We knew that tonight’s game, with Felix Hernandez on the mound for the Mariners, would be a tough one for the White Sox to win. But we also know these 2010 Sox and their ability to bounce back from losses.
Last night John Danks led the way in the 6-1 dismantling of Seattle in the South Siders’ triumphant return home after the 4-6 road trip. Paul Konerko smashed his 22nd homer of the season and Juan Pierre (2), Omar Vizquel, Alexei Ramirez and A.J. Pierzynski added RBIs. Pierre and Ramirez had three hits apiece.
To me, when Danks is on his game there’s nobody I’d rather watch pitch– and he was certainly on tonight, hurling eight innings and allowing only six hits in winning his 11th contest of the season.
After the tough road swing, this was an awfully welcome win as the Sox hold on to their one-game division lead over the Twins. And beating King Felix made it even sweeter.
While we’re surely disappointed, let’s put our 4-6 post-All-Star Game road trip, capped off by today’s 6-4 loss to the A’s, into perspective.
We went into the Midsummer Classic a half-game ahead in the division and after the subpar trip to Minnesota, Seattle and Oakland we’re now a full game up on the Twins. It’s true that we increased the lead to 3 1/2 during that span, but we live in a real world and we knew our torrid play wouldn’t last forever. The important thing is that we’re still in first place.
Our return to the Cell tomorrow night against the Mariners won’t be an easy game to win as John Danks faces Felix Hernandez. He blanked the Sox, giving up two hits and striking out eight in eight innings last Wednesday in the heartbreaking 11-inning loss. But I feel a whole lot better that we’ll be in the comfort of home.
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 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.
After watching the White Sox play during the season’s first two months, this recent surge–which has seen the South Siders win 22 of their last 27 games–is an amazing phenomenon.
The latest development? John Danks‘ magnificent complete game, two-hit shutout against the Angels this afternoon. It gave the Sox the four-game sweep and a five-game winning streak. Think pitching is the name of the game? Here are the opponents’ run totals in the last two series against Texas and Los Angeles: 3, 3, 3, 2, 1, 2, 0, totaling 14. The Pale Hose countered with plenty to spare, scoring 30 during that span. As Hawk would say, that’ll work.
The Royals are next up as the Sox look to continue their dazzling play into the All-Star break. Now a half-game behind the idle Tigers, we have a real shot at being on top of the A.L. Central at the traditional half-way point of the season. Believe it.
Michael Young (.316 BA, 11 HR, 51 RBI), Ian Kinsler (.294), Josh Hamilton (18, 58, .343), Vlad Guerrero ( 18, 68, .339), Nelson Cruz (10, 39, .319) and Elvis Andrus (.296, 22 SB) comprise the dynamic offensive core of the first-place Texas Rangers, who now hold a 4 1/2 game lead in the A.L. West.
They also represent the huge challenge the White Sox have this weekend as they look to stay close in the A.L. Central after losing two of three to Kansas City on the heels of demolishing their National League opponents.
Sure, the Sox will have to score some runs to match the Rangers prolific attack, but in the end the burden will rest with the Sox starters, who need to minimize the damage for the South Siders to compete.
We will be counting on Freddy Garcia, John Danks and Mark Buehrle to get the job done. The last thing we need is to lose ground after we’ve gotten within 2 1/2 games of the division lead.
The weekend series in Arlington, which begins tomorrow night after today’s off day, is not do or die for the Sox, but it will say a lot about what we can realistically expect going forward.
Freddy, Danks and Mr. Perfect will attempt to quell the Ranger offense
When the Braves took an early 3-0 tonight against the White Sox at the Cell, I flashed back to April and May and had that sinking feeling that we were doomed.
But this is a different Sox team. One that can rebound from an early deficit because of renewed starting pitching, clutch hitting and defense that has improved their record to 35-34. You don’t have to look further than tonight’s result against the red-hot Braves to see that. Down 3-0 after one and a half innings, the South Siders scored five runs in the bottom of the second, added one in the third and three in the fourth en route to the 9-6 victory. And after his early woes, John Danks settled down and blanked Atlanta for the next five innings before being relieved by Tony Pena in the eighth.
Here we are one game above .500, 4 1/2 games behind the division-leading Twins and only three in back of the Tigers.
Many heroes surfaced last night. Danks, A.J. Pierzynski (three hits, two RBI), Alexei Ramirez (three hits and an RBI), Paul Konerko (three hits to raise his BA to .304), Alex Rios (two hits and an RBI) and Carlos Quentin, who slammed a three-run homer for the team’s first roundtripper in eight games. We had 16 hits in all. The only negatives happened in the ninth with Scott Linebrink giving up two runs before being relieved by Bobby Jenks (who got the save) and Ramirez leaving the game with a finger injury. Too early to tell how serious the injury is.
No, I didn’t forget Omar Vizquel, who has been outstanding as the main replacement for the disabled Mark Teahen (remember him?). Omar delivered a clutch two-out, two RBI single in the Sox five-run second, which prolonged the rally (pictured above).
How important has Vizquel been to the Sox recent resurgence? The Sox are 13-6 when the future Hall of Fame starts at third base.