On Tuesday night, Robin Ventura wrote Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia into the same lineup card for the first time since April 9.
Despite the 122-game layoff, the White Sox offense pretty much picked up where it left off.
Sure, the Sox lost their seventh straight game, but this one was different. The Sox topped six runs for just the third time in their last 20 games, and that's even with Ventura making a couple of regrettable choices.
Stopping at six does keep the math easy, because that's what the Sox have averaged in the 10 games featuring Eaton, Abreu and Garcia in the same lineup. In the 121 other games between the original plan and the cast reunion, the Sox averaged 4.08 runs.
You can't take a 10-game sample and meaningfully extrapolate it over a whole season -- especially when the Sox scored 15 in one of those games -- but it's easy to see why and how the Sox attack becomes more potent just by taking a trip through the lineup card:
Tonight's starting lineups: pic.twitter.com/CMaRxrsNkN— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) August 26, 2014
When Eaton's in the lineup, Alexei Ramirez can slide down a spot and Ventura doesn't have to worry about batting a terrible/rookie hitter in the first two spots to protect continuity for others. When Garcia's in the lineup, the Sox have somebody who can better capitalize on pitch-arounds to Abreu. And while nobody knows exactly what to expect from Carlos Sanchez, he can't be worse than Gordon Beckham, which means the top three spots should see more action.
Tuesday's box score shows what this looks like when the plan is executed:
- Sanchez: 1-for-4
- Eaton: 1-for-4, one run, one RBI
- Ramirez: 2-for-5, HR, two runs, three RBIs
- Abreu: 1-for-3, 2B, two walks, one run
- Garcia: 2-for-5, 2B, two RBIs
That's a pretty good start for a lineup reconstruction, and when the Sox face right-handed pitchers, Conor Gillaspie can be included in the conversation. In less than a week, the Sox can start testing Marcus Semien and his second-half .419 OBP fits as a potential right-handed complement at third, second or left field.
If the Sox can close out the season feeling encouraged about two-thirds of the lineup, that's a big accomplishment for the first year of a reconstruction, even if the Sox are closer to a protected first-round pick in 2015 than a .500 record in 2014. It just hinges on the troika staying healthy, and maybe that's finally coming from a reality. We haven't heard anything about Abreu's ankle in months, and Garcia hasn't hurled his body into right field like a jart since coming back.
That just leaves Eaton, and he may always be one play away from destroying himself, no matter how hard he tries to train himself. Maybe Semien should start learning center, too.