When the White Sox entered this season of “All In,” which of the following realities would you have thought was the most likely on June 1?
A.) Adam Dunn would be hitting .185 with just a handful of homers.
B.) Alex Rios would be a non-factor in the lineup and struggling to keep his batting average above .200.
C.) Phil Humber would be the ace of the White Sox starting staff with quality start after quality start and a 3.06 ERA.
I don’t think there’s any question that the most surprising individual development of 2011 is Humber. While we didn’t expect Dunn to be as bad as he’s been, we were well aware of his hit or miss persona. And while we expected Rios to duplicate his outstanding 2010 season, we saw how he struggled in 2009.
Humber, once a first-round draft choice projected to be a top of the rotation starter, seems to have finally arrived. He proved it again last night in the 10-7 Sox victory over Boston. For seven and two-third innings, he neutralized one of the most potent lineups in baseball. It was only David Ortiz‘s three-run bomb in the eighth off of Will Ohman with two inherited runners that brought Humber’s ERA over the 3.00 mark.
Sox Notes of Note: The Sox won their sixth straight at Fenway Park last night, led by Alexei Ramirez‘s four-hit, three RBI effort. The night before, he collected two hits and two RBI. He’s currently elevated his BA to .290…In addition to Humber’s performance, the most satisfying take away from the first two games in Boston is the clutch hitting, which has been consistently invisible the first two months of the season…During the three, three-city road trips since April 18, the Sox are 13-16 with only this afternoon’s game left on the grueling portion of this schedule.
Ozzie‘s recent mantra has been to take one day at a time. For a team trying to come back from the dead, I agree that it’s the way to go. I just wish I could walk the walk.
As the White Sox were in the process this weekend of completing a 5-2 homestand on the heels of of an encouraging 6-3 road trip, all I could think of was the upcoming 10-game road swing to Texas, Toronto and Boston.
As the Sox move toward the .500 mark with a 22-26 record, they are about to face a huge challenge while trying to continue their winning ways.
* The defending A.L. champion Rangers are formidable enough, but to make matters more difficult, Texas gets both last year’s MVP Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz back from injury just in time for the Pale Hose.
* Toronto has always been a tough place for us to play and among the issues to deal with up North will be neutralizing the outstanding Blue Jay pitching and home run machine Jose Bautista. Bautista, by the way, is also hitting .353 in addition to his major league-leading 18 homers.
* We all know that the Red Sox are the Red Sox–always tough–and Boston has the major league RBI leader in newly-acquired Adrian Gonzalez (41) plus top-flight pitching.
Sox Notes of Note: The Sox were able to win the rubber game of the Dodger series today on the strength of Alexei Ramirez‘s four hits, which included a two-run homer, and five RBI…Adam Dunn walked three times and had an RBI single while adding an eighth inning insurance run. WGN cameras caught him mouthing the words, “What was that?” after he got what amounted to his first hit of the series. At least he has a sense of humor…As a result of the Indians’ weekend sweep of the Reds, the South Siders remain nine games behind the Tribe.
The White Sox have surely kept me in blogging mode with all of the activity in the last few days:
Here’s a sobering thought.
When White Sox spring training begins in February, Mark Buehrle may very well be the lone survivor from the 2005 World
It’s certainly premature to
carve this scenario in stone, but with Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and
Freddy Garcia free agents and Bobby Jenks arbitration eligible, the popular lefthander from St.
Charles, Mo. could stand alone.
If you think about it, it’s
appropriate. Some may say Konerko would be the ideal “last man standing.” But
Paulie, as beloved as he is on the South Side with one more year in a Sox
uniform than Buehrle’s 11, lacks one thing–he’s not a home-grown White Sox.
While some Sox fans might be surprised because Paulie is so identified with the silver and black, Konerko grew up in the Dodger organization and played briefly for the Reds before coming to Chicago. Buehrle, on the other hand, was a 38th round pick for the Pale Hose in 1998 and has been with the organization ever since.
So, if Konerko, Pierzynski,
Jenks and Garcia go elsewhere in the next few months, only Buehrle will
represent the greatest year in Sox history on the active roster–and will do it
with a pretty impressive resume. Here are some of his career highlights,
already worthy of consideration for a likeness on the left field wall at the
Game against the Rays
against the Rangers
wins in a Sox uniform, an impressive 38 games over .500
Major-league record 45 consecutive batters retired
All-Star, winning pitcher for AL in 2005
ALDS victory, an ALCS win and a World Series save in 2005
consecutive seasons of 200-plus innings pitched, leading the league twice–also led league twice in games started
Gold Gloves, including this past season
Sox record (8) for Opening Day starts
the game’s best pickoff move
the Sox career leaders in wins, starts, innings pitched, winning percentage,
quality starts (1st) and strikeouts
And the above accomplishments
don’t factor in his leadership
abilities, ultra-competitiveness, team-first attitude, good humor and
Notes of Note: Rumors run rampant this time of year.
One is that the Sox are willing to listen to offers for Gordon Beckham (really?)…Another is that Jermaine Dye, after sitting out the entire 2010 season, wants to
play next season. Reports are that the Rockies, Phillies and Rays are
interested…Yet another is that Sox are exploring the possibility of signing
free agent closer Rafael Soriano,
who was so strong last season for the Rays. Another sign that Jenks may be a
goner…Finally, congratulations to Buehrle for his winning a 2010 Gold Glove and
Ramirez for his first Silver Slugger
award. Truth is, the Missle should have won a Gold Glove as well.