Tagged: A's

The Red Sox are Coming! The Red Sox are Coming!

You think that you have problems? Take a look for a moment at the Bobby Valentine Red Sox.

Although they just swept a three-game series from the Twins, the Bosox stand at 7-10 and are in the basement of the A.L. East as they invade the Cell starting tonight for a four-game series. And I’m sure they haven’t forgotten last Saturday’s debacle when they blew a 9-0 lead to the Yankees and lost to their bitter rivals, 15-9.

If that weren’t enough, they’ve lost two-thirds of their regular outfield with serious injuries to Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, have a decimated bullpen that was severely weakened by an injury to new closer Andrew Bailey on the eve of Opening Day and the starting staff has been far from stellar. Add a little bit of smugness and unfortunate rhetoric from their new skipper and you have a team, as presently constituted, that will have trouble contending with the likes of the Yankees, Rays and even Blue Jays. That said, it will be interesting to see how the sweep in Minnesota has lifted their spirits.

Our Sox come in at 10-8 and in a virtual tie with the Tribe for the division lead after a 4-2 road trip to Seattle and Oakland.  It’ll Philip Humber on the mound tonight, fresh off of his perfect game. He’ll be facing promising youngster Felix Doubront.

Friday night it will be John Danks vs. converted reliever Daniel Bard, unbeaten Jake Peavy vs. Jon Lester on Saturday and Gavin Floyd vs. Josh Beckett on Sunday.

It wasn’t an oversight: No, I didn’t overlook yesterday’s 14-inning loss to Oakland. Just didn’t have the heart to revisit the bad memories.

Up and Down Sox are .500 After First Dozen Games

As the White Sox head out to Seattle and Oakland for three games each with the Mariners and A’s, we’re a .500 team. Not so horrible, I guess, but losing three of four at home to the Orioles makes it feel much worse. Especially since we were in every game and raised everyone’s expectations by  taking two of three from the Tigers to open the homestand.

There were certainly positive signs in the Baltimore series as Adam Dunn and Alex Rios both had clutch hits (something rare a year ago), Paulie is Paulie and Jake Peavy is heading into 2007 territory when he won the Cy Young with the Padres. That said, Gavin Floyd (above) left a lot to be desired on the mound, the offense is striking out way too much and either not getting on base enough or leaving too many aboard. In yesterday’s game, the South Siders struck out 16 times and left the bases loaded three times. Certainly not something to build on.

The good news is that we’re only 12 games into the season. The next 150 will determine whether or not we’re more than a .500 team.

Ozzie (and Me): “This One Hurts”

It was a tailor-made victory–or so it seemed. Bottom of the ninth, closer Sergio Santos on the mound, a two-run lead, two outs, nobody on base, two strikes on the batter.

But Santos, in only his third year as a professional pitcher and first as a closer, showed his inexperience at handling the pressure. He had a meltdown of gigantic proporations.

Three walks, a hit batsman, a single and a bases-clearing double later, the comfortable 5-3 lead turned into a 7-5 Oakland advantage as Santos (shown above sitting alone with his thoughts after being taken out of the game) gave way to Lucas Harrell to record the final out of the Oakland ninth. And the Sox went down in order in the bottom of the inning.

Short memories are important for closers and fans alike, but this one stings just a little bit more than usual. The Sox failed to capitalize on the fact that both the Indians and Tigers lost. They didn’t let sleeping dogs lie in the form of the A’s, who broke a 10-game losing streak and now may be ready to turn things around at the Sox expense the next two days. Santos, who has been such a breath of fresh air as the closer, has now had his second straight bad outing. And the South Siders relinquished any hope of reaching the .500 mark on this homestand and are now four games under and an even 4-4 since returning to the Cell after their last 10-game road trip.

For all of our sakes let’s hope Sergio’s memory is shorter than mine.

