The Boston Red Sox lead the league in walks and are second to the Detroit Tigers in on-base percentage, and those who watched the weekend series witnessed how the sausage was made. White Sox pitchers got more than they bargained for, as the Boston lineup ground up their asses and added them to the recipe.
Maybe this metaphor is disgusting, but the pitching was pretty gross, too. The starters had an especially difficult time:
|Hector Santiago||Aug. 30||3.2||5||4||4||5||3||101-52|
|John Danks||Aug. 31||5.0||11||6||5||1||2||110-76|
|Andre Rienzo||Sept. 1||3.0||5||5||5||4||3||77-43|
Santiago had the misfortune of pitching first, which means that Don Cooper had the most time to stew over his performance:
"Walks suck. Walks suck. Walks suck," Cooper said. "Unacceptable. That’s not a good game. That’s a messy game. That wouldn’t work in A-ball. It’s not going to work against any good team in the big leagues. Unacceptable. Not good. I expect to get better, not do that. You know, heck man, we gave the other team many opportunities. Good pitchers only give you one shot at them. Every inning last night was a problem so it wasn’t a good game by him."
Perhaps Rienzo would have triggered the same response if their days were flipped, but subsequent comments suggest Cooper is trying tough love on a guy he wants to see get over the hump:
"I want it to happen so bad that that’s where my frustration comes in," Cooper said. "I want him to succeed. We are making real good headway there and you know sometimes players get pissed off and frustrated as well and so do coaches. That’s where I was last night. Now I’m back to going back to work and in five or six days he’ll be out there again and we have to try to improve. That’s what we are always trying to do."
Santiago (barely) surpassed his previous season-high in innings (132 back in 2011), but I'm sure 130 innings against MLB hitters takes a little more out of a pitcher than 130 innings against A-ball and Double-A hitters. Santiago has been durable, and the Sox have used that rubber arm to address schedule gaps, but Cooper left open the possibility that he might be wearing down.
"I expect guys to be able to get up on Christmas Eve and throw (it) over the plate and make them swing the bat."
The flip side to the rotation's struggles? The relief corps held up pretty well, especially considering the back end of the pen didn't shoulder much of the load.
Maybe it wasn't pretty, but the front line kept the weekend from being an embarrassment:
Given how short the starters lasted, I feared that we would see a reprise of the Red Sox's four-game sweep of the White Sox in August 2007. That series, in which the Pale Hose were outscored 46-7, stands out as the worst baseball I can remember witnessing, and the bullpen played a starring role in that impromptu circus at
Fenway U.S. Cellular Field:
The crazy thing about that series? Out of four games, only John Danks failed to last six innings (3⅓ innings). The bullpen didn't have that much to clean up, and yet they still allowed that level of carnage. Imagine if you combined that bullpen performance with the Santiago-Danks-Rienzo series of starts -- they might still be playing.
Sloppy or not, the current batch of relievers were good enough to preserve some measure of dignity during a rough start to a tough 10-game road trip.
It take long for Leesman to see action. So new to the roster that his locker's nameplate was waaaaaaaaay off (Jose Leesman?), he threw four innings in relief of Rienzo, which is a nice way to make a bullpen debut. He also showed his limits as a starter by walking three consecutive batters with two outs in the seventh, but escaped further damage when Stephen Drew swung at the first pitch and bounced into a routine 4-3 putout.
Leesman will be around for longer than a day in his second stint, so he had time to talk to the media about his rocky last 12 months, during which he underwent knee surgery and was designated for assignment by the White Sox:
"I’m ecstatic to be up here," Leesman said. "I’ve been with the White Sox since I’ve been drafted, and regardless of the DFA, I trust them that they’re going to take care of me. They know how hard I work. Between me and my agent, we decided it was the best opportunity and best chance to stay with the team and the organization that knows me best and I know them. I think we made a great decision."