Tagged: Cubs

Round 1 to the Sox, Bullpen Shines

To state the obvious, one of the true indicators of a contending team is a strong bullpen. Whether it’s a group of relievers piecing the game together or the closer shutting the door after a starter’s eight-inning effort, it’s a sight to behold when it works.

And last night it was a thing of beauty for the White Sox as they defeated the Cubs, 4-3, and won their 17th consecutive interleague series.

Jake Peavy was solid, especially for his first start after returning from the DL. Offensively, the highlights were A.J. Pierzynski‘s two-run triple and Brent Lillibridge‘s suicide squeeze that scored A.J. But to me, the bullpen succession of Chris Sale, Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton and closer Sergio Santos was the most satisfying part of the victory.

The details:

  • Sale relieved Peavy with two outs in the sixth and got out of a jam by getting the dangerous Starlin Castro to ground out to third. The lefty returned in the seventh and ended the inning by striking out Alfonso Soriano.
  • Crain came on in the eighth with an inherited runner, Tony Campana, who eventually reached third with one out via a stolen base and ground out. Crain proceeded to strike out Koyie Hill before Thornton came on to stifle the rally by striking out Kosuke Fukodome.
  • Santos closed out his 14th save in impressive style by retiring Castro on a groundout and striking out two legit power threats–Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena, who homered in each game of the series.
If the pen can consistently get the job done like they did last night, the postseason is certainly in reach.

Nice Win, But We Live in a Real World

Twenty-four hours ago, my Sox posse and I were lamenting the 6-3 loss to the Cubs in the opener of the Crosstown Series.

One day later, we have claimed an impressive 3-2 rain-delayed win over the North Siders, gained a full game on the first place Indians, to move within 4 1/2 games of first place, and have inched closer to the elusive .500 mark (36-39).

While all of us are feeling better this morning, we can’t ignore three dark clouds that need to clear out before we seriously think postseason:

  • Adam Dunn
  • Alex Rios
  • Gordon Beckham
Dunn — As documented here and everywhere, Dunn has been a failure of monumental proportion. Here we are on June 21 and the slugger who consistently has hit in the 40 homer and 100 RBI range, has smashed just seven HR and driven in 29. Most alarming, of course are his 91 strikeouts in 64 games and his .175 batting average.  It won’t happen for a variety of reasons, but how about recalling Dayan Viciedo to share DH duties and play a little right field? We can’t endure Dunn much longer if he doesn’t snap out of it.
Rios — If it weren’t for Dunn’s woes, Rios would be the main whipping boy. After last season we thought he figured it out, but apparently not. Hitting .212 with six homers and 20 RBIs, he’s looked lost at the plate for the most part and  it seems his offense has affected his defense. He doesn’t seem to be the same “money” centerfielder as he was last season. The good news is that he’s come alive a bit lately.
Beckham — Although it hasn’t gotten the notice–or the blame–of the others, you can make a case that Beckham is the biggest disappointment of all. In his first season (2009), when he was named Rookie of the Year by two peer groups, he was as close to a sure thing as we’ve had since the days of Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura and Jack McDowell. But he began his sophomore season in a horrific slump, came on during the summer and ended the season injured. This year, he looks like another average major league infielder, not the perennial All-Star we thought he would be. There is still time for him to get back to his “glory days,” but if it doesn’t happen it’ll be a colossal disappointment to the organization and its fan base.
On a more positive note, how about that Konerko? He’s absolutely on fire with his 21 homers, 59 RBIs, 331 BA and 1.010 OPS. Not to mention having hit HR in five consecutive games.

An Altogether Miserable Evening at the Cell

Games like tonight make you wonder if the White Sox are ever going to make a legit run for the A.L. Central title. And to make matters worse, it was a loss at the hands of the Media Darlings from the North Side.

Blowing a 3-0 first inning lead, which was fueled by a Carlos Quentin RBI single and a Paul Konerko two-run blast (No. 20), our familiar “quiet bat” syndrome took hold from innings two through nine.

Add that to a Gavin Floyd meltdown– he gave up four runs in the sixth on a solo homer by Starlin Castro and a three-run belt by Carlos Pena–and it was a disastrous 6-3 loss to the Cubs.

I’ve written it what seems like a million times, but if  Adam Dunn (0-4 with three strikeouts) and Alex Rios (a harmless ninth inning single in four at bats) don’t significantly turn it around, we’re sunk. And the most puzzling aspect of all is the manner in which Dunn has become almost an automatic strikeout victim. What ever happened to his annual output of nearly 40 homers and 100 RBIs? Simply amazing.

The 2011 White Sox are certainly testing our patience. And if a win isn’t in the cards, how about a late inning rally once in while? The truth is, when the Sox got down 6-3 the faithful was pretty sure it was a lost cause.

And it was.

I Love Sports Illustrated, But…

SI_RS_SotY.jpgI love Sports Illustrated. I love the people there. I spent the 20 most enjoyable years of my life as the magazine’s chief spokesman and I treasure every moment.

