Conditioning, conditions give White Sox two tough unscheduled foes

Tied at 2 and heading into the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday afternoon, the White Sox had an opportunity to steal a win and series in walk-off fashion. Tim Anderson came to the plate first and led off with a routine grounder to Nicky Lopez at short, but Lopez’s throw failed to qualify as such. It was high and toward home plate, causing Carlos Santana to leap for the throw as Anderson attempted to duck under him.

Santana saved the play, slapping the tag on Anderson’s hip before Anderson’s foot hit the bag. The replay showed that Anderson could have reached had he been running hard from the get-go, but he took his time getting going.

The White Sox went on to lose 5-2 in 10 innings for their ninth loss in 10 games. It’s the kind of play where Tony La Russa had the option of chewing him out, but he regarded the effort level as conscious conservation.

Neither the visuals nor the reaction satisfy, but after three injuries near first base, we can at least comprehend the risk of running too hard. Among the numerous frustrating elements of the White Sox’s 1-9 slump is the general sense that every effort and intention is misplaced.

When Eloy Jiménez and his sore ankle took it easy on a grounder to the left side on April 22, he didn’t realize the ball had a stopover at second base before the out at first. Had he hustled, he would have extended the inning.

A day later, Jiménez hit a chopper to the left side, this time soft enough to smell a hit. He ran down the line at 110 percent, and that extra 10 percent carried him to the back of the bag instead of the front of it. The awkward landing resulted in a hamstring tear that will keep him out of action for six to eight weeks.

Oh, and he was out.

The White Sox are damned if they do, damned if they don’t, and not just when they have to balance the sudden danger of running hard to first base with the chance of stealing a hit in high-leverage situations.

Jake Burger hits a fly ball Statcast with an exit velocity, launch angle and direction that would send it out in every MLB park, and yet at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday night, it loses 30 feet of carry.

Aaron Bummer gets a pair of grounders for a double play and a scoreless ninth inning when Kendall Graveman and Liam Hendriks are unavailable, and his reward is a 10th that exposes his ongoing control problems to their breaking point, so he gets saddled with the loss instead. The road to hell is supposedly paved with good intentions, yet the White Sox aren’t even getting warmth out of the deal.

It’s such a spectacular run of bad timing that luck eventually has to turn in their favor, and it’d probably be easier to believe if the 2021 Minnesota Twins didn’t just serve as a living-yet-pulseless example that sometimes regression never comes.

The question is how quickly they can recover from some maladies that are targeted for outsized impact, such as:

The candidates for biggest in-house improvement have all been hurt: A full season of Luis Robert is still possible, but everybody gets to develop a healthy fear of life without him. Eloy Jiménez made enough loud contact to tempt before he disappeared. AJ Pollock fails to resemble an upgrade in right field when he goes two weeks without playing, and every one of Yoán Moncada’s on-field winces is going to stoke fear of a lowered ceiling on his production.

Aaron Bummer is struggling after Garrett Crochet got hurt: The White Sox could absorb the loss of one of their MLB lefties, but not when the other abruptly lost his trustworthiness. It hurts double when Liam Hendriks is dealing with a back issue, as Bummer was also supposed to supply a general high-leverage option regardless of handedness.

Terrible defense behind the starter who most needs support: The command Dallas Keuchel has displayed suggests he’ll be hard-pressed to last the half, but if he’s going to have starts that teeter on the brink, it’d at least be educational if he let everybody down by himself. Right now, he’s getting the kind of support that would render even a 2020 Keuchel mediocre.

As long as these elements are present, what’s left is a lineup where Anderson is the only good player who isn’t station-to-station, and his effect is muted when he has his own concerns about going full throttle during a time when first base has already injured a few of his teammates, and he’s playing six-errors-over-three-games kind of defense. The Sox still might be able to absorb that with the kind of power that’s still on hand, except MLB decided to store the baseballs in Lake Michigan this year. What’s left is steady pressure through plate discipline, and they’re going the wrong direction there.

The White Sox are fighting the bases. The White Sox are fighting the balls. When the issues are that fundamental, it really doesn’t matter who the opponent is.

