Heartbreak reared its ugly head at the Cell for the Sox, as the Southsiders found a way to let one slip away. One strike away from a victory, Addison Reed gave Jose Bautista a hittable fastball that he didn’t miss, tying the game by sending it into the Sox bullpen. An inning later, Ramon Troncoso got hit by the Blue Jays, and by the fact that Tyler Flowers is his catcher. The Sox fell 7-5.
If you have the stomach to do so, let’s relive some of the keys to this one ...
It’s unfortunate that I’m about to pick on the guy because he did have two hits, but if Tyler Flowers is not behind the dish, there’s a good chance the Sox win this ballgame.
He cost the White Sox a run in the top of the second inning with one of his patented passed balls on pitches that weren’t even far out of the strike zone. In the tenth, he failed to block a Ramon Troncoso pitch in the dirt (although it wasn’t an easy play, a major league catcher certainly makes that) AND failed to hold onto the ball while trying to tag out Maicer Izturis at home plate.
While it’s possible that one or two of these runs could have crossed the plate due to other plays that happened in those innings, there’s no doubting that Flowers’ defense just KILLS this teams momentum at times. I don’t know how much longer the White Sox need to see this kind of defense before they make a move, as it’s not like Flowers has a track record like some of the other struggling players on this ball club.
Yes, he’s starting to hit a little bit, but you cannot have this poor of a defensive player at the most important defensive position on the diamond and expect to win consistently.
The Sox got away with it on Monday, but they were unable to last night. We saw Alejandro De Aza get picked off of first base, Gordon Beckham get thrown out at third base to end an inning, and Alexei Ramirez get doubled off on an Adam Dunn line drive (although it was a shot, Munenori Kawasaki was playing the shift and was directly behind the bag).
Also, in the same inning as the Dunn lineout double play, Joe McEwing (who is definitely one of the league’s best over there coaching third base) held up De Aza on a play that he would have almost certainly have been safe. At least it looked that way from my vantage point at the ballpark.
All of that combined means the White Sox ran themselves out of maybe two or three more runs. So, if we add those runs and subtract Toronto’s that came on the Flowers miscues and the Alexei Ramirez error in the second, It’s not far-fetched to think the Sox should have won this game by a final of 8-4 or 8-5. Yes, it was THAT bad.
QUINTANA’S OUTING AND THE BULLPEN
Jose Quintana hasn’t had his best stuff over his last few outings, but in his last two, he’s found a way to keep the team in the ballgame. He did that again tonight, and left in line for the win after giving up four runs over 6.1 innings.
Nate Jones entered in the seventh; making this the first time he’s thrown in a pressure situation since that horrendous outing at Wrigley Field. He did his job in the seventh, but Matt Thornton entered after Jones let a base runner reach in the eighth.
Despite looking shaky early Thornton righted himself and got the Sox out of a first-and-third, no out jam by taking advantage of J.P. Arencibia’s lack of plate discipline and rolling a double play ball from Maicer Izturis.
However, Addison Reed just didn’t have it considering it was his fourth straight game on the hill. His command was off and his velocity was a tick down, most likely due to the fatigue. While Kawasaki and Melky Cabrera didn’t make him pay, Bautista did.
Ramon Troncoso pitched the tenth, and his adventure was already visited in this wrap’s portion about Flowers. If you dare, you can go back and read it for yourself, but expect side effects of anger and deep depression.
OFFENSE NOT TOO SHABBY
If there’s a bright spot, at least the offense wasn’t bad for the fourth consecutive game.
They couldn’t get a run to cross after the fourth inning, but to their credit, they hit the ball hard at Toronto fielders on multiple occasions. Alex Rios continues to be steady (3-for-5), Conor Gillaspie hit a big three-run homer that broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth (although he looked awful against Brett Cecil in the ninth inning), Dayan Viciedo had two hits and hit the ball hard all night, and De Aza doubled down the line and continues to have his good plate approach.
The offense was facing a man making his first start in almost a year in Chien-Ming Wang, but he lasted a lot longer than one might have expected. Despite giving up five runs, 10 hits, and three walks, Wang threw just 93 pitches threw 7.1. That line shows that while the Sox did hit him hard, they probably could have worked the count a bit better.
It will be Chris Sale against Esmil Rogers at the Cell on Wednesday in the rubber match. The Sox were riding some positive momentum, but last night’s loss has the ability to be the kind of defeat that deflates a team. However, there’s no better person to have on the mound the following day than your ace.