In what feels like the 100th time this season, poor pitching execution plus horrendous defense dug a giant hole for the White Sox early. The defensive woes began in the first inning as Gerardo Parra hit a hard grounder at Micah Johnson. Attempting to backhand the grounder, it deflected off Johnson's glove into right field for a base hit. With Ryan Braun at the plate, Parra made a good jump to steal second, and he slid in ahead of Geovany Soto's wide throw.
Later in the at-bat, Braun hit a weak ground ball to Alexei Ramirez that went five-hole on him and put runners on the corners. Jeff Samardzija would get Adam Lind, whose speed probably grades out at 30, to hit a grounder to Johnson who hesitated to field it. Johnson was able to get Braun out at second, but because of how slow the play developed, Ramirez couldn't make the turn and execute the double play. Lind gets credit with a RBI as Parra scored from third. Three batters into the game, four defensive mistakes.
Then Carlos Gomez stepped into the batters box. Entering the game, Gomez was 2-for-9 with Samardzija, but both hits left the park. Wouldn't you know it -- on a 1-0 pitch, Gomez crushed it to left center giving the Brewers a 3-0 lead.
Samardzija's command was also at fault with the early deficit. "Night Smarch" failed to meet his own performance expectations as his pitches would find themselves waist high, middle of the plate.
The Brewers tacked on two more runs in the second inning, and had a commanding 6-0 lead heading into the fifth.
That's when the White Sox began to show some life offensively.
Conor Gillaspie led off the inning with a single to center, the first hit out of the infield for Chicago. Ramirez followed up with a hard ground ball to third baseman, Elian Herrera, but, like Johnson earlier, Herrera hesitated and could only make the play at first. With one out, Soto took a 94 mph fastball to deep left field for his second home run of the season.
Down by three, Johnson almost ran himself into another infield hit with a weak worm burner to first base. Initially called safe, replay would show that pitcher Wily Peralta toe-tapped on the inside of first base, barely ahead of Johnson's lunge. That inch became important because Samardzija lined a single that could have theoretically gotten Johnson to third. Eaton followed up Samardzija's single with a double down the left field line, and Melky Cabrera walked to load the bases for Jose Abreu.
Its hard to find the second pitch in the graph above. Its in between 1.0-1.5 on the horizontal axis, and 0-0.2 on the vertical axis. Regardless, it was another ugly swing on a breaking pitch low and away for Abreu. That pitch mattered, because he just didn't seem comfortable afterward. He managed to put the ball in play, but it ended up being a fielder's choice to end the rally. Instead of waiting for his pitch, Abreu's aggressiveness to push the issue cost him that opportunity to drive in more runs.
Despite the defensive woes, the White Sox tied the games thanks to crooked numbers in the seventh and eighth. However, one has to think the White Sox left runs on the field in the 8th.
Adam LaRoche's single to right center cut the lead to one run, scoring Gillaspie, who led off the eighth with a double. With Ramirez on second and LaRoche on first, pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck enters the batter's box in place of Zach Putnam. With no outs, Shuck attempts to lay down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position. If it wasn't clear now, it should be in future instances that Shuck shouldn't be allowed to bunt.
Hawk Harrelson's critique of Shuck's attempts were spot on. Instead of trying to catch the baseball with the bat, Shuck was stabbing at it. That lead to two popped up bunts, which luckily went foul. Down 0-2, Jonathon Broxton struck out Shuck with a changeup low and away. It was a wasted at-bat, and while many fans disagreed with the call, in the end, it was Shuck's inability to execute that made the call look really bad.
If Shuck was successful, Beckham's flyout to right field would have driven in the tying run. Instead, the White Sox had runners on the corners with two outs and Eaton coming up to the plate. Despite his early struggles and catching the flu bug, tonight was a sort of coming-out party for Eaton. On the eighth pitch, Eaton hit Broxton's slider into right field, scoring Ramirez and tying the game at 7. Despite all of the struggles, one of the worst offenses in the American League carried its homestand offense on the road and made a game of it.
That was until Zach Duke gave up two home runs in the eighth. Happy feelings gone. Game over.
- Adam Eaton was 4-for-5 with 2 RBIs.
- Melky Cabrera was pretty unlucky tonight. Not only did Cabrera hit into two double plays, but he barely missed a home run in the seventh and Carlos Gomez made a sensational over-the-shoulder catch to end the eight.
- The White Sox are 2-12 on the road. Whatever this manifesto is for road games, it should be located in a nearby paper shredder.