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

Articles: 3916
25 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
ParisSox

Yup.

As Cirensica

BenwithVen

Ja

Foulkelore

Oui … suck

Trooper Galactus

Da…….Bears.

Andy51

There is no way TA was running as hard as he could yesterday. He sped up when he saw the throw would be off but it was too late. It’s the 9th inning; tie game and top of the order up. There has to be a better effort and having TLR cover for TA like that is really pushing it. This was a game the Sox should have won and it could have easily ended in the 9th.
Time to step things up and a good place to start is to HUSTLE!

As Cirensica

Time to step things up and a good place to start is to HUSTLE!

You misspelled “hiring a new manager”.

Augusto Barojas

lol my thoughts exactly. TLR will cost them 5+ games in the standings by season end both by stupid decisions and vibe, easily. Biggest clubhouse cancer of all time.

joewho112

I am no Captain Hustle. Players can’t and shouldn’t go 100% all the time. But bottom of the 9th in a tie game: It’s hustle time. If not, when is?

Trooper Galactus

I agree, though, in fairness, it hurt my legs just getting up out of my seat to grab an elote. The cold really was a factor in some respects.

Alfornia Jones

VV and DK pitch back to back Sat & Sun. Ignoring the need to break these two up, the focus should be throwing everything they have at supporting the other three starters, especially a winnable game. Forcing Bummer to go two innings is madness when your closer is a self professed workaholic.

With Gio going tonight, provided he keeps them in the game, they need to support him with all their best in the 6-9 innings. Liam/Graveman can rest Sat & Sun. This is the only chance they have at stopping the bleeding, and making the deficit more manageable. Conserving bullets during Kopech/Gio/Cease starts is not acceptable.

I think we can agree that the next “lack of hustle” ” low energy” ” more effort needed” article is the death knell.

Augusto Barojas

Even if DK hasn’t pitched well, they only scored a total of 1 run in both his past two starts. As much as I hate to watch the back end of their rotation, their offense isn’t giving any of their starters much chance to win no matter how they pitch.

Torpedo Jones

True, and I’d add that we might feel a little less down on DK’s performance if the defense didn’t totally leave him out to dry as he was generating low-damage hits that should’ve been routinely fielded outs.

Augusto Barojas

DK was not terrible in 2 of 3 outings so far. Too early to write him off because he had one disaster start. He will probably have those, but if he can be decent even half his outings that’s probably a lot better than Velasquez.

a-t

I think Liam’s back is probably still bothering him

As Cirensica

The decision of TLR to keep Liam pitching when he was clearly wincing has already cost Liam a couple of games. I used to be indifferent with Tony, but jeez…the guy has been atrocious this year.

Last edited 11 months ago by As Cirensica
Shingos Cheeseburgers

A lockout that would have extended to mid/late June may have been a good thing for this team.

chipporter

So, when I use the overly broad term, the manager doesn’t have his team ready to play, here is a great example.

Rather than blaming the cold, the ball, the base or the devil…

Eloy and TA both got caught not hustling to first on plays that would have gone differently, had they. Eloy got hurt, because, if he had hustled to first on that first play, and been safe, he wouldn’t have felt the need to go apeshit all out showing that he really cares, the day he hurts himself.

They just need to give a credible accounting for themselves and their efforts, and that’s what Tony The Russa can’t get them to do.

huisj

Tony The Russa. I like that nickname. Sounds like an old KW quote, something like “we didn’t just want someone like Tony La Russa, we wanted Tony The Russa.” Only it’s JR saying it instead.

chipporter

I plagiarized it from someone else here…not ashamed to steal a good thought.

calcetinesblancos

Can I raise a practical question at this point? Are we gonna do Stonehenge tomorrow? Can we send Bummer down to AAA?

Trooper Galactus

No, I do not think the problem was that the team was down last night. I think the problem was that we had a stone-faced manager in the dugout in danger of being crushed by the weight of fan expectations.

GrinnellSteve

Any idea why Thor isn’t starting tonight? Cy Young candidate Jimmy Herget is taking his place.

jorgefabregas

illness, not thought to be COVID

GrinnellSteve

Thanks.