Hoping a homestand would be the cure for what ailed them during a rocky week on the road, the White Sox tried to reduce the heat under Robin Ventura's seat during the pregame media scrum. Some footage from before the game:
"To make one individual the focal point? I don't think that's fair," Hahn said. "This accountability is shared across the board — starting with the players in uniform, going to the coaches, the manager, the front office. This is on all of us." [...]
"We're all in this together," Hahn said. "In times of adversity it's more important for us to pull together and reinforce what we're doing as a unit than to say anything specific about any individual." [...]
"In terms of making a move just to make a move, that's how you get yourself into trouble," Hahn said. "While we're looking at different alternatives, internal or external, in terms of making a move, this is the team we want out there right now."
Kenny Williams was also there to greet the team, and from Daryl Van Schouwen's account, he was more up for playing bad cop:
Williams was in a bad mood Monday as he tried to dissect everything he’s seen in the first four weeks, and Tuesday wasn’t much better. When he heard a profane rap song playing in the Sox clubhouse turned off (sic), he had it turned off and questioned the judgment of it being played in the first place before apologizing for it to a female reporter.
You can take that as a strong move or a superficial one, but it does match the theme of togetherness. If Ventura's uncomfortable, and the front office is unhappy, then the players deserve to be un-something.
Fortunately, Jeff Samardzija was decidedly something against the Tigers in the opener -- seven innings of two-run ball, and none after the second inning. He showed his mettle by striking out Miguel Cabrera on three pitches when he represented the tying run:
"Yeah, let him beat us the other way," catcher Geovany Soto said about the plan to pitch to Cabrera on the outside part of the plate. "In that particular situation right there, that's why we stayed away later in the game if he had a runner on or a couple. [Samardzija] was dominating both corners of the plate and, as a hitter, it's a little bit tough to cover both sides of the plate, and that's where he was great today."
And he showed his threshold for pain when he took a line drive to the arm and still recorded the out:
"I'm good," Samardzija said, showing the indentations made in his flesh by the seams of the baseball. "If [the Chicago Blackhawks' Brent] Seabrook can stay in the game taking a puck off the face, I can [make the play] with a ball off the arm."
The Sox have alternated wins and losses during his six starts, but he's stepped up in both of his starts against the Tigers -- three runs over 15 innings -- and that's a crucial task during what is currently a one-year stay.
This particular start also fulfilled their short-term plan. The Sox were able to delay his suspension long enough to get in one more start against a divisional rival, and he made it count. He's expected to drop his appeal and start serving his time today, which would make him unavailable for his next turn against Cincinnati on Sunday. Carlos Rodon in currently in position to fill in.
The other two key pitching acquisitions supported Samardzija on Tuesday -- Zach Duke pitching an easy 1-2-3 inning, and David Robertson working around a Micah Johnson error for his fourth save.
But going back to Duke, Colin had a first impression of him last month:
If anything Zach Duke has gotten craftier since becoming a reliever. Not much fun to catch though. He's really calling his own game.— Jose Fewer (@colintj) April 12, 2015
Duke was a little erratic in his first couple of outings. However, after walking two batters in his first two outings, he's only walked two over his last 10, so I think he's made it a little easier in that regard.
But he does like to mix it up, and he caught Geovany Soto off-guard with his final pitch of the night.
The good news? The quick pitch surprised J.D. Martinez more.