18 Runs and 21 Hits? Really

18-1_giants_tshirt.jpgThe White Sox offense exploded yesterday at Camelback Ranch as the Pale Hose overwhelmed the Oakland A’s, 18-1. Maybe even more impressive is that the Sox scored 16 runs and pounded out 20 hits through the first five innings.
This one is not easy to summarize, but here goes:
HOMERS: Gordon Beckham ( 2 on), Tyler Flowers (one on), Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin
RBIs: Quentin (4), Beckham (3), Konerko (3), Alexei Ramirez (2), Alex Rios (2), Flowers (2), Ramon Castro, Alejandro De Aza
MULTIPLE HITS: Quentin (4), Ramirez (3), Beckham (3), Lastings Milledge (2), Rios (2), Konerko (2), Brent Morel (2)
MULTIPLE RUNS SCORED: Beckham (4), Quentin (3), Milledge (2), Rios (2), Konerko (2), Ramirez (2)
FUN FACTS: Every starter had at least one hit…While Milledge and Morel were the only starters who didn’t drive in a run, each had a pair of hits…Morel was the only starter who didn’t score a run…Beckham was a triple shy of the cycle…Quentin raised his batting average from .167 to .250…Beckham is now hitting .357 and Ramirez .325…Flowers has had a great spring. He’s now batting .471.
PITCHING: While the offense stole the show yesterday, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point to the exemplary pitching…John Danks was outstanding, giving up a lone first inning run on four hits in six innings of work…Philip Humber, a leading candidate for a bullpen spot, pitched three scoreless/hitless innings, walking only one with a pair of strikeouts.
The Sox, now 8-12-1, face the A’s again today in Phoenix.

12 Runs Here, a Goose Egg There


It was split squad Thursday for the Pale Hose today in Cactus League play. 

A lineup comprised of Juan Pierre, Gordon Beckham, Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin, A.J. Pierzynski, Alexei Ramirez and Brent Morel was shut out 4-0 by the Brewers in Maryvale on a mere five hits. And perhaps the most disappointing results of all were Quentin’s 0 for 4, which gives him a woeful .167 spring batting average, and another subpar effort by Edwin Jackson, who gave up all four runs on nine hits in five innings on the mound. Give credit where credit is due–he did strike out seven.
A lineup led by Lastings Milledge (3 for 5 with two homers and three RBIs), Ramon Castro (a hit and two RBIs), Jordan Danks (a double and two RBIs), Paul Konerko (three hits and an RBI) and Gookie Dawkins (a two-run homer in the ninth) pounded out 16 hits in a 12-6 victory over the Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
When the lineups were revealed before the game, I don’t think there’s any question most would have thought the Maryvale lineup would have been the group most likely to score a dozen runs and the Talking Stick contingent would be the team more likely to get shut out. I guess that’s baseball.
The Sox are back at Camelback Ranch tomorrow vs. the A’s.

Former Sox Manager Chuck Tanner Dies at 82, Holds a Special Place in South Side History

U1766581.jpgI remember it clearly. It was the Summer of 1970 and I was driving through Southern Indiana. I heard the news on the radio: Chuck Tanner has been named the manager of the White Sox for the remainder of that season and beyond.
More news came this morning when I heard that Tanner passed away yesterday at 82.
I knew Tanner from his baseball cards and the fact he was one of a long line of not-so-memorable Cub outfielders of that era, along with the likes Jim Bolger, Bob Speake and Walt “Moose” Moryn. But would he be as non-descript as a manager as he was as a player? The truth is that he couldn’t be worse than his ’70 predecessors Don Gutteridge and Bill Adair. By the end of that season, the Sox finished 42 games out of first place and drew less than 500,000 fans.
History now shows that Tanner is best known as the manager of the 1979 World Champion “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates, who came back from a 3 games to 1 deficit to defeat the Orioles in the Series. But Sox fans remember Tanner as the enthusiastic optimist who led the Pale Hose out of the doldrums.
Partly because the Sox had hit rock bottom in 1968 (95 losses), 1969 (94) and 1970 (106), the 1971 and 1972 South Side ballclubs were two of my favorites. Donning those red pinstripe uniforms, the team’s identity reflected their manager’s fire and they played an exciting brand of ball. In ’71 the Sox improved to a 79-win season with the likes of Carlos May, Bill Melton, Jay Johnstone, Ed Herrmann, Tommy John and Wilbur Wood, et. al.
Then in 1972, the Sox acquired Dick Allen, whose difficulties with other players and managements were well-chronicled. But he seemed to fit nicely under Tanner’s influence (see picture above). Both had grown up in western Pennsylvania and were familiar with each other. The result was that the Sox were contenders with 87 victories and Allen stole the show with an MVP season. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Allen and these White Sox could have saved the franchise from moving (rumors had them going to St. Petersburg or Seattle).
Tanner never came close to the same success in his final three years as a Sox manager and was fired after the 1975 season when Bill Veeck took over the team. He quickly was hired by the Oakland A’s and then it was on to the Pirates, when he became of the few managers in history to be traded for a player (Manny Sanguillen). 
It’s hard to argue against the fact that Tanner’s greatest managerial success was with the Pirates. But to White Sox fans, that 1971 and 1972 turnaround has to be very close.

