Saturday, April 2, 2011

April 2: White Sox 8, Indians 3

Behind another impressive offensive performance, the Sox pushed their record to 2-0 for the 1st time since 2005 (COINCIDENCE?!?). Edwin Jackson was fine in 5 of the 6 innings he tossed and big games by Gordon Beckham and Carlos Quentin paced the Sox to 8 runs. The Sox again put the Indians in an early hole, pushing their win probability over 90% very early for the 2nd straight game, and while this Indian comeback actually had some teeth, in the end, the Tribe barely had more than a 33% chance to pull off the comeback.

Sox MVP: Edwin Jackson just nudged out Gordon Beckham in WPA this afternoon, .114 to .112 respectively. Beckham's games was fueled by one at bat, his 2-run double in the the 2nd the opened up a 2-0 to 4-0 and, in retrospect, gave the Sox all the runs they needed for the W today. Other than that, Gordon's day was relatively quiet, a single in the 1st inning here, a strike out there, a walk there. Jackson was solid, throwing 6 strong innings in his 2011 debut, allowing 3 runs, though 1 was unearned, but walking 4 and laboring through the 2nd inning.

Today's game seemed to be a pretty standard Edwin Jackson game. When he's on, he can be brilliant, but his lapses in command have always held him back from being an elite pitcher.

That is the 1st inning at bat for Michael Brantley, who struck out swinging on a devastating 84 MPH slider down and in. Set up by a pair of mid-90s fastballs called for strikes, Brantley meekly flailed at the off-speed stuff that had a nearly 10 MPH drop off from the heaters. For the entire game, Jackson's 2- and 4-seem fastballs averaged 92-93 MPH while the changeup and slider were down around 84-85 MPH.

Here's Brantley's at bat in the 2nd inning. This is Jackson at his very worst. Already panicking because the Tribe had scored 3 runs, with his defense failing behind him, he relied solely on his fastball and frankly could not find the plate. This is the challenge for Don Cooper and the Sox. Maximize his effectiveness and limit the wildness.

Sox LVP: For the 2nd straight game, Alex Rios draws the collar, 0-4 and a -.047 WPA, although at least 2 of his outs were well hit, the flyout to end the 1st traveled about 345 feet where the wall is 348 feet deep and probably would have left the yard if the wind had been blowing right to left instead. The line drive to end the 2nd was just an excellent defensive play by Jack Hannahan. If this seems familiar, it is, Rios started last year in the same funk, .174/.269/.391 through the 1st week of the year but only a .167 BAbip. No worries.

Indians MVP & LVP: Jack Hannahan posted a .061 WPA, best on the team, even though he only had 1 hit in 4 at bats, but it was a good one, driving in 2 of the Tribe's 3 runs. Carlos Carrasco's 6.2 innings of 7-run baseball earned him a -.280 WPA, by far the worst for the Tribe.

Looking Ahead: The Sox go for the sweep, John Danks takes the mound against Justin Masterson. The national sports media is taking note, Sox fans.


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