You all know the old tale by now. We knew this would happen. We could see it coming a mile away. A 29 year old soft-tosser making his major league debut after 8 seasons (107) starts in the minors? Uh oh. But wait. This one's a righty! Maybe it will be different this time! Maybe there's a chance!
There was no chance.
Scott Carroll carved up the Rays bats for seven and a third while David Price and the defense made sure the game stayed comfortably out of reach. Let's go back and relive it.
The first couple of innings were fairly uneventful. 3 up and 3 down for both squads in both frames. Scott Carroll relied primarily on an 89-91 mph sinker with an occasional slurvy breaking ball thrown in here and there. Price looked solid early. He fed the Sox a steady diet of 91-92 mph fastballs, then went to his mid 80's cutter to strike out Konerko swinging. Matt Joyce also made a dandy little running catch on an Alexei Ramirez fly out to end the 2nd.
In the 3rd, David DeJesus surprisingly broke up Carroll's near certain perfecto with a walk, but was quickly erased by a Yunel Escobar 6-4-3 double play ground out. Jose Molina did get the Rays first hit, but barely got comfortable on first before Ben Zobrist grounded out to end the inning.
Price started off the bottom of the 3rd with a sweet little 77 mph curve to Alejandro De Aza that looked like it would land in his hip pocket before it dove in for a called strike. Yum. A couple of pitches later, however, De Aza deposited a Price cutter into center field for a single and the White Sox first hit. Price recovered to K Tyler Flowers looking on 3 pitches. Set him up with some outside fastballs before locking him up with one right down the middle. Gordon Beckham hit into a fielder's choice to Loney to get De Aza at second base. In what would be a precursor for much worse things to come, Adam Eaton knocked a bouncer up the middle to Escobar. With Beckham running on contact, Yunel tried a quick flip to Zobrist but Ben couldn't handle it. An error was initially charged to Escobar, but it was immediately changed to a base hit. Luckily, Price ended the threat by striking out Marcus Semien.
In the 4th, the Rays had a little something going before they shot themselves in the foot again. After a Desmond Jennings groundout, Joyce slapped a base hit to 3rd on the shifted defense. Unfortunately, Evan Longoria grounded into a double play on the very first pitch to end the inning and the opportunity.
In the bottom of the inning, the wind kept a Jose Abreu fly ball in the park, Dayan Viciedo struck out looking on a fastball that just nipped the outside corner, and Longo made a terrific diving catch on a Konerko liner to third. Dude's got some range.
In the 5th, the Rays finally got on the board under some bizarre circumstances. After a Wil Myers fly out, and a DeJesus single to right, Yunel Escobar hit an easy fly ball to right field that somehow bounced off Dayan Viciedo's glove (Or did it? It was tough to tell on the replay). The strange part was that after the ball deflected away, Viciedo just kept jogging. Made no effort to recover the ball whatsoever. A befuddled combo of Gordon Beckham and Adam Eaton had to multi-task, giving Viciedo the stink eye while chasing down the ball. By the time that happened, DeJesus had scored and Yunel was standing on second base. We take them however we can get them these days. The Rays were on the board 1-0!
In the bottom of the 5th, Alexei Ramirez hit a bullet to center field that Desmond Jennings somehow managed to catch in spectacular fashion. All Alexei could do was shake his head in disbelief and laugh. Me too, Alexei. Me too.
The Rays had more chances in the 6th. Zobrist hit a hard liner to right that he tried to stretch into a double. Unfortunately, Dayan Viciedo remained in the game and had some making up to do for his earlier mistake as he gunned down Zobrist at second with a great throw. Take note, Matt Williams. With 1 out, Carroll hit Jennings with a pitch and walked Matt Joyce. 2 on, 1 out and in steps Evan Longoria. Who, again, immediately grounded into another double play. Inning and opportunity over. Again.
The Rays came into today's game with an MLB-low 7 errors on the season. They had gone 7 straight games without an error. THE RAYS MADE 4 ERRORS IN THE BOTTOM OF THE 6TH INNING. Someone cue the circus music:
- Ben Zobrist kicked off the show with an error that allowed Gordon Beckham to reach base. Adam Eaton then singled on a grounder that Yunel was lucky to even get a glove on to knock down. 2 on, no outs.
- Semien showed bunt, then did bunt. Price charged the ball, turned to fire to first and LAUNCHED the ball into the outfield. Noted rocket scientist Wil Myers trotted over but bobbled the ball repeatedly while picking it up then seemed to stand there holding on to the ball until 2 runs scored. Jose Abreu then took a Price meatball on a ride to the bleachers. 4-1 White Sox.
- Just when the bases were clear again, Viciedo knocked a stand up double to left. Alexei Ramirez hit an easy grounder to shortstop, but Escobar gunned his throw way above a leaping Loney's head for yet another error and another run. 5-1 White Sox. We laughed at Viciedo for his antics, but this was so much worse. Price refused to let his defense let him down any longer. Fielding a De Aza grounder himself and striking out Tyler Flowers to end the frame.
Scott Carroll made quick work of the Rays in the top of the 7th. In the bottom of the inning, Price came back out already at 90 pitches on the day. He walked Gordon Beckham, who then stole second. Adam Eaton fought off an inside pitch into a pop up. Three Rays defenders gave chase, but it managed to drop in. 102 pitches now. Men on 1st and 3rd with nobody out. Price then inexplicably grooved a meatball over the plate that Simien took on a ride to center field for a double that scored Eaton. This would be the end for Price, as he would be pulled before even recording an out in the 7th. On his way out, Price appeared to have some heated words for the home plate umpire, who was clearly at fault for the defensive shenanigans an inning prior.
We had a great baseball story today in Scott Carroll. Then there is Josh Lueke, who stepped in to replace David Price in the 7th. Joe Maddon's human white flag of surrender immediately gave up a single to Jose Abreu (who had 4 RBI's on the day and apparently broke Albert Pujols' April rookie RBI record). 8-1 White Sox.
Josh Lueke has now allowed 8 of 9 inherited runners to score so far this season. I may need to brush up on my definition of an effective major league baseball pitcher, but I feel pretty confident that I am not describing one of those right now. I am completely comfortable saying that Josh Lueke is my least favorite person to ever step onto a mound wearing my favorite team's jersey, and it is beyond my abilities to wrap my head around any reason that he continues to be on this big league club or in the organization at all. This guy needs to be gone. And he needs to be gone now.
At this point, 9-1 White Sox, I essentially turned most of my attention from this travesty to the amazingness that the Clippers players were doing during warm ups on ABC. I did, however, get to see Scott Carroll depart after 7 1/3 to a HUGE ovation from the South Side crowd. A cool moment for a guy who must feel like he's walking on air right now. As he tipped his cap in appreciation, I couldn't help but think about how long he's worked for this. At 29, how many times he probably almost gave up on his dream.How fitting that his big debut would be against these Rays who tend to accelerate any pitching rags to riches story. Maybe Scott Carroll ends up being something, and we saw the beginning today. More likely, he'll be rocked every other start from here on out and we'll wonder even more than we already do about this Rays offense and how this keeps happening.
Between Price's ineffectiveness, the mind-numbing defensive miscues, Josh Lueke being Josh Lueke and the quiet Rays bats against a career minor leaguer, there weren't too many positives today. Not too many at all.
One more in Chicago tomorrow before we continue on to the armpit of America to play the Red Sox.
Onward we go. Hang in there.