Yesterday’s blog featured a photo that included Monday night heroes A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Sergio Santos celebrating after the game. Also in the photo was Brent Morel, who went 0 for 4 and committed what could have been a fatal fielding error if the Sox hadn’t rallied to win.
What a difference a day makes. Last night, Morel bounced back and was at the center of the offense as the Sox won their fifth in a row, 4-3. He drove in the Sox’s second run in the second inning with a single and homered in the fourth to widen the Pale Hose lead to 4-0.
While Morel’s bat, along with Carlos Quentin‘s 24th homer and Pierzynski’s RBI double, paced the attack, it was the shutdown bullpen that was most impressive as it held the O’s to only the three runs they scored off starter Gavin Floyd in the fifth. Granted, the pen hasn’t been perfect as evidenced by Jesse Crain surrendering the three-run homer to J.J. Hardy on Monday. But the talent and versatility that Ozzie has at his disposal gives the Sox an advantage over most of their opponents.
Here was last night’s scenario:
* Despite showing signs of tiring, Floyd began the seventh. He gave up a double to Felix Pie, who moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Floyd then retired the red-hot J.J. Hardy on a grounder to third. Two outs, runner on third, Sox killer Nick Markakis at the plate. Ozzie makes the call to the pen and lefty Will Ohman ends the threat by striking out Markakis.
* Jason Frasor came on to start the eighth. He walked Adam Jones and struck out Vlad Guerrero. With the lefty Chris Davis coming up, Ozzie called on Chris Sale, who retired Davis on a popup and then struck out Mark Reynolds.
* Instead of calling on Santos to begin the ninth, the skipper chose to have Sale face switch-hitter Matt Wieters. He struck him out. With the Orioles opting to call on Josh Bell to pinch-hit for lefty Felix Pie against Sale, Ozzie decided to stay with his lefthander. Bell grounded out to shortstop. Two outs, nobody on.
*Making his final move, Ozzie then called on Santos to face righthanded hitter Robert Andino and he proceeded to strike him out, the way he did with the three batters he faced the night before. For Santos, save number 24.
And at the risk of burying the lead, the Indians extra-inning win over the Tigers helped the Sox narrow the Detroit lead to four games. A win tonight and the Sox are back at the .500, something we doubted might happen again this season after last week’s four-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees.
White Sox 4, Twins 3.
That statement alone will turn some heads as the Sox defeated Minnesota this afternoon for the first time in 2011 after dropping nine in a row dating back to last year. It also broke a four-game Pale Hose losing streak on their current homestand.
In a game that was headed toward another Twinkie victory, a couple of clutch two-out hits (I’m not kidding) in the late innings turned the tide. In the eighth, Carlos Quentin delivered a single to tie the score at 3-3 and Alexei Ramirez, who homered in the first to give the Sox an early 1-0 lead, singled to center in the ninth. It scored A.J. Pierzynski from second for the game-winner.
Former Twin Jesse Crain got the win after pitching a perfect ninth. Starter Mark Buehrle authored another fine performance, but got the no-decision. All three Minny runs off of Buehrle were unearned.
Can the Sox make it two in a row and split the four-game series? Jake Peavy will try to do it tomorrow before the Sox head into the All-Star break.
Sox Note of Note: One negative on the day. Backup catcher Ramon Castro suffered a broken hand on a play in the eighth inning, setting the stage for Pierzynski to enter the game. No official announcement has been made, but it’s likely Tyler Flowers will be called up from AAA Charlotte to replace him.
The next time you hear somebody tell you the White Sox are cheap and not doing all they can to win, kindly tell them to shut up.