Just take a look at the picture above. It pretty much represents all you need to know about the White Sox’s impressive 7-6 come-from-behind win over the Orioles, their fourth consecutive victory.
–At the far left, there’s A.J. Pierzynski, who went 2 for 3 with three RBIs, including his sixth home run. He also made as good a catch on a foul pop as you’re ever going to see to record the second out of the eighth inning with men on first and second. Matt Thornton then came on to get the third out to thwart the Baltimore rally.
–Next to him is Alex Rios, whose two-out RBI single in the eighth (following an A.J. sac fly), broke a 6-6 tie after a three-run J.J. Hardy blast put the O’s ahead. It has to be said that Rios has been a different player the past three games after being benched in the opener in Minnesota for his less-than-spectacular offense. He has seven hits in the past three contests.
–At the far right of the photo is Gordon Beckham, whose two-run homer in the second provided the Sox with an early 4-0 lead.
–Right behind Beckham is Sergio Santos, who recorded his 23th save by striking out the side in the ninth. It was also his 28th straight scoreless appearance on the road. Not bad for a converted infielder.
–In the “who doesn’t belong and why” category, Brent Morel is also in the frame. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of his best nights. He went 0 for 4 and if it weren’t for the Sox rally he could have been the goat. He was charged with a missed catch error at third base in the seventh that put runners on first and third. One out later Hardy put the Orioles ahead.
It actually happened. The White Sox swept a series from the Twins and at Target Field to boot.
Who would have thought this was possible after how the South Siders performed in the first eight games (1-7) this season against Minnesota and how they spit the bit against the Red Sox and Yankees?
Today was a day that the pitching, hitting and finally defense clicked harmoniously in the 7-0 whitewash. Jake Peavy pitched eight masterful innings of shutout ball, allowing only three hits while striking out six and walking no one. The Sox clubbed four homers–solo clouts by Brent Lillibridge, Paul Konerko and Alex Rios and a two-run shot by Alexei Ramirez. And the defense was flawless in the field, with an exceptional performance by Lillibridge who started his first major league game at first base.
After six losses in a row, it’s now three straight wins heading into a four-game series in Baltimore. Another bit of good news: the Sox chopped a game off of the Tigers’ division lead and trail Detroit by 5 1/2 games.
Sox Note of Note: A special tip of the cap to Rios (pictured above), who collected five hits in the last two games–hopefully a sign of things to come.
Bizarro World is when up is down, left is right and all things are opposite of the norm. Consider the Friday and Saturday White Sox-Twins games at Target Field as a case in point.
After years of being dominated by the Twinkies and entering this series 1-7 against them this season, the tables turned. It was the Sox, not the Twinkies, who had the outstanding pitching, clutch hitting, sound defense and daring play on the basepaths in the two games. And it was Minnesota which took the role of past Sox teams with less-than-stellar play. Most importantly, the South Siders came out on the winning side of the ledger, 5-3 and 6-1, and already have chalked up a rare series win against their division rivals.
The big story of last night was righty Zach Stewart, who was acquired by the Sox from Toronto in the Edwin Jackson trade. He was aggressive all night and credited with career victory No. 1 in his first Sox appearance as he pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball. Also up to the challenge were Chris Sale, Jason Frasor and Sergio Santos who shut the door after Stewart’s exit.
In the eighth, with Michael Cuddyer on third and no outs, Sale retired Jason Kubel and Jim Thome before Frasor struck out Danny Valencia to end the inning with the tying run on third. Santos pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
Sox Notes of Note: No one example can back up the Bizarro World scenario more than this: Joe Nathan, for years a closer the Sox couldn’t touch, gave up a two-run homer to Brent Lillibridge in the four-run Sox ninth…Alex Rios collected three hits while his buddy Adam Dunn struck out three more times…Despite the two victories the Sox remained at 6 1/2 games behind the Tigers, who have beaten the Royals on back-to-back nights.
For anyone who wants to understand the White Sox struggles through the club’s first 106 games just has to look at the last three innings of today’s disappointing 5-3 loss to the Red Sox. It serves as a microcosm of the team’s failure to be better than their 52-54 record.
7th Inning: The Sox lost their 3-2 lead (wasting another Mark Buehrle effort) , largely due to a deflected infield hit and a Tyler Flowers passed ball that moved the tying and winning runs into second and third. The two runners scored on a Dustin Pedroia base hit.
8th Inning: With two outs and Alexei Ramirez on second with his 22nd double, Juan Pierre failed to drive in the tying run. It is important to note that Pierre was hitting in the third spot only because he replaced Paul Konerko, removed from the game after being hit by a pitch.
9th Inning: Now down 5-3, the Sox had three of their supposed big bats in position to give it a shot. But they went down with a whimper as Carlos Quentin, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios all went down swinging. The problem, as we all know, is that Dunn and Rios are far from being big bats, despite the preseason expectations and the back of their baseball cards. They haven’t done it in the first four months and there’s no reason to believe things are going to change.
