It was only partly cloudy over U.S. Cellular Field, but it was raining White Sox runs all night.
The Chicago White Sox busted out five runs on Marcus Stroman, who only lasted 0.2 of the first inning. Stroman was 7-3 going into last night’s affair, dominating the Detroit Tigers almost a week ago for 9 innings. However, giving up a lead-off double to Alejandro De Aza, hitting Alexei Ramirez with a pitch, and balking before Jose Abreu singles to right field are not the ways Marcus wanted to open with for the StroShow.
The mess continued that inning, with Adam Dunn grouding out to score Ramirez. Dayan Viciedo then singled to score Abreu and Conor Gillaspie doubled to score Viciedo. To finish off Stroman’s night, Jordan Danks singled to score Gillaspie. Chad Jenkins was brought in to replace Stroman and finished off the inning, but the damage had been done.
This was supposed to be a big night for the Toronto Blue Jays. Edwin Encarnacion had returned from his rehab assignment in Buffalo, where he hit a grand slam for the Herd. The mighty chicken-winged, ball-crushing saviour would undoubtedly be the difference, wouldn’t he?
Yet, it was Adam Lind who started the night off well for the Jays. His single to left field scored Jose Reyes and put the Jays ahead in the top of the first inning. Many Jays fans in attendance cheered loudly and it seemed that the first run comforted them into thinking that all was right with their team again … until the unpleasantness happened with Stroman.
Anthony Gose was sent down to Buffalo to make room for Encarnacion. Many Jays faithful expected Juan Francisco to be moved, after the nineteen-inning marathon against the Tigers. Jays batters continued to be intentionally walked that game so that Detroit pitchers could face Francisco’s limp bat as of late. However, Mike Wilner of Rogers Sportnet in Toronto reported that the Jays are thinking that Francisco’s lefty bat will be more of an asset against right-handed pitching, on the off-chance that he doesn’t strike out, than Gose’s speed on the bases. Until Brett Lawrie gets back, we should be seeing Francisco grace us at third base often.
Well, that manner of thinking did not go into the lineup card last night. Chicago’s starting pitcher, Hector Noesi, is right-handed and yet, he faced Danny Valencia, not Francisco. Valencia did not record a hit in three at-bats, striking out twice.
Noesi also gave up five runs against the Blue Jays. The difference is the timing. After the Blue Jays’ bubble burst, the White Sox also showed why Noesi’s record was 6-8 and the team was second from last place in the AL Central. Reyes scored Colby Rasmus on a sacrifice fly to center field and Melky Cabrera showed again why the Blue Jays need to sign him soon, launching his 15th home run of the season and scoring Munenori Kawasaki. The Jays were now back in the game, losing only by a run. Even giving up a run from a Viciedo single, cashing in Ramirez, could not dampen the Jays fans who continued to cheer for their boys in blue going up to the plate.
Then, the unpleasantness came back in the bottom of the fifth.
Todd Redmond had come in to relieve Jenkins in the fourth inning, but caught a case of whatever Stroman was suffering from in the fifth inning. De Aza singled to center field, scoring Danks. Abreu singled to score Gordon Beckham and De Aza. Dunn singled to center, scoring Ramirez. Redmond’s pitches were down the middle of the plate, making it easy for the White Sox to single the Jays to death. Five more runs came into score, nixing any hopes of a Jays’ comeback.
Dustin McGowan, Aaron Sanchez, Aaron Loup, and Casey Janssen all got to work one full inning without giving up a run. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, the same could be said for the White Sox bullpen. The Blue Jays scored only two baserunners when eight were in scoring position. The White Sox scored nine baserunners of the seventeen in scoring position.
Losing the game 11-5 is not the worst part of last night’s game. It was the way that the Blue Jays lost. A lot of hitting is based on confidence. When they smell blood in the water, MLB hitters are like sharks who turn wild and feast on substandard pitches. Toronto’s pitching staff turned Chicago into Great White Sox, scoring five runs in an inning twice in one game. When your batting lineup sees an almost insurmountable deficit, they tend to be intimidated by it, regardless of the quality of hitter.
Both Jose Bautista and Encarnacion went without a hit, not for a lack of trying. Both had good at-bats, but could not advance much besides one walk between them. Dioner Navarro got two hits often with nobody in scoring position. Melky’s big bash was about the only thrilling thing coming off of any blue bats last night. It’s good to see Cabrera cheering constantly for his teammates on the field and in the dugout. It hopefully inspires the other Blue Jays to stay positive, during tough times. When most of your big hitters are not successful, even when the rest of the lineup is getting on base, you cannot expect to score more than eleven runs. The Blue Jays should be happy that they scored five, with production from the bottom of the lineup, Kawasaki in particular.
Timely hitting can be affected by timely pitching. If you can’t get the outs, the hitters try to do too much or not enough. The Blue Jays seemed to either swing at pitches that they had no business looking at or were too careful in their at-bats to hit pitches that were served up fat for them to hit. Those trends come from wanting to change the game’s outcome in a hurry. Nobody wants to be losing by five runs twice in one game. The fact that the Blue Jays scored five runs should have propelled them to victory. All it did was make the score less of a disaster.
And Kansas City won last night, taking control of the AL Central lead and making the Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, and Los Angeles Angels fighting ahead of the Jays for the final wild card spot. When it rains, it pours.