two were completely uncontested, and the third was so easy that the runner didn't even bother to get anything more than a one-step lead. They had him read like a book, and Pierzynski never stood a chance at throwing out a runner.
The Angels right-handed hitters were content to poke the ball into right field, and did so at least twice on 0-2 counts on balls out of the zone. I've attached an image from MLB's GameDay to illustrate. That mass of blue in right field is 6 opposite field hits by right-handed Halos and a 3-0 rope from Garret Anderson, which was yet another example of a hitter with a plan. Anderson was looking for a fastball, and roped a high, 95 MPH pitch from left-hander Matt Thornton.
About the only bad thing I can say about the Angels play on Tuesday was that Anderson didn't make it to second on the play. He laid out a rope in front of Jermaine Dye, and just assumed it was going to be caught. It's a play Anderson knows well, as he's a poor outfielder who is know relegated to DH duties. Yet he was genuinely surprised that Dye was unable to come up with the ball that set up the game-winning situation.
- With runners on the corners and nobody out, Mike Napoli flew out deep to Nick Swisher, who decided to air mail his throw to the plate allowing Anderson to get into second base uncontested. Swisher's failure to hit the cutoff man is not an isolated incident. I would need two hands to count the times he's missed the middle-man, and his replacements in center field have been just as bad. Brian Anderson and Alexei Ramirez have each missed the cutoff man multiple times (in one game). It's such a simple task, and yet the Sox don't have a single center fielder who feels the need to be fundamentally sound in the throwing game.
If these were isolated incidents I could let them go, but you add them up with the Sox inability to properly execute a rundown, with Sox hitters HR-or-nothing approach at the plate, and you can only draw one of two conclusions, neither of which is encouraging:
- The Sox (in general) are poorly coached.
- The Sox players have completely tuned out their coaching staff
The Twins announcers questioned the White Sox batting practice routine last week, observing that it looked like a homerun hitting contest. Meanwhile the Twins were practicing bunts, situational hitting, opposite field hitting. After watching the Angels on Tuesday, I can guarantee their batting practice is more Twins-like than Sox-like... It should come as no surprise that the Sox are 0-10 this season when they fail to hit a HR.
* * * * *It's unfortunate that I had to spend this recap talking about the coaching and lack of fundamentals, because there were a few bright spots in the game.
- Danks, aside from the stolen bases, was excellent. So much so that I protested him being pulled from the game when Ozzie game out to get him in the 7th.
- Octavio Dotel did his best El Duque impersonation, throwing balls out of the zone to get strikeouts with the bases loaded. Dotel has been on a roll recently. In his last 8 outings, he's pitched 9.1 innings, allowing 6 hits, 2 walks, and 16 strikeouts. Unfortunately, thanks to the poor defense and fundamentals, that 6th hit put him on the hook for the loss, dampening an otherwise stellar relief outing.
- Carlos Quentin is still dreamy.
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Jim chimes in: What's the Opposite of Adjusting?