White Sox Battle but Umpire Trouble Gets the Best of Them in Loss
By Matt Adams
Dylan Axelrod was called upon to make a start on short rest to allow Chris Sale to skip a start going into the All-Star break. He wasn’t up to the task. The first four batters he faced came around to score via two walks and two homeruns. It set it up so that he could at least improve from there, but not by much. Axelrod would only last 3 innings, giving up 7 runs and setting up a wild game that would ultimately see him earn the loss.
Blue Jays (43-43): 11
White Sox (47-38): 9
The White Sox would make a game of it, the first two surges coming courtesy of Alex Rios who lined a 3 run HR in the first and an RBI double in the four run Sox 5th. Rios went 3-5 on the day with 4 RBI. Alexei Ramirez tripled home a pair of runs in that 5th frame and the Sox cut what was an 8-3 lead to an 8-7.
In the top of the 6th inning Septimo came in having inherited Rajai Davis as a baserunner, who was walked by Brian Omogrosso. Septimo paid no mind to Davis as he stole second, less mind to him when he stole third, and while in the process of walking Colby Rasmus, threw a ball past Flowers that brought Davis in to score. Nate Jones entered to face Jose Bautista and he lined a ball over the bag at third that was interfered with by a stadium security guard and was ruled a ground rule double. The replays were not definitive on if the ball was fair or foul in the first place, but to add insult to injury, Rasmus was awarded home despite being on first for the at-bat. When the interference occurred, Rasmus had just rounded second, leading one to believe a play at the plate would have been imminent had the ball’s path not been interrupted. One more run would be notched in the inning stretching the Jays’ lead back to 4.
As close as this game was in the end, it’s hard not to look at the poor strike calling of home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn. Strike calls in White Sox offensive innings ranged well outside of the plate while not being consistently made on the other side. Blue Jays pitchers wisely kept pounding the mark a couple inches out, forcing Sox hitters to protect and racked up quite a few strikeouts using this process. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so many strikes called on pitches that clearly had none of the plate. After a particularly poorly called bottom of the 8th that squashed another potential rally, Robin Ventura had seen enough. As Jeff Mathis took a
strike ball that crossed the plate above the knees in the top of the 9th, Robin came storming out of the dugout and let Reyburn know how he felt. I’m not sure anybody has ever seen Robin that hot, certainly not Reyburn, who tossed the skipper from the game.
A 9th inning rally did occur, but fell short of the mark and that frame, at least, didn’t seem to need any help from the umpiring crew to push it in the Blue Jays’ favor.
Plus: More clawing for the Sox. For every run that Toronto put on the board the White Sox worked to keep the game close. Unfortunately more than a couple of attempted comebacks fell victim to faulty umpiring and they never scratched their way to a victory.
Minus: It’s getting to be difficult to watch Tyler Flowers with a bat in his hand. His average dropped to .164 on Sunday afternoon as he was the only Sox starter not to reach base, and he never seemed too interested in getting there. A couple of helpless looking strikeouts summed up his day before being pulled for A.J. to enter the game in the 7th. Options aren’t there and the pitching help is more urgent as far as trade acquisitions, so Tyler is going to either have to figure out how to get hot or A.J. Pierzynski is going to be a very tired man.