Thanks to his terrific first half and a masterful marketing effort by the White Sox, Paul Konerko won the “Final Vote” to take his rightful place alongside teammate Carlos Quentin on the A.L. All-Star team.
The following quote from Konerko, about the team’s effort to get him to the midsummer classic, is something special. When was the last time a modern-day athlete expressed his gratitude in this manner?:
“The front office and the public relations people have done a great job. I feel bad that every year our team seems to have to go through this big production. And they do a heck of a job. In fact people come in here on off days when they shouldn’t be working. And I definitely appreciate that.”
Any hope of a sweep and the chance of getting above the .500 mark were dashed big-time this afternoon by a journeyman pitcher who was 0-2 with a 5.40 earned run average in 2011 and had a lifetime 75-84 record and a 4.86 ERA going into today’s game.
In seven innings, Rodrigo Lopez, who has pitched for the Padres, Orioles, Rockies, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Cubs in his 10 undistinguished seasons, shut out the Sox with only two hits in his seven innings on the Wrigley mound and the Cubs hung on to win 3-1. Gavin Floyd was decent for the Sox, but had his usual bad inning and now has the dubious distinction of being the losing pitcher in both losses to the Cubs this season.
Offensively, The Sox scored their run against Kerry Wood in the eighth and got the tying runs on the bases, but Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol shut the door with no further damage and Marmol did likewise in the ninth. And you knew this was coming: Adam Dunn was 0-4 with a strikeout, dropping his batting average to .165. There’s really nothing left to say. We’re lucky to be only 3 1/2 games out of first with the once-potent slugger doing absolutely nothing to help the cause.
The Sox head to the South Side for three against the Royals and four against the Twins before leaving for the All-Star break.
Sox Notes of Note: Carlos Quentin was named the lone Sox All-Star with Paul Konerko still having a chance in the final online vote. In an effort to get him on the team, the White Sox have created the campaign, “PaulStar.” For the record, the club has had great success with the “final vote” in the past as fans have voted in both Scott Podsednik and A.J. Pierzynski. Although Konerko unquestionably belongs by virtue of his terrific season, it’s hard to argue with the two first basemen who did make it–Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera.
Here’s A.J. showing who he’ll be voting for:
The White Sox “To Do” list for the stretch of games vs. the the Mariners and A’s, beginning on June 6:
* Bounce back from the lost weekend series with Detroit…check
* Defeat Seattle’s rookie pitching sensation Michael Pineda…check
* Find a way to beat 2010 Cy Young Award winner “King Felix” Hernandez…check
* Overcome Mariners’ tough lefty Jason Vargas tonight for the sweep…mission pending
* Win the four-game series vs. Oakland, which begins on Thursday…pending
So far, so good, as the Sox continue their effort to accomplish everything on their check list. There’s much more to be done, but last night’s impressive 5-1 win over King Felix and his teammates was particularly satisfying.
Before the season, if you would have told me we’d be facing Hernandez without Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez in the starting lineup, I would have said we have little chance. But that’s exactly what occurred last night as the struggling (to say it mildly) Dunn and Rios were on the bench (Rios did pinch run and played defensively in the ninth) and Ramirez was given a rest in favor of Omar Vizquel.
Vizquel wasn’t simply Ramirez’s replacement, he was one of the game’s heroes. His triple drove in a pair of runs in the Sox four-run third inning. Along with Paul Konerko’s 14th homer and Carlos Quentin‘s two-run blast, his 15th, it provided more than enough offense for the victory.
And, of course, there was another virtuoso performance by the South Siders’ unlikely pitching ace, Phil Humber. The former No. 1 draft choice of the Mets won his fifth game, allowing only a single run on five hits in 7 2/3 innings as he lowered his ERA to 2.87. Humber left the game in the eighth to a standing ovation.
Just think where we’d be without him.