White Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: Return of the Mack

Title: White Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: Return of the Mack
Date: April 16, 2013
Original Source: Bluebird Banter
Synopsis: This was a post-game recap for the Apr. 16 game between the Jays and the White Sox.

Y’all like baseball, huh? Another 1600 comments tonight, and I’m sure that number will climb as I write this, possibly with some second guessing of a certain managerial decision. Allow me to recap:

In the bottom of the seventh, Colby Rasmus was set to lead off against Hector Santiago, a lefty who held left-handed batters to a .592 OPS last season. Rasmus has struggled against lefties in the recent past, posting just a .554 OPS against them last year (though he is 2-for-6 with a pair of doubles this year).

So John Gibbons gave him the hook for Rajai Davis, a righty with a .764 career OPS against southpaws.

This substitution alone is justifiable. (However, I disagree with it, and would have preferred to let him hit and play defence, while saving Davis as a pinch-runner or pinch hitter in a higher leverage situation.) The sub coming in the seventh meant the Jays were committing to two innings with Emilio Bonifacio in centerfield, an appreciable downgrade on defence.

Now, hindsight is 20/20, but two things would later happen that led some to question it on twitter (I joined in, tongue-in-cheek): Bonifacio had a ball go over his head in center, and Davis would later get up against a righty where Colby would have been a better choice.

The first point is kind of moot – though Rasmus is a better defender, he was pretty damn unlikely to get to that ball.

The second, however, was predictable since the Sox employ right-handed Addison Reed as a closer.

But I understand the move, even if I disagree with it – at the time, Gibbons thought the value in having Davis hit against a lefty was greater than the potential loss from plays later (or, it was a “play to get the lead, deal with the fall out later” mentality, which is fine as well).

The one sour note from the move is that the best solution for the whole situation just got DFAd so the team can carry a super-deep bullpen – Casper Wells. Wells is a good-to-great defender at all three outfield positions and crushes lefties. He would have provided more value in that pinch hit at bat while also creating far less of a defensive drop off. But alas, he doesn’t have a guaranteed deal and the team needs 417 relievers.

Anyway, back to the game, which was tied at 2 until the top of the ninth. Steve Delabarcame in for his second inning of work and walked the first two batters. After a strike out, he allowed a two-run double to Dayan Viciedo to give the White Sox the lead for good.

In the bottom half of the ninth, Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind hit back-to-back singles to start a potential rally. Brett Lawrie just missed a ball that ended up going for a sacrifice fly to score Encarnacion, but then Davis and Maicer Izturis flew out to end things.

4-3 loss, and one that really slipped through their fingers.

Josh Johnson deserved better, having gone seven strong, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks, piling up eight strikeouts. He loaded the bases in the second and uncorked a wild pitch to let a run cross, but otherwise he was on point. A Paul Konerko home run is forgivable, especially since Johnson only allowed four balls in the air in total. Perhaps most importantly, he hit 94 MPH with his fastball in the first inning and held that velocity into the seventh. Nails performance for Johnson, which included the Jays’ first one-two-three first inning of the year (!!).

Lawrie, of course, returned, getting reacquainted with the field and the fans in the first with an easy play. Later, though, Lawrie would make an insane bare-handed play on an infield dribbler to retire Viciedo, a stunning reminder of just how much he adds defensively.

Rasmus also put on his Colby Smashmus hat for the fourth time, while J.P. Aren-see-ya hit his fifth. Good stretch of swings for those two.

And finally…Munenori Kawasaki Over Everything. The guy is the best, and it’s a shame he was caught stealing so we were robbed of a surely hilarious celebration. Lo Viste, Nori.

What’d I miss? Are you taking positives away from this loss? Jumping back off the bandwagon?

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