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It was clear from the beginning of Gavin Floyd’s start on Wednesday night that he had nothing. He was coming off the mound with a hop, and his slider had zero. bite.
Seriously, compare his slider’s break from his last start to this one. There’s no comparison, and he wasn’t even sharp in his outing against the Angels.
Sure enough, he left after the third inning with a sore left hip:
He experienced discomfort in his left hip after an Aug. 26 start at Boston and said he underwent an MRI last week to determine the extent of the discomfort.
“I’ve been able to deal with it for a while,” said Floyd, who described the discomfort as a dull ache.
That explains why he was so shaky on his plant foot. But considering how it started — with four line drives in the first five batters — I’m not sure why he was allowed to continue past the first.
Ozzie Guillen may be more proactive in protecting Floyd’s hip from here on out, saying he may skip Floyd in his next time through the rotation, and there on out if the Sox are out of it. Considering they’re 6 1/2 games out of first, two games behind the estimated catch-up pace and possibly without their No. 2 starter the rest of the season, they are out of it.
They’ll also be without Bartolo Colon, who was officially booted off the 40-man roster, but I don’t think that’ll hurt the Sox as much. Going out on a limb there, I know.
Floyd’s ineffectiveness didn’t cost the Sox — it was their inability to hit the hyphenated man that did them in.
Ryan Rowland-Smith has a few things going for him. He’s the only guy with a conjoined surname in baseball history. He’s Australian. He wears goggles as a starter. He’s also left-handed, throws a fastball in the low 90s and has pretty good control.
But he lacked good command on Wednesday night, at least for the first half of the game. Hell, Jermaine Dye reached a milestone with his 999th and 1,000th “Just Missed Its” — most of them coming since the All-Star break, making it even more impressive — and he still ended up with a pair of singles.
What Rowland-Smith had was a decent straight change. Not a great one, because it lacked the kind of fading action Mark Buehrle’s has. It was just slower than his fastball, and that’s all it takes to baffle Sox hitters. Especially when they’ve never seen a guy.
The Sox really had no excuse for not showing up against Rowland-Smith. They’re the fourth-best team in the American League when it comes to hitting southpaws, and Lord knows they can turn on a lefty’s inside fastball (e.g., Jayson Nix hitting three homers in four at-bats off Joe Saunders). But when a pitcher has a straight change, it neuters them (e.g., Nix bailing and flailing twice on Rowland-Smith’s change).
What’s especially frustrating about nights like Wednesday is that the Sox seemed to understand how to get to Rowland-Smith at times. Six of their nine hits went to the opposite field or back up the middle. It just so happened that when it came down to crunch time, you’d get Carlos Quentin pulling an outside fastball for an easy 6-4-3 double play, or Alex Rios — who smoked a couple balls to center — pulling off the ball and hitting a nubber in front of the plate with a runner on third and less than two outs.
Hawk Harrelson, who has thankfully abandoned the practice of tipping caps to pitchers the Sox have never faced before, criticized the Sox once again for their struggles against a guy with seemingly unimpressive stuff. And it’s another night I’ll point to when I operate under the presumption that Greg Walker will not be back next season.
If you wanted to offer a counterpoint that the Sox won’t make that many changes, you can point to Guillen’s postgame comments.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Sox are going back to basics in the spring for the fourth consecutive season. Which would really make it back-to-back-to-back-to-back to basics:
”That’s going to be our main thing in spring training — make sure we do the little things right day in and day out. If we do that we won’t go into slumps like we do this year. We’re not going to be in a slump because someone will do something to break it up. We won’t have to wait for the big boys to wake up all season long. You learn from it, and hopefully we continue to improve.”
I’ll still go with my theory — stop trying to pull unpullable pitches.