We saw some interesting things from Robin Ventura tonight, starting with his handling of Gavin Floyd.
He sent Floyd back to the mound to start the eighth, which was odd for a few reasons. Floyd had thrown 110 pitches over seven scoreless innings, lefty Daric Barton was the first batter up, and Ventura had Matt Thornton ready in the bullpen.
Floyd walked Barton on five pitches, so it seemed like Ventura made the wrong move. But then he came back to strike out Luke Hughes, and when Thornton entered the game, he gave up an RBI double to Kurt Suzuki, and with two outs, an insurance-RBI single to Eric Sogard.
Thornton's first ineffective outing of the year ended up saddling Floyd with the loss, but it did make Floyd (and Ventura) look better. It is weird to see Floyd throw 119 pitches with a rested bullpen -- especially since Thornton began warming in a hurry with two outs in the seventh, but wasn't used immediately in the eighth -- but given the way the A's ended up hitting Thornton, maybe the Sox meet the same end even if he started the inning.
That begat a more unusual strategy in the ninth inning. Gordon Beckham started the inning (thanks to Brent Morel getting caught stealing to end the eighth), and Ventura let him hit against hard-throwing righty Grant Balfour, even with Adam Dunn and Kosuke Fukudome available on the bench. Beckham hit a hard chopper back to the mound for the first out.
After Alejandro De Aza grounded out to short for the second out, then Ventura called on Fukudome to hit for Brent Lillibridge. That move made sense, and paid off when Fukudome singled up the middle.
That brought Alex Rios and his 11-game hitting streak to the plate ... except it didn't.
No, Ventura did what Ozzie Guillen couldn't bring himself to do last season -- pinch-hit for Rios when it actually mattered. Ventura had it in mind to use Dunn as his last bullet, and sadly, that's how it worked out. Balfour threw a couple of nice outside-corner fastballs to strike out Dunn and end the gameas well as the four-game winning streak.
Floyd deserved better, but the Sox didn't. When Fukudome singled, then took second and third on defensive indifference, he was the first White Sox to reach scoring position all evening. Tommy Milone and his 87-mph fastball limited the Sox to just three singles, and two of them were erased (unsuccessful steal, double play). The formula looked pretty simple from the living room -- Milone threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of 26 hitters, worked his fastball in, and his changeup down and away.
Floyd nearly matched Milone, but the A's made him work a little harder. Until the leadoff walk to Barton, Floyd was up to the task. He did a nice job mixing his off-speed and breaking stuff, and made a concerted effort to stop the running game. His efforts resulted in Tyler Flowers throwing out Yoenis Cespedes for the Sox's third strike-him-out-throw-him-out of the season.
- Viciedo went 0-for-3, and has just one hit over his last 22 at-bats. Worse yet, the hit should have been ruled an error.
- Morel committed his third error when he opted to play back on a Cespedes chopper and try throwing as hard as he could to first. The throw pulled Lillibridge off the bag.