Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Take and Give on the South Side

José Quintana (top) and Chris Sale, Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago
It wasn't what I'd imagined. Chris Sale's return to Chicago to face José Quintana didn't result in a low-scoring nail-biter. Quite the contrary. But the Red Sox 13 to 7 victory was still a very entertaining affair. Love the game more than the team, my mantra of this century.

It was a classic Take & Give Affair. After a quiet first inning for both pitchers, Quintana gave up three doubles and two home runs in the top of the second: score, 4-0. In the bottom frame, Sale gave up a walk and four singles; score, 4-3. In the top of the third, Q gave up two singles and another homer to Devon Marrero: score, 7-3. In the bottom of the inning, Tom Anderson knocked in Avisail Garcia from third; in the bottom of the fourth, Todd Frazier homered with Leury Gracia on base. Three more runs for the White Sox: score, 7-6. Naturally, at the top of the next inning, White Sox pitching, being good hosts, felt obligated to give those runs back via a three-run Jackie Bradley home run. Etc.

My pre-game prediction, written in jest, wasn't very funny after a while:

Quintana lasted two and two thirds, and his ERA ballooned to 5:60. Sale pitched five innings and struck out nine, though his slider wasn't particularly nasty—White Sox chased a lot of high stuff, and Sale noticed—and he gave up five earned. Not a stellar night for pitching.


The defeat-and-surge play was fun to watch, for a while, until it wasn't. There were three Red Sox fans in my row in Box 120; I became friendly with them as the night progressed, the talk moving from fanly allegiances to baseball news to How's the family? as can happen during a game. This is one of the many reasons I love taking in a game at the park, the camaraderie, however, shallow, that's forged among strangers for a few hours. That, and the way your eye can choose what it wants. When I was a kid and went with my Dad to Baltimore Orioles games at the old Memorial Stadium, he'd always bring a pocket binoculars with him, to watch the action on the field closely—we never had great seats—and to peer into the dugout. That curiosity has been passed on to me. On television, a commercial interrupts before you can watch a player head into the warmth or chill of the dugout after a plate appearance or the end of an inning. Last night's Dugout Drama featured a couple vivid scenes: after Dan Jennings induced two ground outs to end the fifth inning in which he surrendered Bradley's home run, he stalked into the dugout and strode swiftly past his teammates as if he were sliding downhill; everything looked tilted by his anger and self-disgust. After Jose Abreu lined sharply to second baseman Josh Routledge to end the sixth, Abreu stood on first looking baffled. White Sox first base coach Daryl Boston customarily took the slugger's bating helmet from him, and the two chatted, about what? Probably how frustrating baseball is.

Speaking of which, the career-challenged Matt Davdison, a player I'm watching closely this year, DH'd last night and struck out five times. I'd never seen that before. (Jim Margalus at South Side Sox reminds us, "It’s the third such game for a White Sox hitter since last August. Before then, they hadn’t had a five-strikeout game since 1998." Selective memory on my part, I guess.) After his final K, Davidson stood alone in the dugout, gravely removing his batting glove, a tableau of misery. There wasn't a player with fifteen feet of him. There are no words.

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