In a typical good Dylan Axelrod start (if there’s any thing typical about it) he skirts through the batting order once, accumulating outs in a non-descript manner and floating into the third or fourth before anyone has time to do a double take at the sight of Dylan Axelrod retiring major league hitters. Multiple trips through the batting order can give the effect of Wile E. Coyote looking down, but there’s enough forward momentum to get him into the sixth inning. Hopefully the Sox score 18 runs and make all the decisions easier.
This–Thursday night in Washington–was not a good Dylan Axelrod start (3.2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 2K). This was a night where it was readily apparent that the Sox were trying to sneak in a fill-in from the second batter on, and failed to the tune of a 7-4 pounding at the hands of the Nationals. Axelrod lacked the command to earn chases on his sliders away, which raised a spotlight on his nibbling and spent far too much time working up in the zone with his 88 mph heat to avoid punishment.
His pitch account ballooned to 40 after one inning, was nearly to 100 by the middle of the fourth when he needed one good pitch to Ryan Zimmerman to keep the deficit at 4-3. Instead, Axelrod floated a flat breaking ball up in the zone that Zimmerman laced into right-field to score Jayson Werth, and the intentionally walked Bryce Harper, making it 6-3 Nats.
It was the last significant hit of a game.
Dan Haren is still a scary name, but had few traces of his 2011 form Thursday. The White Sox pushed a runner to second base in every one of Haren’s five innings, but went a rousing 2-10 in those opportunities against Haren. After Conor Gillaspie (2-4, 2B, R, K) doubled Paul Konerko (2-4, R, K) over to third base in the second inning, only a Tyler Flowers (0-4, RBI, K) groundout was employed to drive a run home. When Alex Rios (2-4, 2 2B, BB, K) followed up a Jeff Keppinger (2-5, RBI) single by doubling him to third base, they were both stranded by strikeouts from Adam Dunn (1-5, 2B, RBI, K) and Alexei Ramirez (1-5, 2B, 2K).
“Timely hitting” is a phrase that’s beaten to death during every win that features less than five home runs, but it’s safe to conclude it was absent in a contest where the Sox were held to four runs on 13 hits. Even the fun of Adam Dunn’s sixth inning opposite field RBI double off the wall was sapped when Ryan Matheus froze Paul Konerko with a 3-2 slider to strand Alex Rios at third along with Dunn.
Really, the problem is that Dunn’s double didn’t clear the wall. A dinger removes the need for all this silly clutch-hitting and without the warm embrace of these sweet moonshots the White Sox are enveloped in sadness when they cannot escape. They will leave Washington having not received a single quality start and with a losing record.
Team Record: 4-5
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