First things first: That was bad. Really bad. Reynaldo Lopez is booty, and the White Sox, though a near-.500 team at the All-Star break, had lost seven in a row, as the regression monster came in hot for their poor first-half run differential.
It felt even worse coming off those final three games in New York. The eighth-inning implosion on Tuesday followed by the double-header sweep on Thursday.
We were out of New York; we thought we were safe.
But alas, baseball doesn’t work that way.
The White Sox got ahead in the first inning, thanks to some shoddy defense—a trend that reared its ugly head time and time again on Friday—but the Rays had a nice response. Austin Meadows made up for his first inning mishap with a leadoff triple, eventually coming around on a Ji-Man Choi single, 1-1.
But it just wasn’t the night for Brendan McKay and the Rays. McKay, who had come into the game having never given up more than three runs in a start—and had actually blanked two of his three opponents—struggled again in the second, allowing three more runs, all coming with two outs this time.
Again, the Rays scored in the second—this was Reynaldo Lopez after all—with some two-out magic of their own: Joey Wendle and Mike Brosseau rocking back-to-back doubles, 4-2.
But McKay never even made it out of the fourth, allowing a career-high five runs, and the White Sox went up 8-2 by the end of the fifth.
The rest of the game really doesn’t need recapping, it more needs reacting. (For the official record, yes, the final score was 9-2, if you want a standard recap, I suppose there’s always ESPN for that?)
As noted at the start of this recap, this could easily be a game to despair over. The Rays now sit outside the second Wild Card spot, an option that looked like it would be theirs for the hosting most of the season. They looked awful, and they are putting more and more pressure on a very young and relatively inexperienced squad.
This was the trappiest of trap games. The Rays got into Tampa at 3:30 in the morning the day after a doubleheader. I mean, c’mon. Not to put everything I write into a gambling light, but the sharps had to be just licking their chops looking at that travel schedule, versus a White Sox team that got into the area, fully rested, some seven hours earlier.
We’ve covered how favorable the Rays schedule is down the stretch here, and just a friendly reminder: We play those fuckers from the Bronx only twice more this season. Against the Yankees this year, the Rays are 5-12; against everyone else: 51-32.
We get seven more against Baltimore and 13 (thirteen!) more against a nearly-as-pitiful Toronto.
I’m not the type to excuse poor performances from the Rays. In fact, I tend to be a bit reactionary and hold their feet to the fire a bit more than I should, if I’m being completely honest.
But tonight, honestly, doesn’t have me as worried. Yes, it was ugly. Yes, our rookie pitcher had his worst outing. Yes, it was backed by some heinous defense that highlighted a few spots that are legitimate weaknesses (hello, corner outfield defense).
But I don’t know. I don’t find myself as worried. Call it naivety. Call it a couple Blue Moons. Call it whatever you will. I didn’t like tonight, but I think we’ll be fine. Baseball is going to Baseball, and tonight was Exhibit A (or maybe Exhibit F...).
All that said, if we lose tomorrow, I’m burning this place to the ground.