If Dunn and Rios continue their woeful offense and continue to fail when it counts, there’s no reason to believe the Sox are any better than a .500 team let alone a division contender.
Bad Timing?: With two losses in a row, the Sox find themselves in a tough situation with the Yankees coming in for four games. To make matters worse, C.C. Sabathia is on the mound in Game 1 tomorrow night.
The Frank Thomas Statue Was Unveiled Before Today’s Game
Rejoice White Sox fans, we’re back at .500 and seemingly on a roll after a nice, efficient 3-1 victory last night against the Red Sox.
Suddenly, things seem a lot bright brighter than they did a few days ago. Whether it’s the series victory over the Tigers, the emotional impact of the Edwin Jackson trade, the continued outstanding pitching, the callup of Alejandro De Aza and benching of Alex Rios or all the above, much more optimism is evident throughout White Sox Nation.
Certainly one of the biggest recent boosts has been the resurgence of Gavin Floyd, who lately has been lights out. In seven innings of work against Boston last evening he gave up a lone run (a homer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia) on three hits with five strikeouts and in the process evened his record to 9-9. The offense, which is still not where it should be, provided just enough, highlighted by A.J. Pierzynski‘s two-run, seventh inning home run.
Three games back of Detroit and just a half-game behind second place Cleveland, it seems the Sox are going to make a serious run. But before I get too crazy, we still have two more games against the Red Sox, four vs. the Yankees and three in Minnesota. And who knows what trades are going to be made in the next two days that will impact the club.
I guess all that will take care itself. But, for now, like the Sox I’m back in the game.
Quite a day on the South Side. Here are some of the highlights:
–The 2-1 victory over the Tigers, giving the Sox their second straight series win over Detroit and enabling them to move within 3 1/2 games of the division leaders.
—Alejandro De Aza (above), just up from Charlotte, hit his first major league home run, which proved to be the difference in today’s triumph.
–De Aza’s promotion has moved Alex Rios to the bench, a smart move considering the latter’s disastrous season both at the plate and in the field.
—John Danks was outstanding today, giving up only a run and six hits in six innings along with 10 strikeouts. Most impressive was the fact he got out of jam after jam against the tough Tiger lineup.
–The Trade: Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to the Jays for reliever Jason Frasor and minor league pitcher Zach Stewart. The fact that Jackson will be a free agent at the end of the season made his departure an obvious move. Teahen is addition by subtraction. And Frasor, a Chicagoan who has always been tough on his hometown/new team, will be a big help in the pen.
For the record, Jackson was quickly dealt from the Jays to the Cardinals for centerfielder Colby Rasmus, who was rumored to coveted by the Sox. Counting Toronto, who Jackson never played for, St. Louis is Jackson’s seventh team–Dodgers, Rays, Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Blue Jays, Cardinals–in his nine big league campaigns.
–Extra! Extra! Adam Dunn didn’t strike out today and had a hit and three walks. A cause for celebration.
–The bullpen has been extraordinary most of the season. This afternoon was no exception as Chris Sale and Sergio Santos (21st save) preserved the Danks win, coming in for three frames of perfect relief. Sale did most of the heavy lifting in his 2 2/3 innings of work as Santos retired one batter–Brennan Boesch, who made the final out.
Sox Note of Note: Apart from the Jackson deal, rumors are flying that other moves are on the way as the Sox try to cut some payroll. Could Matt Thornton, Juan Pierre, Carlos Quentin or even Danks and Gavin Floyd be next?
One thing is becoming pretty clear to all of us, despite our hopes to the contrary. If the White Sox are to win the A.L. Central and make their first postseason appearance since 2008, they are going to have to do it without major contributions from Adam Dunn and Alex Rios.
We have been thinking things will change, but it’s July 19 and nada.
The disappointing duo, once counted on to be at the heart of the Sox offense, show no signs of significant improvement. If you think about it, it’s pretty impressive that we’re only two games under .500 and 4 1/2 from the division lead without these two being major factors.
As well-chronicled here and elsewhere, Dunn has been and continues to be an absolute failure. He’s on his way to setting the all-time single-season strikeout mark and is threatening to record the lowest qualifying batting average in the last 91 years. He’s now at .158.
Rios is simply lost. It’s apparent he’s confused at the plate and his nonchalant attitude gives the impression he’s not trying. It’s painful to watch his struggles. He’s now at .208 and headed for Dunn territory.
Last night, as has been the case so many times before, the Sox were victorious despite Dunn and Rios. Between them they were 0 for 7 with four strikeouts (two apiece).
Things certainly can change, but right now the conventional wisdom is that any hope of October baseball is going to be accomplished with Nos. 32 and 51.