Sox Win! Sox Win! “Marks” Save the Day



I know that the White Sox have been eliminated.

I know that the recent eight-game losing streak was too much to bear.
I know that we’re still in danger of finishing in third place.
All that said, today’s 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the A’s, giving the Sox their first victory since September 12, put a smile on my face. I needed it to cure my baseball blues.
Two forgotten South Siders–Mark Kotsay (above, top) and Mark Teahen 
(above, bottom)–came to the rescue today with key ninth-inning pinch hits. Manny Ramirez, bless his heart, was nowhere to be found.
So it’s on Anaheim. My hope is we can close out the season against the Angels, Red Sox and Indians with three series victories. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
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Yet Another Excruciating One-Run Loss for Sox


Headline:  Light-hitting Tigers catcher Alex Avila hit a one-out, two-run homer off of J.J. Putz (above) in the top of ninth inning tonight to power the Tigers to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the White Sox.

Sub-headline:  Putz’s blown save wasted a superb performance by Edwin Jackson, who gave up only a run while striking out 11 in seven innings.

The Reality:  The Twins beat the A’s 2-0 and have now increased their A.L. Central lead to two games over the Sox. What makes matters worse is that the South Siders travel to Minny next week for three games against a team that has beaten them eight of 12 times so far this season. Oh yeah, we’ll be facing Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano, who both gave us fits at the Cell last week, plus Carl Pavano, who will be seeking his 16th win.

Bottom line? A bad loss, a really bad loss.

                     Avila’s homer sails over Minnie and sinks Putz and the Sox

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The Remarkable Revival of Brent Lillibridge

Based on his major league performance last year, the last person I expected–and wanted–to see in a White Sox uniform in 2010 was Brent Lillibridge. Both at bat and in the field he looked overmatched in ’09 before being sent to Charlotte, where he spent most of the summer.
That said, Lillibridge’s revival this season has been remarkable. Since being promoted to the Sox after Mark Teahen was placed on the DL he has been a solid contributor, batting .387 as a spot starter and utility man off of the bench. Even more important than the average is the fact he has come up with a number of clutch hits–none more important than his three-run triple this afternoon against Gio Gonzalez and the A’s to pace Gavin Floyd and the South Siders to the 4-1 victory. With the Twins’ victory the Hose remain a half-game ahead of the Twins for the division lead.

So, with Teahen now in a rehab stint and pretty close to returning, what will happen to Lilli? The smart money is on the Sox postponing Teahen’s return as long as possible and when he comes back assigning Dayan Viciedo to Charlotte until the rosters expand September 1. Tank, as Hawk “in my 51 years in baseball” Harrelson calls him, has been impressive, but it would be difficult to demote Lillibridge based on what he’s done and the fact he can play both the infield and outfield. 
After a day off tomorrow the White Sox head to Detroit for four games, including a day/night doubleheader on Tuesday. Edwin Jackson is scheduled to make his Sox debut on Wednesday night.
Lillibridge’s triple drove in Ramon Castro, Carlos Quentin and Andrew Jones, pictured here showing their appreciation

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No Manny, No Dunn, No Sweat

55294573.jpgThe false rumors about Manny Ramirez or Adam Dunn being dealt to the White Sox might make it seem like the South Siders failed to get the job done at the trade deadline. I look at it quite the opposite. Sometimes the trades you don’t make benefit you the most.
I certainly don’t know exactly what the asking price was for either slugger, but adding one or the other could have hurt more than helped if it meant giving up the likes of Gordon Beckham, Carlos Quentin or Tyler Flowers. Not only for the future, but for the present–on the field and in the clubhouse. And we all know Kenny Williams. If there is a way to improve the club by claiming somebody on the waiver wire, he’ll do it.
With Jake Peavy out for the season, Edwin Jackson (pictured above) is a fine pickup. I hated to part with Daniel Hudson, who has the potential of being a fine major league starter, but Jackson’s veteran presence will help fill the Peavy void. He’s also signed through next season.
Thought for the day:  No need to dwell on last night’s 6-2 loss to the A’s. It was bound to happen after the amazing winning streak at home. The important thing is to come out today and beat former Sox Gio Gonzalez and stay ahead of the surging Twins, now just a half-game behind.

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