Back in September, I wrote a two-part series about the White Sox pitching staff's reluctance, refusal and/or inability to retaliate when their batters took beatings from opposing pitchers. The Cleveland bullpen's reckless inside pitching inspired the post, and I also found that the Minnesota Twins seemed to take a page from the same playbook.
While working on White Sox Outsider 2012, it turns out I overlooked the pitcher who took advantage of this deficiency more than anybody else:
I'd noticed it while writing about the Sox's 11-inning, 2-1 loss to Kansas City on July 20. You might remember that game as the one that caused Ozzie Guillen to explode in one of his last expletive-laden rants:
"Nothing more painful than losing the f—-ing game against Bruce Chen once again,’’ Guillen said. "That’s more painful than this one. F—-ing pathetic. No f—-ing energy. We just go through the motions. We take the day off instead of [today, a day off].’’ [...]
"Nothing against Bruce Chen, I have a lot of respect for this kid,’’ Guillen said. "But our approach at the plate, that’s not a good club out there. F--- it. I’m tired of protecting people.’’
It's funny that he mentioned "protecting people." Chen held the Sox to one run on four hits over eight innings, needing only 83 pitches ... but he also hit three batters. Carlos Quentin was one of them, sure, but Alexei Ramirez and Brent Morel also got drilled.
Then I realized, "Hey, didn't Chen knock a White Sox out of a game?" He did, but it wasn't on July 20. That took place three weeks later, when Chen broke A.J. Pierzynski's wrist with a fastball during a 5-1 Royals victory on Aug. 12. Pierzynski was one of two batters Chen hit that night (Quentin was the other one, of course) over his six scoreless innings.
At that point in the season, Chen had made three starts against the White Sox, going 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP. But WHIP doesn't account for the ol' plunking, and when singling out that stat, a familiar theme repeats:
- Chen vs. White Sox: 20 IP, 5 HBP.
- Chen vs. everybody else: 73 1/3 IP, 0 HBP.
- White Sox pitchers in starts vs. Chen: 0 HBP
I looked at game accounts and notes after Chen's starts, and for all the self-deprecation, kicking and screaming about their struggles against him, the White Sox never noticed how Chen had his way with them. Guillen liked talking about how bad Chen was supposed to be. I guess that's why they were willing to spot him the entire inside part of the plate.
Hell, in the same game that Chen knocked the Sox's starting catcher out of the game, he also quick-pitched the Sox -- not once, but twice. The umpire called time during Chen's second attempt, which means that home plate umpire Mike Everitt made more of an effort to protect the Sox from getting pushed around than anybody wearing a White Sox uniform.
Random question: While looking at Chen's splits, this stopped me:
|WP lt .500||8||6||2.69||18||117.0||108||6||37||2||65||6||1.239|
|WP of .500+||4||2||7.11||7||38.0||44||12||13||0||32||1||1.500|
How does a guy on a sub-.500 team make 18 of 25 starts against sub-.500 teams?