With the All-Star Game break, the blog has been dark for the past three days. But the Sox are back in action today–and so am I.
Here are a few thoughts as the Sox attempt to continue the surge that moved them into the A.L. Central lead after Sunday’s win against the Royals.
–The Sox have reported that Jake Peavy‘s surgery yesterday could not have gone better. Jake, see you in Glendale.
–The South Siders’ No. 1 draft pick, Chris Sale (pictured below), has been promoted from Class A Winston-Salem to AAA Charlotte after only four one-inning stints. Seems like he’s doing his Daniel Hudson imitation, only quicker. He could be in Chicago before too long.
–Those Adam Dunn to the White Sox rumors continue. Reports are that the Nationals are holding out for Gordon Beckham. If that’s the case, it won’t happen. Beckham’s 2010 struggles aside, Gordo is a keeper and the Sox know it.
–I haven’t seen it reported anywhere, but if the acquisition of Dunn doesn’t materialize–and I think Prince Fielder is out of the question–how about adding Raul Ibanez as a lefty bat in the Sox lineup? I’ve always liked him (actually hated him) because of his great success against the Sox over the years. Word is that the Phils wouldn’t mind parting with Raul.
–The Sox are hoping to start a new tradition tonight at Target Field. A tradition of dominating the Twins on their home field. The pitching matchups for the weekend:
TONIGHT: John Danks vs. Kevin Slowey
TOMORROW NIGHT: Gavin Floyd vs. Francisco Liriano
SATURDAY NIGHT: Mark Buehrle vs. Carl Pavano
SUNDAY: Freddy Garcia vs. Nick Blackburn
–After the four games in Minnesota, the Sox play three in Seattle, enjoy an off day and then travel to Oakland for three before returning home on July 26 vs. the Mariners.
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.
I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that last night’s 4-3 squeaker over the Royals was one of the season’s most important wins. I say that because after two straight losses following the 11-game streak, the Sox could not afford a third defeat in a row with Zack Greinke on the mound tonight and three against the hot Rangers in Arlington on the horizon.
On this night it was the pitching, especially the bullpen, that was instrumental in eeking out the victory. The South Siders scored four early runs to take a commanding lead, but the Royals got to Gavin Floyd with three in the fifth to narrow the lead to one. Then Floyd calmed down, went 6 2/3 and benefited from 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief from Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz, who earned the save. With the Twins win over the Tigers, they move back into first, 1/2 game in front of Detroit and 1 1/2 games ahead of the Sox.
Rumor mill: While the Sox are mum and Ozzie is on record saying we don’t need a big lefthanded bat right now, rumors have it that the club is exploring the possibility of bringing powerful first baseman/outfielder Adam Dunn of the Nationals (above) into the fold by the trading deadline. There’s no question the Sox could use some lefty pop, but they aren’t the only ones who covet Dunn. Whether it’s the D.C. slugger or someone else, I’m confident Kenny Williams will add a lefthanded bat before July 31.
It 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.
The Happy Headlines from today’s 2-0 triumph over Atlanta:
–White Sox win ninth consecutive game, and make it 13 of 14, with three-game series sweep
–Sox move within 2 1/2 games of the first place Twins who are swept by the Brewers
—Gavin Floyd is masterful with a scoreless seven-inning two-hitter, striking out nine Braves
–-J.J. Putz hurls perfect eighth inning, Bobby Jenks a perfect ninth
—Paul Konerko’s two-run homer in eighth, his 18th, proves to be the difference.
Up next? the Cubs. Will be heading to Chicago tomorrow and will be in the house on Saturday. Happy times on the South Side.
Floyd Stymies Braves
In two and a half months of mostly disappointing play, the White Sox have come alive. And we may look back on last night’s game against the Nats in D.C. as a real turning point. Here are some of the headlines:
–We won the “Stephen Strasburg game” despite scoring only a single run and collecting four hits against him while striking out 10 times. And while President Obama wasn’t in the house when the Sox won 2-1 in the 11th, he was there for most of the game–in a Sox cap.
–We have now won four in a row, eight of nine, nine of 11, stand only two games under .500 and 5 1/2 games behind the division-leading Twins.
—Gavin Floyd more than rose to the occasion against Strasburg, allowing only a run and five hits while striking out a handful in eight innings. The starting pitching is really on a roll.
–The pen came through big time. Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz and Bobby Jenks combined for three scoreless frames.
—Alex Rios (no surprise here) drove in both Sox runs including the deciding RBI–an infield single–in the 11th.
No reason to stop now. How nice would it be to head back to Chicago with an 8-1 road trip and a .500 record? Let’s do it.
Notes of the day: Today will mark the major league debut of Dayan Viciedo, the 21-year-old Cuban prospect who arrived in the spring of 2009 with great fanfare. He’ll be at third base, backing up Jake Peavy…Peavy’s mound opponent this afternoon will be a righthander named J.D. Martin. For those more mature Sox fans, it’s J.D., not J.C. Martin of 1960s Pale Hose fame.