They’re not circling the drain. Maybe they should be, but probably not. You want to be the guy to tell Adrian Beltre that you’re not going to try to play Game 163? Or do you want to be the guy that traded Adrian Beltre? Because you’re going to have to do one of those if you decide to race to the bottom.
Plus even if this team wasn’t busy running into 7th-9th inning icebergs weekly, and were hitting at a relative ceiling, would it still be enough to stride with the Astros for the division? Or would it just be enough to be comfortable with the wild card race?
All this isn’t to say that tanking is a bad idea. For the long term health of the franchise it may be best to sell off what short-term assets are here (I suppose that’s a blitzkrieg negotiation with Yu Darvish [ok maybe a bad term to use historically given] that turns to a trade if you can’t get an extension signed, plus getting what you can for Mike Napoli, Jonathan Lucroy, and the aforementioned Beltre). Maybe you do the same quick and dirty contract talks for Carlos Gomez, who would probably be motivated to stay here.
The only unacceptable course, really, is to throw more future assets at this year. The high value prospects they have are few and dear. The thing they need at the major league level- high value, high leverage late relief- can be found cheap, if you’re lucky (look at Sam Dyson, here and for San Francisco, it seems), but more often than not are overvalued in the trade market. Just say no and go back to winning series.
On Friday Austin Bibens-Dirkx started for Texas and despite giving up back-to-back two out solo homers, would right the ship to give the team six innings or four run ball. It was Colbyish, if I dare.
The offense repaid him by building a 7-3 lead before his final frame. He departed with the score at 7-4, handing over to the bullpen that, while depleted, had two of its best bullets in the chamber in Alex Claudio and Matt Bush.
Claudio gave up a run in the eighth to bring it to 7-5, he allowed a leadoff single to Melky Cabrera who moved into scoring position on a Lucroy passed ball and eventually scored on a Yolmer Sanchez (real name, I looked it up) RBI single.
Then, Bush. Single, Flyout, single, single, double, walk-off, 8-7. I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me but I believe that’s the 83rd time Texas has blown a save this season.
Saturday started off similarly auspiciously; Cole Hamels, after notching the first out, allowed a double-homer-HBP sequence that had us all reaching for the Maalox. Or scotch. Kind of a spectrum there. Then something happened; then it happened again, and again, and again.
That something was Cole Hamels getting the batter in front of him out, and he would do it 19 consecutive times before ceding to Claudio with two outs in the seventh. Six of those outs came from strikes; he walked none on the day. You can generate your theory as you like; mine is that he realized he was facing a PCL team with Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier, and pitched like he was Cole Hamels pitching to a PCL team.
Claudio, upon entering for the exiting Hamels in the seventh and realizing the pattern, immediately allowed two runs (walk, walk, double) before sitting the next seven White Sox down in order (albeit helped in doing so by an eighth inning double play erasing a runner).
On offense, there was more than enough to go around. Old friend Derek Holland was chased in the sixth with four runs to his name and a bequeathed runner on first; that runner was Rougned Odor and he would score on a Napoli homer.
Rougie also added a homer, as did Elvis Andrus previously. Jonathon Lucroy greeted the news that the team was entertaining the thought of trading him (I mean, he is kind of the backup catcher now) with a triple and two walks. The final score was 10-4, and had Sunday not gone better you could make a very good ‘message received’ joke here.
But Sunday eventually did not go well. Tyson Ross continued his wavy pattern with a five inning, four run, five walk day. Injuries are the worst.
He was aided by some… innovative offense? Let’s look at this sequence in the third:
- Pete Kozma reached on error
- Delino Deshields on via fielder’s choice… and error. Thanks review!
- Shin-Soo Choo singled… to shortstop
- Elvis Andrus hits a fielder’s choice to third, Choo out at second - originally called interference on Choo, overturned via replay (run scores)
In short, the Rangers loaded the bases with one out, without the benefit of a ball reaching outfield grass. In a 1-0 game, you’ll take the run they give you, I guess?
An inning later, yakety sax would again be cued up, as Robinson Chirinos stole his first MLB base…. Ever, then advanced to third on the catcher’s throw sailing to center, and scored on Adam Engel’s error on a poorly advised throw to third base.
In the fifth the Rangers loaded the bases again to chase White Sox starter Jose Quintana; this time they broke through with a Lucroy blooper with two outs to take the lead at 5-3.
Matt Bush, newly de-annointed as closer, gave a clean seventh (thanks in no small part to a Robinson Chirinos caught stealing that seemed to reinvigorate him after a leadoff four pitch walk). But, he ceded to Jose Leclerc, who’s turn it was to give up a heartbreaking two-run homer to lose the lead. 84th blown save in 2017, anyone who gives you any other number is fake news.
There was light, though, maybe just from a crack in the wall; the White Sox had deployed closer David Robertson in the eighth to ostensibly ‘get him some work’; he came back out for the ninth, taking a heavier than normal workload to get a five-out save.
A leadoff Rougie single fanned the flames; while he would replaced on the basepaths by Nomar Mazara via a fielder’s choice (and Mazara would then be replaced by Gallo in one of the oddest pinch-running situations ever to explain). Elvis doubled, sending potential tying run Gallo to third and himself, the winning run, a single away. Robertson gave Beltre an intentional walk, and Carlos Gomez strode to the plate.
He struck out swinging, and the heartache sat in. 6-5 was the final.
Shippin’ down to Arlington
The Red Sox come to town for a three game set straddling the July 4th holiday. Boston is 47-35, and has quietly climbed to the AL East lead, and a three game lead at that. They’re doing it with the best pitching in the AL, if you go by Fangraphs’ WAR.
On Monday Martin Perez will oppose Rick Porcello. Porcello is 4-10 on the season with a 5.06 ERA, but he strikes out enough (8.49 per 9) and eats innings which is faint praise for a pitcher who won the American League Cy Young Award just one season ago.
On Tuesday, Yu Darvish opposes David Price. Pretty good pitching matchup, there.
In Wednesday’s post-fireworks finale, Andrew Cashner will attempt to shake off a scary collision with a shattered bat and his pitching arm to face Doug Fister. Fister has made two starts for the Red Sox since being DFA’d by LA. In those two starts he’s pitched 11 innings of 4.91 ERA ball, which is very not bad for a scarp-heap pickup, let’s not kid ourselves.
While celebrating your Independence, consider following Joe on Twitter @thejoeursery like a true patriot.