Chicago White Sox: Ryan Zimmerman

Axelrod burned by Nats' patient approach

April, 11, 2013
4/11/13
11:21
PM CT
By Jeff Seidel
Special to ESPN Chicago
Archive
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals have a lineup that doesn’t mind taking pitches or fouling them off. They want to make a pitcher work early in the game in order to wear him out later.

That’s just what happened to Chicago White Sox right-hander Dylan Axelrod Thursday night. Washington’s patience forced Axelrod to throw 103 pitches in just 3⅔ innings as the Nationals completed a three-game sweep of the Sox with a 7-4 victory at Nationals Park.

Axelrod’s problems began in the first inning. The Nationals scored just one run on two hits, but the right-hander needed to throw 40 pitches just to get out of that inning after Washington fouled off pitch after pitch.

“That’s not the way you want to start: 40 pitches in the first inning,” Axelrod said. “I guess I could have done a better job of challenging early. They made me work.”

Yes, they did. And that set the stage for other problems afterward. Axelrod (0-1) retired the Nats in order in the second, but Washington wore him down the second and third times through the order.

The Nationals kept staying patient and working deep into counts. That’s why they manufactured runs off of Axelrod. There were walks, stolen bases, a sacrifice fly, a double from Washington starter Dan Haren -- who scored the go-ahead run on an Axelrod wild pitch in the fourth -- and the back-breaker, a two-run double from Ryan Zimmerman in that inning, which gave the Nats a 6-3 lead and ended Axelrod’s night.

“They make it extremely hard,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. “Every time you go around, it gets a little harder, so [he] wasn’t able to get through that one. This is a tough team.”

Axelrod made some good pitches in different spots but ended up allowing six runs on seven hits in those 3⅔ long innings, which took nearly two hours to play. He also walked four and struck out two as the Nationals kept pushing.

“I felt all right [after the first inning], but obviously, you know, the more pitches you throw, your stuff just isn’t the same, just doesn’t have that zip on it," Axelrod said. "They're an aggressive team … they got deep into counts and made me work real hard."

Rapid Reaction: Nationals 7, White Sox 4

April, 11, 2013
4/11/13
10:07
PM CT
By Jeff Seidel
Special to ESPN Chicago
Archive

WASHINGTON -- Washington Nationals starter Dan Haren scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch and Ryan Zimmerman added a two-run double moments later as Washington completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox with a 7-4 victory Thursday night.

How it happened: The Nationals kept getting key hits at the right time; the White Sox didn’t. Washington scored twice in the third for a 3-1 lead before Chicago’s Alejandro De Aza and Jeff Keppinger got back-to-back RBI singles in the fourth to tie the game. But Washington took over in the bottom half as Haren got a double and later scored on starter Dylan Axelrod's wild pitch to give the Nats a 4-3 lead. Zimmerman lined a two-run double to right later in the inning to go up 6-3. Adam Dunn collected an RBI double in the sixth for the Sox -- a ball that hit about halfway up the left-field wall, coming close to being a game-tying three-run homer.

What it means: It was a night of wasted chances. The White Sox finished with 13 hits, 10 of which came in the first five innings off Haren, who still got the win. Chicago missed on numerous scoring opportunities, finishing just 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position. The White Sox also left 11 on base.

Outside the box: Hector Santiago made just his third appearance of the season but pitched well again. After Axelrod gave up six runs in 3⅔ innings, Santiago blanked the Nationals for 2⅓ innings. That not only kept the Sox in the game, but it extended his scoreless streak to 13⅓ innings dating back to Oct. 1.

Off beat: Numbers tell the story of Axelrod’s long night. He needed 103 pitches to get through 3⅔ innings, giving up six runs on seven hits and taking the loss. There were 40 pitches in the first inning alone, plus four walks. Along with a wild pitch that brought in the go-ahead run in the fourth. Some good news -- Axelrod got his first major league hit. First baseman Adam LaRoche tried to make a diving catch of the pitcher’s sacrifice bunt in fourth but couldn’t quite do it and nobody else could make a play.

Up next: After the interleague series in Washington, the White Sox return to American League competition Friday in Cleveland when Jose Quintana (0-0, 11.25 ERA) takes on Justin Masterson (2-0, 0.69) in the series opener.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.17 208 174
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .317
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208