The bullpen managed to put us on the edge of our seats for this one, but nevertheless, the White Sox came out winners over the Red Sox 6-4. Our Palehose have now one six out of the last nine, and really are starting to look more like the 85-win team they were a year ago.
AXELROD STRONG AGAIN
Once again, Dylan Axelrod just went out there and did his job. He’s not anything fancy and he’s not going to overpower anybody, but the man knows how to pitch. Six innings of two-run ball against a powerful lineup like Boston is impressive for any starter, let alone for a guy fighting to stay in this rotation.
In my opinion, Dylan Axelrod showed tonight that he belongs in this rotation over Hector Santiago for the time being.
Tonight’s quality start was his sixth of that nature over his last seven outings, and he’s only had one really bad outing this season where he didn’t really give the team a chance to win (his second start of the year in Washington). Santiago may be more capable of having that completely dominant outing, but Axelrod looks like the more consistent pitcher at this point, which is what you are looking for more than anything else with a fifth starter.
BULLPEN: DID ROBIN YANK “AXE” TOO QUICKLY?
Axelrod was pulled after 87 pitches through six innings, and Matt Thornton promptly came in and gave up two runs in the seventh. It almost was four, as Jarrod Saltlamacchia missed a home run that would have tied the game by about five feet.
A lot of people, whether it be in the stands at the game (which I was lucky enough to attend tonight) or on social media, questioned the move to yank Axelrod after just 87 pitches. Honestly, my instinct would have been to do the same, as Axelrod got hit pretty hard in the sixth and let up some deep fly balls.
However, what I do think was mis-managed was Thornton, as we’ve seen time and time again over the past two years or so that he’s no longer a guy that can go full innings facing both left-handed and right-handed hitters.
This is a guy who is probably best served as a lefty specialist right now, and should be used as such. If Thornton just faces Ortiz and Matt Lindstrom came in to face the rest of the order in the seventh, odds are that the pulling of Axelrod wouldn’t even be a topic of discussion after this game.
Once again, though, Jesse Crain and Addison Reed shut the door to end this one. This time, Addison made it a bit more exciting, as Will Middlebrooks just missed a game-tying homerun that took Alejandro De Aza back up against the center field fence.
Too bad for the Red Sox that almost only counts in horseshoes, and “Automatic Addison” is not 15-for-16 in save opportunities on the season.
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
While I’m usually an advocate of being aggressive at the plate early in the count, the WHite Sox have been able to turn things around on offense by being more selective. Considering the White Sox believe a big part of the struggles of the offense had to do with the team “trying to do too much,” this looks like the correct adjustment to make. We saw them really make John Lester work today, being patient early in the count and extending at-bats by fouling off a ton of pitches with two strikes.
No one has done a better job of this over the past week or two than Dayan Viciedo, as ever since he’s come off the disabled list, this guy has been a totally different hitter. Viciedo’s lack of walks have been a common punch line, but “Tank” has SEVEN walks in his 11 games since returning from the DL. That’s not a typo, and that’s almost one-third of his TOTAL walks from last season.
This patience has not only allowed him to up his OBP, but it allows him to have some outstanding at-bats like his nine pitch RBI single in the fifth inning. It was, in my opinion, his best at-bat in a White Sox uniform, as I’ve never seen him work a count quite like that. If he can manage to keep this patient approach up, he’s going to be scary.
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Felix Doubront will oppose Jose Quintana and the White Sox tomorrow. Doubront is a guy with a nice record of 3-1 this season, but has struggled quite a bit lately as his ERA has balooned to 6.03. However, he’s defeated the White Sox in both of his career starts against them, and a lot of our hitters have had their struggles against him.
Let’s hope the team can stay locked-in at the plate and turn the tide on Doubront.