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April 11: Washington Nationals 7, Chicago White Sox 4

The Washington Nationals completed the sweep of our beloved White Sox Thursday night when they defeated the Pale Hose 7-4. The Sox are now 4-5 as they head back to American League play where they'll face the Indians and Blue Jays in two more road series.

AXELROD’S ROUGH OUTING

It wasn’t a good start for Dylan Axelrod, and in all honesty, he’s lucky it wasn’t worse than it ended up being. He was not efficient from a pitch count standpoint (40 through one inning and 100 through not even four innings), and he got countless pitches up in the zone.

People are going to blame Robin for leaving Axelrod in too long, but as a manager, you have to be able to expect your starter to get you through four innings. I can’t get myself to put any blame on Robin Ventura for this one. You have to do your job and be more efficient than Dylan was out there tonight.

I’ve always said that I think Dylan Axelrod would be OK as a fifth starter for this team, but he has got to keep the ball down in the zone. Since Axelrod doesn’t have “make you miss” stuff and doesn’t have an out pitch, this is critically important to him.

He cannot miss his spots as often as guys like Chris Sale and Jake Peavy. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a good pitcher (see guys like Mark Buehrle), but it does mean he has got to make sure he gets everything down. If he doesn’t, he’s going to have nights like this often.


DOWN, BUT NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT

There aren’t many positives to take away from a sweep, but one of them is the way this offense hit when it was trailing. After Washington was able to score some runs, the Sox made the Nats’ pitchers work and got some runs across the plate themselves an inning or two later. Guys like Alex Rios (man, what a start he’s had), Jeff Keppinger and Alejandro De Aza just made Washington’s pitchers work this series.

With all of that said, however, this team just could not get that one big, game-changing hit to take the lead back: tonight and all series long.


NATIONALS BULLPEN

A lot of things this series impressed me about the Nationals (man, they are gritty up there at the plate). Tonight, it was that bullpen that impressed me the most. Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Clippard, and Rafael Soriano is a pretty powerful threesome to close a game out with, and we didn’t even see Drew Storen tonight. That’s  unit that is going to be making it hard on teams all season.


ON TO CLEVELAND

It sucks to get swept, but at least it’s early in the season and this was an interleague series. The two series that we’d rather see the Sox dominate in on this road trip are Cleveland and Toronto, and the Sox have a chance to put this behind them now with seven games left before returning home.

It will be Jose Quintana against Justin Masterson tomorrow. It’s a pretty simple formula for both guys. Like Axelrod, they both must keep it down in the zone. Whichever pitcher does that better probably wins the ballgame.


Box Scores via USA Today Online

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