It’s been a long time coming, but the White Sox reached the .500 mark today with a nail-biting 1-0 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley for their fourth straight win. Phil Humber (above), who has been nothing short of extraordinary all season, chalked up his eighth win in seven innings of work. The season’s most pleasant surprise outpitched Matt Garza, who went all the way in the loss.
The South Siders went hitless for five innings before the red-hot Juan Pierre (who else?) collected the first Sox hit and drove in their lone run in the same at bat in the sixth.
With Sergio Santos having pitched three days in a row, Matt Thornton was called upon to preserve the shutout. He did, hurling two perfect frames for his third save. Another spectacular performance by a bullpen that has been nothing less than spectacular in recent days.
Nothing’s perfect, though, and if an Adam Dunn resurgence is forthcoming it’s going to have to wait. Dunn, playing in right field in place of Carlos Quentin, struck out three times. It seems his nightmare is never going to end.
Sox win 4 of first 5 against the Cubs to win Crosstown Cup with 1 game to go.
For a while it looked like…well, it looked like the same movie we’ve seen a million times. Pitching that keeps us in the game and wasted opportunities by an underachieving offense.
But today, in the rubber game of the series vs. the Rockies, it was a different theme. It was, in short, a satisfying come-from-behind extra inning 6-4 victory. A far cry from the tough and controversial loss in the opener.
Down 4-1 heading into the seventh inning, the Sox scored one in the seventh, two in the eighth to tie the game and two in the 10th to take the lead. Sergio Santos pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save. He was preceded by starter Jake Peavy, who settled down after allowing a three-run, first inning homer to Troy Tulowitzki, and Will Ohman, Chris Sale and Jesse Crain, who each pitched a scoreless inning.
Two of the most maligned White Sox were today’s heroes. Juan Pierre went 3 for 5 with three RBI, including the single that bounced off the right field wall to score the fifth and sixth runs in the 10th. Gordon Beckham went 3 for 3 with a walk, homered and drove in a pair.
Sox are now 40-42 and remain four games in back of the division lead as they head into Wrigley tomorrow for a three-game series with you know who.
When you don’t have the answers, pull out the cliches:
- You can’t win when you don’t score.
- You’re not as bad as you look when you’re losing and not as good as you look when you’re winning.
- A team that’s not hitting looks more lethargic than it really is.
I don’t know what else to say. This White Sox team of the “All In” expectations entering this season has become a conundrum wrapped up in an enigma. From day to day you never know what team is going to show up.
The biggest issue, of course, has been the offense–an offense that seemed destined to break out on a daily basis. They have been a far cry from what we expected. You only have to look at the last three games, the first three of the road trip. Losing each contest, the South Siders scored one run in the two games against the Twins and scored just a single run last night against ex-Sox Daniel Hudson in the 4-1 loss to the surging D-backs. Surprise, it was a Paul Konerko homer.
Sox Notes of Note: Ozzie insists that Juan Pierre will remain in the leadoff spot and left field despite the pressure to recall Dayan Viciedo and move Carlos Quentin to left. Guillen also added “as long as he’s here.” I wonder if that was a throw away line or a Freudian slip–and there’s some movement behind the scenes to move Juan…While Pierre’s job is safe right now, Brent Lillibridge will be in the leadoff spot and in left field today against Arizona lefty Zach Duke. Brent Morel will be in the No. 2 hole, Alexei Ramirez will bat fifth and Ramon Castro will be behind the plate.
Last night ‘s White Sox homecoming was full of both oddities and familiarities as the Sox defeated the Tigers, 6-4, to move within two and a half games of second-place Detroit and seven behind the division-leading Tribe.
The oddities: Juan Pierre homered for the first time this season. Adam Dunn reached on an infield hit, his first off of a lefty. The Sox failed to score twice with the bases loaded and once with men on second and third with no outs. The South Siders broke a nine-game losing streak against the Tigers and in the process won their fourth consecutive game for the first time in 2011. Not to mention that Paul Konerko sat out the game after undergoing a procedure on his wrist.
The familiar: Carlos Quentin smashed a three-run homer, his 14th, to give the Sox a 4-0 lead. Red-hot Brent Lillibridge slammed a solo shot, his seventh. “Money” closer Sergio Santos‘s four-out save, his 10th in 11 tries, ended with a strikeout of the always dangerous Miguel Cabrera. Brent Morel made three sensational plays at third, reminiscent of Joe Crede. Mark Buehrle delivered another quality start, winning his fifth of the season. Also very familiar were Alex Rios‘s continuing struggles at the plate and Matt Thornton‘s less-than-effective appearance as a set-up man.
Amid all of that, it was Pierre that emerged as the primary hero. It was his great catch against the wall off the bat of catcher Alex Avila with the bases loaded in the eighth that saved the Sox from losing the lead. Moments later, in the bottom of the inning, his homer gave the Sox some breathing room heading into the ninth. In all, he reached base four times (homer, two walks, one HBP) with three runs scored.
I would be remiss if I didn’t congratulate Dunn (half-kidding here). He took a baby step toward respectability as he beat out that ground ball to halt his hitless streak against lefthanders.
Gratuitous photo of the day: Actress Minnie Driver throws out the ceremonial first pitch last night at the Cell.