After scoring 15 runs over a seven-game homestand, Robin Ventura decided to shake up his lineup -- gently. The big idea? Moving Gordon Beckham to the second spot, and Melky Cabrera and everybody else down one spot.
For somebody who hoped that said shake-up would take the form of Adam LaRoche hitting first or second, just for goofs and grins if nothing else, I was underwhlemed.
The offensive performance that followed on Monday night? Even more underwhelming. I dare say, it was utterly devoid of whelm.
Drew Hutchison and his 6.06 ERA threw the first Maddux -- a nine-inning shutout with fewer than 100 pitches -- against the White Sox since the Yankees' Ramiro Mendoza blanked the 2000 Sox exactly 15 years to the date. Maybe that means these Sox will go on to set a franchise record in runs ... buuuuuuut I bet they won't.
This should be a breaking point, because there was no mystery to Hutchison. Out of his 96 pitches, 70 were fastballs, and ones that average 92 mph at that. He had decent arm-side command, but he wasn't dotting the black there, or the low part of the zone. The lack of diversity in his portfolio is a big reason why the league thumps him after the first pass through the lineup:
- First PA: .162/.235/.243
- Second PA: .327/.370/.473
- Third PA: .408/.455/.714
The White Sox got it backwards:
- First PA: .222/.222/.222
- Second PA: .222/.222/.222 (both infield hits)
- Third PA: .000/.000/.000
(And then an 0-for-3 in the ninth on their attempt at a fourth pass, for good measure.)
This is getting straight unfair to White Sox pitchers. When Hector Noesi misses with a 1-1 fastball, Josh Donaldson hits it 452 feet to just right of straightaway center.
And deservedly so! That was a bad pitch!
But when Hutchison misses with a 1-1 fastball, Adam LaRoche can only foul it off to the left side, late on 92 mph.
And when Hutchison misses more over the plate with a 1-2 fastball two pitches later ... LaRoche can only watch it.
Hutchison threw 57 pitches to left-handed batters on Monday, and 44 of them were fastballs. Hutchison threw three consecutive fastballs to LaRoche in this at-bat; two were mistakes, and LaRoche looked unready for both of them.
Noesi pays for making one miss. Hutchison makes two in the same at-bat -- during that dreaded second time through the order -- and the Sox can't even put it in play. (It's not just LaRoche, but that at-bat was emblematic of their recent efforts.)
If Voltaire is correct about injustice producing independence, then I'm looking forward to the team the White Sox pitching staff puts together for itself later this season. In the meantime, the arms are going to have to bite their tongues.
Proof: Here's Noesi biting his tongue in response to a question about the double play Alexei Ramirez botched in the first inning, cracking the door open for four Toronto runs.
Given that English is Noesi's second language, it's possible that he needed extra time to carefully choose words on a delicate matter. But I'm thinking that silence speaks volumes, especially since Ramirez was silent on the matter himself.
Alexei Ramirez declined to comment until pregame tomorrow. #WhiteSox— Dan Hayes (@CSNHayes) May 26, 2015
An annoyed Ventura offered his most direct form of criticism on the matter.
Robin Ventura on the spin move of Alexei Ramirez: "I don’t know what the purpose is." #WhiteSox— Dan Hayes (@CSNHayes) May 26, 2015
Because the official scorer can't assume the double play, Ramirez wasn't charged with an error for either of the double-play balls he failed to see through to completion. He also won't be charged for not talking to the media, but that's a move that's not going to make his life easier in the near future, internally and/or externally.
I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Beckham starts at short tonight. Maybe the day after, too, because at some point, these shakings are going to have to go from gentle to punitive.