Axelrod getting rocked obscures Phegley’s debut


Jul 5, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder

Kelly Johnson

(2) attempts to tag out Chicago White Sox catcher

Josh Phegley

(36) during the fifth inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Phegley coming up, mashing and throwing runners out with a vengeance would be a real shot in the arm for this moribund White Sox franchise. But as Dylan Axelrod proved Friday night, nothing impacts a game quite like a starting pitcher who cannot miss a bat.

After nine hits, five runs, two back-to-back moonshot home runs, one glove knocked off his hand by a line drive and just five outs recorded, Dylan Axelrod‘s day in Tampa was done, and so were the White Sox, for the most part. Five-run deficits in the second inning are a bit of a bear for teams that average less than four runs per game, and the Sox would eventually lose 8-3.

Josh Phegley wouldn’t make his debut until the Sox were already staring down that insurmountable deficit, and wouldn’t make an impact until the Sox were down 7-0. After a Gordon Beckham double with one out in the fifth, Phegley pushed a chopper through the hole on the right side of the infield for his first career hit and RBI. It was a nice break-up between being made to look awful on changeups by Jeremy Hellickson in his other two times facing the Rays starter. He added a sacrifice fly to center field during the White Sox ninth-inning mini-rally.

After Ramon Troncoso and David Purcey made relief appearances that explored the challenges of striking the exteriors of barns with thrown objects, Simon Castro made his major league debut as well. The first pitch of his career was lined to right for a leadoff single, and his fourth was lined up the middle for another, but Castro settled in and closed the game out with three shutout innings of work while striking out four–even if he took advantage of Jose Molina twice.

Castro’s velocity started to dwindle toward high-80’s late in the game. Take this outing, lop two innings off of it and you probably have a good idea for what his appearances are going to look like for the rest of his career. But just some confirmation that he might be a major leaguer was more interesting than the rest of this pitching tire fire. Dylan Axelrod had absolutely nothing. Ramon Troncoso and David Purcey are Quad-A guys at best.

After Casper Wells struck out to start the top of the ninth to give the Rays pitchers 10 strikeouts on the evening and all of their fans free pizza, the White Sox staged a goofy two-run rally–spearheaded by a pinch-hit from Dayan Viciedo, climaxed with an RBI bloop single off Evan Longoria‘s glove by Beckham and capped off by Phegley’s bases loaded sacrifice fly.

Alexei Ramirez‘s streak of playing every inning this season ended when he was subbed out in the seventh. Brent Morel took Jeff Keppinger‘s spot, who swung over to second and pushed Gordon Beckham to short. There were no incidents.

Team Record: 34-49

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