Have you ever overstayed your welcome? This feeling creeps into you that everyone’s smile is just a front. Their eyes are getting wider and their grins are much more firm, framing their previous joy with tension that was not there before. For at least some Boston Red Sox fans, watching starting pitcher Wade Miley in the seventh inning of last night’s game against the Chicago White Sox must have been a time for those ill-fated smiles. Did Miley look out to the stands and feel that sense of strained, rigid eyes staring at him?
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In front of over 14 300 people in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, the Red Sox looked at home after winning the first game of the series the night before. Even though White Sox second baseman Carlos Sanchez singled to score Alexei Ramirez in the bottom of the second inning, the deficit was short-lived against Chicago’s starter Jose Quintana.
In the top of the third inning, with two outs and one runner on base, Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts smacked his 29th double of the season that cashed in Josh Rutledge. Betts was actually able to round all of the bases home, because of a Ramirez throwing error. The Red Sox took the lead 2-1.
White Sox right fielder Trayce Thompson fired back with a single to right field, scoring Jose Abreu in the bottom of the fourth inning. However, in the top of the sixth, Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval doubled to right field that scored Betts to reclaim the lead, 3-2. Boston’s first baseman Travis Shaw added to it by grounding into a fielder’s choice that scored Sandoval.
Then came the seventh inning.
The White Sox started the frame by relieving their starting pitcher, while the Red Sox left their starter in to start the bottom half. At that point, even though runs had been scored on him, Miley was getting groundball outs, so the Red Sox must have felt that he had at least one more inning left in him. The bullpen, all season, has been sketchy as to their consistency. Why use them if you don’t have to do so?
With a runner on second and one out, Miley uncorked a wild pitch which advanced Gordon Beckham to third. White Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera then singled softly to center field, scoring Beckham to make it 4-3. After a coach’s visit to the mound, the pressure mounted on the Red Sox batterymen, as catcher Ryan Hanigan allowed a Miley pitch to be a passed ball, advancing Cabrera into scoring position. A strikeout and a walk later, Thompson doubled sharply to left field, cashing in both Cabrera and Avisail Garcia. The White Sox now led 5-4.
That play prompted the change to Alexi Ogando for Miley. As the lefty walked off of the mound, you couldn’t help but wonder if Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo had allowed Miley to stay too long.
For this game, at least, he had. The Red Sox bats finished the eighth and ninth innings with a combined five strikeouts and one flyout to the White Sox bullpen. Miley took the loss in a close affair, his 10th of the season.
- Shaw was caught stealing second base in the top of the fourth inning by White Sox catcher Geovany Soto. Jackie Bradley Jr. was picked off by the catcher at second base as well, in the top of the fifth inning. Clearly, the Red Sox must have, unfortunately, took Soto’s arm too lightly.
- Bradley made up for his play in the bottom of the eighth inning by gunning down Sanchez at third base on a hit-and-run play from first. The throw was like a missile, piercing the air as it arrived in Sandoval’s glove for the tag.
- The Red Sox went 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left three on base. The White Sox went 4-for-12 and left eight on base.
- Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz went 0-for-4 for the second night in a row, bringing his batting average to .260. Left fielder Hanley Ramirez matched him and raised him three strikeouts for a .252 average.
- Rutledge went 2-for-3 with a run scored, bringing his average to .297.
Miley threw 110 pitches, 71 of them for strikes, to impose 11 groundouts to two flyouts. He walked only one opposing batter while striking out three. Normally, that is a recipe for success for a starting pitcher; however, what’s missing is the 13 hits that he allowed, which the White Sox capitalized on in the seventh inning. They bled him for five earned runs in 6.2 innings, as Miley didn’t look like he had enough to get the final out. The blame should be shared with Hanigan for his passed ball and Lovullo for letting him overstay his welcome. It’s a tough call to make, when you want to support and show confidence in your veteran pitcher, but that’s why managers make good money. They have to know when the hook is needed.
They took care of their business, not allowing another run to cross the plate. They combined for one strikeout and two hits in 1.1 innings. Had the offense come through, we would have been talking about Ogando and Layne braving the pressure and helping the Red Sox pick up the victory.
Slim pickings. However, Betts went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored to lead the team in offense. Rutledge was a close second, being one RBI and one run short. When your lead-off batter is leading your offense, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When your second best hitter was in the nine-hole, inquiries must be made. The team combined for just eight hits, half of them by Betts and Rutledge, while striking out 11 times. Not even a sniff of a walk among them. The heart of the order looked more like a dry desert than a hitting oasis, making Miley’s seventh inning look like a hopeless abyss at any kind of a comeback.
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