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With his closer career on the ropes yet again, Bobby Jenks reached into his back pocket on Wednesday night and found the extra heat that has eluded him over the last few years.
Comcast’s gun was just a little hot. It clocked Jenks’ best heater at 99 m.p.h.; Brooks had it at only 98.9 m.p.h.
Really, Jenks pitched angry. He threw really hard, running fastballs. He didn’t have the hammer, but his slider was pretty close to it, disappearing down and in to Justin Smoak to end the game.
Two different pitches sealed the deal. It was just that easy, which makes you wonder why it rarely is for him.
My half-assed, armchair psychologist assessment says it probably has to do with confidence. Maybe his best fastball comes and goes, and when he’s not feeling 100 percent, he thinks he needs to out-think hitters to get by, and he isn’t that practiced in the ways of craftiness to get it done.
Ozzie Guillen responds by doubting him. Fans respond by booing him. And that makes him angry:
“Before I got in the game, some (idiot) was out there telling me I (stink),” Jenks told MLB.com after striking out the side for his 21st save. “You know, where has he been the last six years that I’ve been doing my job?
“Situations like that, it bothers me a little bit. But not enough to where it affects me. I look at it and say, ‘Who is this guy? Does he know baseball?’
“Is he a fan or just a numbers guy and looks at the numbers and judges where I’m at. And obviously my numbers aren’t good,” said a defiant Jenks with a laugh. “I’ve had a few bad ones so far. All and all, in save situations, I’ve been doing my job when I’ve been healthy out there.”
What Jenks says is both true and false. Yes, Jenks has been more effective than he feels, but the form he showed on Wednesday night has been fleeting, and there’s a reason why his manager has to press him.
He could very well be like a racehorse, and when he starts to flag, Guillen has to respond with a whip. Or maybe his stuff just fluctuates more wildly than other pitchers, and Guillen doesn’t make much of a difference.
But if Jenks consistently threw like he did Wednesday, it wouldn’t matter. He eliminated all mystery and overwhelmed hitters with talent. No changeups. No cutters. No sinkers. Just a good fastball and a good breaking ball.
Sometimes it’s just that simple, and maybe when his career is over, we’ll finally figure out why it hasn’t been.
Daniel Hudson faces yet another referendum on his talent on Friday night, making his (final?) start during the trading period’s last 24 hours.
In his first three starts, the slider has been the deciding factor in whether his outing turns into a quality start or a total slog, and I asked minor-league pitching coordinator Kirk Champion (it’s really hard to think of a more All-American name than that) about whether the slider was the cause of his slow start in the minors.
That’s a pitch that probably hasn’t progressed as fast as his changeup or the locating of his fastball. He’s certainly had it in stretches. It’s just an arm slot thing for him. If he stays on it and stays over it, it’s a quality pitch.
Rick Morrissey says the Sox should focus on a fifth starter instead of a left-handed power threat because, of course, Jim Thome turned the Sox into losers (sliiiiiiight exaggeration on my part).
But the idea of investing in yet another pitcher seems to put the Sox well past the point of diminishing returns. The Sox have an expensive rotation that’s only going to get pricier next year as John Danks goes through arbitration and Gavin Floyd receives his raise.
The Sox are 2-1 when Hudson pitches, even as poorly as he’s performed — and we know he can throw better. Do we know that a fifth starter could experience more success over such a small sample, commensurate with what it would cost to acquire him?
That’s hard to say. What isn’t hard to say is that a left-handed bat like Dunn would be a marked experience over Mandruw Kojones. So I think if we’re only talking about trades in terms of getting your currency’s worth, a hitter is the only worthwhile way to go.
By the way, I’d go through more of the call, but evidently U-God at South Side Sox, who is also on the call, is transcribing the entire half hour. He started on Wednesday with hitting coordinator Jeff Manto.
Minor league roundup:
- Louisville 7, Charlotte 5
- Brent Morel went 2-for-4 with a double.
- Tyler Flowers singled and struck out over four ABs.
- Alejandro De Aza went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a strikeout.
- Jeremy Reed hit two solo homers.
- Brandon Hynick allowed five runs on 11 hits and a walk over six innings, striking out three.
- Chattanooga 12, Birmingham 7
- Not good, Kyle Bellamy: four hits, five runs, three walks, one strikeout (the only batter retired).
- Christian Marrero went 3-for-5 with a double and a strikeout.
- Eduardo Escobar went 1-for-5 with a double.
- C.J. Retherford homered, doubled and struck out over five ABs.
- John Shelby doubled twice, walked once and struck out twice.
- Winston-Salem 8, Kinston 5
- Jose Martinez doubled and walked over four PAs.
- Brandon Short went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts; Jon Gilmore wore a collar, striking out once.
- Joe Serafin allowed three runs on six hits and three walks over five innings, striking out four.
- Bristol 4, Danville 0 (Game 1, 9 innings)
- Jacob Petricka retired all five he faced before the game was suspended Tuesday night.
- Rangel Ravelo walked twice and struck out once.
- Screamin’ Kevin Moran went 1-2-3 in the ninth.
- Danville 2, Bristol 1 (Game 2, 7 innings)
- Silver sombrero for Daniel Black.