White Sox waste Dylan Axelrod’s gem in loss to A’s
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org May 31, 2013 11:56PM
Updated: July 2, 2013 8:11AM
OAKLAND, Calif. — Dylan Axelrod, the survivor who does more with less, couldn’t have done much more in his 11th and best start in a game that seemed to reach a new height of frustration for White Sox manager Robin Ventura.
Axelrod, the former Windy City Thunderbolt from the Independent League, stood toe-to-toe with Athletics veteran Bartolo Colon on Friday night, retiring 21 of 23 A’s before John Jaso and Josh Reddick finally got to him with back-to-back doubles to open the eighth inning, breaking a scoreless tie and sending the Sox to a 3-0 defeat.
The loss was the Sox’ fourth in a row after three against the Cubs and dropped them to four games below .500.
While giving a tip of the cap to the 40-year-old Colon (6-2), who handcuffed his team on five hits in a complete-game performance, Ventura had no defense for his team’s offense.
“It’s one of those where [Axelrod] felt like if he gives up one hit, he’s going to end up losing,’’ Ventura said. “We have to be better offensively. Right now we stink.’’
There was little blame for Axelrod (3-4), who lowered his ERA to 4.04 while watching his personal three-game winning streak halted. Axelrod allowed four hits in seven-plus innings, striking out a season-high seven and walking none.
“It’s tough,’’ Axelrod said. “[Colon is]. It seemed like both of us didn’t have much rest on the benches.’’
Coco Crisp’s two-run single in the eighth against Jesse Crain made it 3-0. One of those runs was charged to Axelrod, the other to Matt Thornton.
The Sox had five singles against Colon. Two preceded double plays, two were infield hits and one was a harmless two-out hit.
“It stinks,’’ Ventura said of his team’s offense that ranks last in runs. “It needs to get better. I don’t think it’s approach. When you go over offensive stuff and give them information, it’s sound stuff. It’s just a stretch that stinks.’’
Axelrod, who has been anything but odorous, takes issue with the notion that his stuff is just average.
“I feel like my stuff is pretty good, actually,’’ he said. “A lot of movement … I just don’t throw 95 [mph], so people say I don’t have good stuff. I’m not going to strike out 10 guys a game. I’m not going to be [Jeff] Samardzija. It’s a combination of knowing my strengths and how to attack hitters and not trying to be anybody I’m not.
“Being able to throw any pitch at any time is a big key. I feel like hitters can’t sit fastball on me at any time, really.’’
“He’s a command guy, not a guy who is going to be noticed for his velocity or any of his single pitches but for putting all of his pitches together,’’ pitching coach Don Cooper said. “His work ethic and preparation and game plan, it’s a nice package. And he can pitch. He can locate and change speeds.
“When he puts it together, he can execute any plan against any guy coming up. He can go soft, he can pitch in, he has a good cutter. All of it together is what makes him who he is.’’
Axelrod is the kind of pitcher, as Cooper puts it, who is “easy to root for.’’
“You can consider him the dark horse, the underdog,’’ Cooper said.
With no offense behind him, Axelrod was a huge underdog Friday.
“Wins and losses are a funny thing,’’ he said. “Baseball is tough.’’