With Chris Sale making his return to Chicago to square off against the White Sox and their ace, Jose Quintana, everyone watching was expecting a big time pitcher duel. This was not the case.
I hate myself for saying this, but Tuesday night, I could’ve sworn that I was watching Drew Pomeranz pitch. Sale was getting himself into jams, avoiding pitching to contact, and throwing a ton of pitches in the process. Coming into this game, Sale only had one appearance all season in which he had gone less than 7 innings, but on Tuesday night he struggled to make it through 5. Maybe the emotions of pitching against his former team got to him, or it could be possible that they just have a better scouting report on him since he’d pitched there for nearly his whole career. Despite what he’d like us to think, Chris Sale is human. He’s not just some machine programmed to go 7 or 8 innings with 10+ strikeouts, while giving up 2 runs or less. He’s going to have bad starts. But what makes him great is that he can still go out there and keep his team in the game on nights like this. Even when things weren’t going right, he wanted the ball in his hand. That’s an ace.
The biggest surprise of Tuesday’s game wasn’t even Sale’s rough night, it was Deven Marrero. In 2134 plate appearance at various levels of the minor leagues, Marrero had hit just 17 home runs. That’s approximately one every 126 plate appearances. Nonetheless, Marrero was able to take White Sox ace Jose Quintana deep in both the 2nd and 3rd innings to give him 5 RBI’s on the night. Regardless of the fact that Marrero was hitting .175 coming into the game, I loved seeing him showcase some power. If he can provide a little pop and play some solid defense at 3rd base, then he will be a far more valuable asset to this team than Pablo Sandoval. It’s only a matter of time before John Farrell and his staff realize that.
One last thing that needs to be said is how much it pisses me off when the Red Sox actually let Sam Travis play. We can all clearly see how good of a hitter this kid is, yet his talent is constantly wasted as he sits on the bench for the majority of the time. It must really suck to know that even a 3 for 4 night with 2 extra base hits probably isn’t enough to keep you in the lineup for the next game. I guess we have to give Mitch Moreland credit for making it a tough decision, especially with his pinch hit 2-run bomb on Tuesday night, but I’d really like to see what Travis can do when given consistent playing time at the big league level.
Rather than focusing on the standings or focusing on any one aspect of the team, the Red Sox need to be focused on finding ways to win. They need to take it one game at a time. As much as it pains me to say this, John Farrell has done a good job of managing with this in mind. For example, bringing in Craig Kimbrel for a 4-out save was a decision that I can respect. It shows that he isn’t going to take an opportunity to win a game for granted. So the Red Sox just need to stay focused on winning each game, and they can worry about the standings later. With Drew Pomeranz set to take the hill against Chicago on Wednesday, they’re going to need all hands on deck. It’s going to be a long night.
Photo Credit: (The Boston Globe)