Now that I’ve expressed my undying love for my “alma mater,” I have to take them to task for minimizing my favorite baseball team in this year’s Baseball Preview Issue. This is nothing new. All I have to do is point to 2004 and 2005 to make my point. 
In ’04, the powers that be at SI went gaga over the first Red Sox world title since 1918, naming the team and its fans Sportsmen of the Year. In ’05, the Pale Hose won its first World Series since 1917–a year longer between championships–and not only didn’t they win the Sportsman award, there wasn’t even a mention of the feat in that particular issue. Instead, there was yet another story about Roger Clemens’ excellence representing the year in baseball. By the way, how did that work out for Roger?
So, here it is 2011 and the editors of my favorite magazine are at it again. Here’s an example:
–In the Who’s Hot/Who’s Not section, the Motor City is deemed as hot, the Windy City as not. The “Not” opinion was based on the White Sox and Cubs spring training records. What? Since when did spring training records mean anything? And the statement that neither team has much hope for the playoffs is evidence that whoever wrote this simply has no clue. Many of the foremost experts in the game, including several knowledgeable scouts, pick the Sox to win the A.L. Central.

–Although the editors pick the South Siders to finish third behind the Twins and Tigers in the A.L., I can’t complain. Reasonable people can disagree and it’s likely the three clubs will battle for the top spot all season long. But why am I not surprised that SI picked the our Sox third?

–To add insult to injury, SI falls into the same trap as most of the sports media by glorifying the Media Darlings from the North Side. They even hired political pundit Jeff Greenfield to write a fantasy about the Cubs winning the World Series. SI, it’ll never happen.

–Lastly, the magazine picks the Red Sox to win it all. What a coincidence that the baseball editor is a Boston fan. Stunning.
Am I too sensitive? Yes. Am I overreacting? Probably. I guess that’s what happens when a White Sox fan has to deal with the national media’s prejudice in favor of the Yankees, Red Sox and the other team in Chicago that plays in that overrated dump of a ballpark.
Get a good night’s sleep. Big day tomorrow in Cleveland.

Is it Opening Day Yet?

If it’s a spring training game in Arizona, chances are the White Sox will wind up on the losing end. After a 6-2 loss to the Dodgers this afternoon, the South Siders find themselves at 9-16-1 and in the cellar of the Cactus League.
The Ups:

Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel (pictured on left) each collected a pair of hits…Carlos Quentin continued his hot streak with his fourth homer of the spring…Matt Thornton struck out the side in the ninth…Adam Dunn, who has struck out 22 times in 53 at bats this spring, didn’t record a “K” today. Did I mention that he didn’t play?
The Downs:

John Danks was touched up for four runs (three earned), six hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings…Mark Teahen continued his consistency by committing an error–this time at first base.
It’s Sox vs. Cubs in Mesa tomorrow.

All In? Not So Much

GLENDALE, AZ–With nearly 12,000 in attendance and more watching on TV back in Chicago, it seemed like a great opportunity yesterday for the White Sox to display their “All In” brand of baseball against our friends from the North Side.
Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way.
First, the South Siders were far from being all in on this day. Mark Buehrle got the starting nod, but there were only three regular position players in the starting lineup–Paul Konerko as the DH, Adam Dunn at first and Gordon Beckham at second–and it showed. Cubs pitching held the Sox scoreless until the Good Guys put three on the board in the ninth, highlighted by a two-run homer by Lastings Milledge (pictured above). It wasn’t enough, though, and the Pale Hose wound up on the short end of the 4-3 final score.
The Ups:

Not much to brag about here…The Milledge homer…Stefan Gartrell‘s RBI double and the fact he collected one-third of the six Sox hits…Jeff Marquez pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts, Will Ohman and Jesse Crain pitched a perfect inning each and Matt Thornton was credited with a scoreless inning, giving up a lone hit.
The Downs:

Aside from the eight innings of non-existent offense and a Beckham error that led to an unearned run, the big downer was Buehrle’s outing. He gave up three runs (two earned, including a homer to Carlos Pena), six hits and two walks in his three innings of work…Ozzie said after the game that it was the first time he had seen Mr. Perfect upset after a spring training performance.
Sox host the Rangers this afternoon at Camelback Ranch.

Sox Experience the Natural Progression of Things

54638639.jpgIt happens. In fact it happens so often that I was expecting a couple of losses in a row after the 11-game winning streak.
What I’m saying is that it’s pretty much the natural progression of things that a team will suffer a bit of a letdown after winning a significant number of games in a row.
So it is now with our White Sox. After the streak ended on Sunday with the loss to the Cubs, the Sox lost another last night in Kansas City. In both Sunday and Monday contests the South Siders had a chance to win in the ninth with a clutch hit or two. But the law of averages prevailed and now we’ve lost a couple in a row and stand two games back of the Tigers who beat the Twins to move into first place.
The Pale Hose will be back at it tonight with Gavin Floyd on the hill against the Royals. No need to panic, but it’s important for us to win this one. We don’t want the two games to get to three and beyond.
Note of the day:  Red-hot Carlos Quentin was named the American League Player of the Week. Continuing his surge, he homered for the only Sox tally last night.
mlblogs_100_icon (2).gif