On a night of multiple White Sox debuts and a day of transition across the franchise, an old standard played the boys off the field. Thrown out into a tie game in the 10th inning, Dylan Axelrod threw a meatball to Twins rookie Oswaldo Arcia that the young corner outfielder banished to the ferns in center field for a solo home run. It wasn’t immediately ballgame, but it was effectively ballgame, since shortly there afterward the Twins won the ballgame 3-2, sweeping the doubleheader and firmly placing the Sox back into their high-volume losing ways.
It was a predictable and annoying end of a game that it was hard to pay attention to the larger product of. Charlie Leesman was making his first major league start, Avisail Garcia was cutting through traffic on the I-90/94, and the dugout still smelled of Alex Rios‘ cologne.
Leesman was billed as lefty sinkerballer who relied mostly on his above-average fastball, worked in his change a bit, but fringey in every other aspect of the game. So naturally he strode to a major league mound for the first time in his life and tried to throw sliders to everyone in every count.
Perhaps Brian Dozier ripping Leesman’s second pitch of the game down the left field line for a double dissuaded him from pounding the zone in his first and possibly only chance to prove himself as a starter to the major league coaching staff. Or perhaps the first time he got Justin Morneau to wave over a curve, his mind was made up. The approach made for a wonky product.
Facing a stripped-down Twins lineup that was free of Joe Mauer until the end, Leesman missed bats with abandon, striking out six over his first three innings–all swinging–and racked up eight total on the evening. It also resulted in him whipping slurves all over the place, walking five, racking up 113 pitches in five-plus innings and floating a 3-2 breaking ball that backup catcher Chris Herrmann deposited in the right field seats in the fourth.
It was the only mistake Leesman paid for all night and it only cost him a run, so if his rough beginning of the night shook his confidence, he should put his head to his pillow tonight with it restored and flush.
Solo home runs were all either team gave anyone to look at all night. After Herrmann’s blast in the fourth inning, Alexei Ramirez answered with his second long ball of the day in the bottom half, a relative no-doubter to the left center seats that hardly merited chasing from the outfield. Alex Rios must have been sapping his life force for the last 18 months.
Blake Tekotte put the Sox up briefly and placed Ramon Troncoso in line for a win by tomahawking a Liam Hendriks changeup around the right field foul pole. It was Tekotte’s first home run of his career and first RBI with the franchise. Naturally, he got pinch-hit for before he could bat again (It was driven by platoon splits, don’t freak out).
The cognitive dissonance of Troncoso claiming the victory must have been burning Matt Lindstrom‘s ears, since he laid up a meaty fastball for Josh Willingham to hammer into the depths of the night that had descended on U.S. Cellular Field by the eighth inning. The Sox were lucky to leave the inning with a tie, since it required Gordon Beckham laying out to stop a grounder ticketed for right field off the bat of pinch-hitter Joe Mauer to preserve it.
The extra innings forced at least gave Avisail Garcia two plate appearances to work with after arriving at the park at 8 pm. He saw six pitches, struck out once, and the only delivery he didn’t take a cut on hit him in the left bicep. He also flashed some great speed by needlessly running to third with two outs in the bottom of the 10th. Now there is a fine demonstration of the split between tools and skills.
Team Record: 43-71
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