Art Berke, a lifelong White Sox fan, has worked at the highest levels of the sports industry with Major League Baseball, ABC Television and Sports Illustrated. He grew up in Northwest Indiana, in the shadow of old Comiskey Park, and proudly proclaims 2005 as the best year of his life. Art offers his glass half-full opinions and observations as he lives and dies with the Sox.
Three homers (Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, Andruw Jones), 12 hits, four doubles (two each by Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham) and a Gavin Floyd gem later, the White Sox walked away with an 11-0 thumping of the Mariners tonight at the Cell.
It was the ninth straight home victory for the South Siders and 16 of the last 17. The win, combined with the Twins’ victory over the Royals, keeps the Sox lead in the A.L. Central at one game.
Floyd continued his sparkling pitching run with seven innings of shutout ball. In his last 10 starts he has compiled an impressive 1.04 ERA and hasn’t given up more than two earned runs in a game in almost two months.
The one thing that stands out to me more than anything else–including what Floyd has
done–is the recent play, both offensively and defensively, of Ramirez. He had a homer, three hits and three RBI tonight and has now brought up his average to .288. And he’s been virtually flawless in the field with his patented flair.
Simply put, Alexei’s performance alone has been worth the price of admission.
We knew that tonight’s game, with Felix Hernandez on the mound for the Mariners, would be a tough one for the White Sox to win. But we also know these 2010 Sox and their ability to bounce back from losses.
Last night John Danks led the way in the 6-1 dismantling of Seattle in the South Siders’ triumphant return home after the 4-6 road trip. Paul Konerko smashed his 22nd homer of the season and Juan Pierre (2), Omar Vizquel, Alexei Ramirez and A.J. Pierzynski added RBIs. Pierre and Ramirez had three hits apiece.
To me, when Danks is on his game there’s nobody I’d rather watch pitch– and he was certainly on tonight, hurling eight innings and allowing only six hits in winning his 11th contest of the season.
After the tough road swing, this was an awfully welcome win as the Sox hold on to their one-game division lead over the Twins. And beating King Felix made it even sweeter.
When the White Sox acquired Omar Vizquel in the offseason, the hope was that he could be a veteran utility presence in the infield and a steadying influence on Alexei Ramirez.
As we sit here today, 3 1/2 games ahead of the Tigers and Twins, I don’t know where we would be without Omar. With Mark Teahen out of the lineup, he has provided a huge upgrade defensively and has been a key contributor to the offense as well. As of this morning he’s hitting .277, more than we could have reasonably expected.
Alexei? Whether it’s been Vizquel’s influence or not, he is on fire, both at the plate where his average is up to .284, and at short where he has been as good as anyone in the league.
There have been many heroes in the Sox revitalization. Vizquel, Ramirez and their buddy Gordon Beckham (all pictured above) are right at the top of the list.
For White Sox fans who didn’t survive last night’s rain delay, and heard this morning that the South Siders committed five errors, likely thought it had to be a sloppy, disappointing loss. But it wasn’t the case for these red-hot Sox, who have now won 21 out of their last 25.
Despite the five miscues the Sox won in neat fashion, taking their third straight from the Angels, 5-2, and claiming their fourth consecutive victory overall behind steady Freddy Garcia‘s ninth victory. They now have vaulted into second place, a game behind the Tigers and a half-game ahead of the Twins.
If winning despite five errors isn’t strange enough, then how about Brent Lillibridge being the DH and driving in a pair runs? The once-laughing stock of the Sox roster is now hitting .429 since being called up from Charlotte. He was joined by a team effort offensively with every man in the starting lineup getting at least one hit. Alexei Ramirez,Alex Rios and Paul Konerko had two apiece with Paulie driving in a pair of runs.
Peavy: He Gone?
I’m not burying the lead, it’s just that we’ve got to move on. Will the Sox miss Jake Peavy if he is indeed lost for the season? Undoubtedly, but it doesn’t help to whine. The hope is that Dan Hudson (or someone else that Kenny Williams acquires before the trade deadline) will be good enough to minimize the loss.
