BALTIMORE–The White Sox scored a run in each of the 7th, 8th and 9th innings tonight to come from behind for the 4-2 victory. It gave Buck “Mr. Baseball” Showalter his first loss as the Oriole skipper and it was also the first game in the last three that the temporarily resurgent O’s didn’t win on a walk-off.
Tonight’s heroes were July’s A.L. Pitcher of the Month Gavin Floyd, who won his eighth game with another superb performance; Carlos Quentin, who broke the ice for the Hose with a fourth inning solo blast; Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz, who closed the door with an inning of scoreless relief apiece; and A.J. Pierzynski (double), Alex Rios (single) and Gordon Beckham (single), who drove in the Sox’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th runs in the last three frames, respectively. A.J.’s heroics may have been costly as he left the game with an apparent ankle injury after sliding hard into third. Let’s hope it’s not too serious.
Oh, that Markakis
Years ago, when the Yankees’ Don Mattinglywas battering American League pitchers, one of the Yankee announcers mentioned that he hit a little over .500 against the White Sox. My reaction was, when did he make the outs?
Having watched the Orioles’ Nick Markakis over the past few years, and the last two nights, in particular, I’m having Mattingly flashbacks.
For the record, he went 4 for 5 on last night and 1 for 3 with a walk tonight, but it seems like he’s on base every time up. There are certain guys who have killed the Sox over the years–Mattingly and Mike Sweeney for instance–and Markakis is certainly one of the them.
That’s right, Ozzie went to Putz tonight to close out the game. Frankly, it was a relief I didn’t have to sit in Section 44 at Camden Yards and chance another Bobby Jenks‘ meltdown. Now that the door is open and Putz breezed through the ninth, has Jenks lost his job? Stay tuned?
The 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.
It was another White Sox explosion tonight as the South Siders crushed four home runs in a 9-5 victory over the Mariners. It concluded a four-game sweep over Seattle and moved The Good Guys to a game and a half in front of the red-hot Twins.
Ramon Castro connected for a pair of roundtrippers and Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin hit back-to-back blows in the seventh to cinch the victory.
Freddy Garcia bounced back from his disastrous last start and pitched six solid innings to win his 10th game of the season.
A weekend series with the A’s is up next.
My company is running a sports career event this week in New York, where high school and college students from around the country are touring NY area sports venues like Yankee Stadium, Red Bull Arena, Madison Square Garden and Citi Field and hearing from sports business leaders.
One of the stops we made on Wednesday was the MLB Network where we posed for pictures in one of the dugouts at Studio 42, named after Jackie Robinson.
All eyes were on the White Sox last night. Could they come out of the break with same fire that saw them go 25-5 in the last 30 games? How would they do against the rival Twins as they aimed for their ninth victory in a row–this coming on the heels of the 11-game winning streak?
Aside from a six-run Twins uprising in the second off of John Danks, which saw Minny take the lead after the Sox scored four in the first two frames, it was all good as the Sox held on in the 8-7 squeaker to increase their division lead to a full game over the Tigers.
There was no lack of positive signs. The gutty Danks bounced back to go six innings after giving up six runs in the second, Juan Pierre went 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored, four players (Omar Vizquel, Alex Rios, Mark Kotsay and Gordon Beckham) pounded out a pair of hits each with Beckham and Rios both going 2 for 3 with two RBIs apiece. And GBeck added a long second-inning homer.
Additionally, the pen did what they had to do with three clutch two-out strikeouts to end Twins rallies–Matt Thornton (Jason Kubel) in the seventh, Bobby Jenks (Orlando Hudson) and Jenks (Jim Thome) to end the game in the ninth.
With a lot of heroes to choose from, the best part of last night for me was the continuing emergence of Beckham as the same guy we saw in 2009. His bat is perking up, his power is back, he’s been sparkling in the field and his average is up to .221 and climbing. That average might not seem like much, but it’s a big improvement from where it’s been in the early going.
Many folks agree that Beckham is the key to the Sox offense. I’m one of them. His presence in the lineup was enormous last year and adding a vintage GBeck to Rios, Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin and the rest can only mean good things for The Good Guys.
With all the angst and negativity that the White Sox and their fans went through during the first two months of the season, it was beyond crazy to think that here at the All-Star break I can look you straight in the eye and say: The Pale Hose are in first place.
On the strength of winning 25 of their last 30 with superb pitching, clutch hitting and tight defense, the Sox are unbelievably on top of the A.L. Central 11 games above .500. Today’s 15-5 triumph over the Royals and the Twins victory in Detroit gave the South Siders their eighth straight win and a 1/2 game division lead over the Tigers.
The Happy Totals: The 15-run, 18-hit offensive explosion today at the Cell was a sight to behold and overshadowed Daniel Hudson‘s mediocre season debut. The Sox scored seven runs in the third inning powered by four home runs (Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones and Dayan Viciedo) and five in the sixth (highlighted by Quentin’s grand slam, his second two-homer game in as many days). Jones’ blast, a three-run shot, was his 400th career round-tripper…Other offensive highlights included Gordon Beckham’s 3 for 4, RBI day and a pinch-hit RBI double by the suddenly productive Brent Lillibridge, who is hitting .455 with 10 RBI since his call-up from Charlotte.
Dan Hudson (above), who was so impressive in his short stint with the White Sox last year and is 11-4 with Charlotte in 2010, takes the mound at the Cell today against Zack Greinke and the Royals as he tries to help the Sox win their eighth in a row.
Hudson’s appearance will follow another gem by a Sox starter. This time it was Gavin Floyd‘s one-run, 7 2/3 inning performance in last night’s 5-1 Sox win. It’s hard to believe how dominating Sox pitching has been. In the last three series–nine games–they have allowed only 17 runs and no more than three in a single game.
The South Siders have also found their homer stroke. Carlos Quentin hit a pair last night, Gordon Beckham slugged his third of the season and A.J. Pierzynski went deep twice the night before. Pitching, power and the recent outstanding defense is a pretty solid combination, right?.
Standings Update: With the Tigers’ second straight triumph over the slumping Twins, the Sox remain a half-game out of the division lead with the possibility of reaching the top today with a win and a Detroit loss to Minnesota…the Twins are now 3 1/2 games behind the Sox, amazing since the Chicagoans were 9 1/2 behind them as recently as last month…The Pale Hose have won 13 of their last 14 at the Cell.
Paulie an All-Star: It’s unfortunate that it was a result of someone else’s injury as he should have been selected out of the gate, but Paul Konerko has been named to the A.L. All-Star team to replace concussion-plagued Justin Morneau. He’ll join the entire 25-man Yankee roster in Anaheim (OK, I’m exaggerating).
All-Star Konerko congratulates Quentin after No. 20’s second homer last night
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.