Last night’s 9-2 White Sox victory over the Angels was pretty close to perfection. Solid pitching, great defense, four homers, clutch hitting and holiday fireworks to top it all off. The only blemish was a scary top of the eighth as Bobby Jenks, obviously rusty from a week’s absence, and newcomer Erick Threets loaded the bases before Sergio Santos slammed the door on the Halos.
Many heroes emerged: Gavin Floyd and his outstanding seven innings, Dayan Viciedo and his first major league home run and a pair of RBI, red-hot Alexei Ramirez and his homer and two RBI were among them.
But the revitalized Carlos Quentin stole the show. Q hit a pair of homers with three RBI. Overcoming a horrendous start, he now has 15 homers and 53 RBI with a week to go before the All-Star Game. And then there was the first inning catch off the bat of Sox nemesis Torii Hunter in right field, which saved a run, set the tone for the night and is certain to be an ESPN “Web Gem.” Here it is, though the photo doesn’t do it justice.
I can’t say enough about Mark Buehrle. His pitching accomplishments, his leadership, his sense of humor and the fact he still runs out to catch ceremonial first pitches except on days he’s on the mound all contribute to him being special.
And not everybody boasting his credentials would be the leading spokesperson for the election of a teammate for an All-Star berth–especially when said spokesperson didn’t make it himself. But then again, Buehrle isn’t everybody. Here he is, t-shirt and all, at the Cell last night encouraging fans to vote for Paul Konerko, who by the way should already be on the American League roster.
It was Alexei Ramirez‘s clutch, two-out, two-run sixth inning homer off of Scott Feldman that proved to be the difference in the 5-3 White Sox victory over the Rangers.
The game was big, according winning pitcher Mark Buehrle, and that it was. It gave the Sox a series victory over the red-hot A.L. West leaders, a respectable 3-3 road trip and, most importantly, it moved the South Siders to within a game of the Twins and Tigers for the division lead. So it’s no wonder Alexei, whose average is now hovering around .280 after his usual mediocre start, voiced his excitement.
Another factor that can’t be ignored is that revitalized Sox pitching. Against a lineup with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Vlad Guerrero, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz, the Pale Hose gave up only three runs in each of the three games and 18 total hits, an average of only six per contest.
What seemed like an impossibility just a few weeks ago, the Sox are seriously knocking at the door of the division lead. Now back home for seven games–four against the Angels and three vs. the Royals–before the All-Star break, it is conceivable that we could have a first place team in a matter of days.
When the Braves took an early 3-0 tonight against the White Sox at the Cell, I flashed back to April and May and had that sinking feeling that we were doomed.
But this is a different Sox team. One that can rebound from an early deficit because of renewed starting pitching, clutch hitting and defense that has improved their record to 35-34. You don’t have to look further than tonight’s result against the red-hot Braves to see that. Down 3-0 after one and a half innings, the South Siders scored five runs in the bottom of the second, added one in the third and three in the fourth en route to the 9-6 victory. And after his early woes, John Danks settled down and blanked Atlanta for the next five innings before being relieved by Tony Pena in the eighth.
Here we are one game above .500, 4 1/2 games behind the division-leading Twins and only three in back of the Tigers.
Many heroes surfaced last night. Danks, A.J. Pierzynski (three hits, two RBI), AlexeiRamirez (three hits and an RBI), Paul Konerko (three hits to raise his BA to .304), Alex Rios (two hits and an RBI) and Carlos Quentin, who slammed a three-run homer for the team’s first roundtripper in eight games. We had 16 hits in all. The only negatives happened in the ninth with Scott Linebrink giving up two runs before being relieved by Bobby Jenks (who got the save) and Ramirez leaving the game with a finger injury. Too early to tell how serious the injury is.
No, I didn’t forget Omar Vizquel, who has been outstanding as the main replacement for the disabled Mark Teahen (remember him?). Omar delivered a clutch two-out, two RBI single in the Sox five-run second, which prolonged the rally (pictured above).
How important has Vizquel been to the Sox recent resurgence? The Sox are 13-6 when the future Hall of Fame starts at third base.