The Tigers certainly seem in it to win it. Victor Martinez out for the season? No problem, let’s spend $214 million on Prince Fielder to replace him.
With yesterday’s signing, Detroit should unquestionably be the heavy favorites to win the A.L. Central. But we all know that the winners in the offseason aren’t always the winners when all is said and done.
The combination of Fielder and Miguel Cabrera hitting back to back in scary. And add Justin Verlander heading up a solid pitching staff, it’s pretty hard to think the Sox, Indians, Royals or Twins could outlast the rivals from Motown.
That said, stranger things have happened and it would be foolish to just give up and hand over the division title to Detroit. From a White Sox perspective, let’s just hope Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham rebound and our newly-formed pitching staff delivers. If they do, the South Siders certainly could be as big a pleasant surprise as we were a disappointing one a year ago.
When I heard the Fielder announcement, all I could think of was that the Sox once had Frank Thomas and Albert Belle hitting back to back–a duo even more formidable than the Fielder/Cabrera duo. And the record shows that it didn’t produce a championship team. In fact, the Sox finished around .500 in both seasons Thomas and Belle played together.
So, keep the faith.
It’s never a good thing when your starting pitcher gives up six runs–highlighted by two homers and three doubles–in the first inning. But the White Sox, despite Jake Peavy‘s early meltdown, gave it a shot this afternoon and came up one run short in the 7-6 loss to the Twins. Adam Dunn and Alex Rios both had their chances to be heroes in the ninth, but didn’t deliver. Sound familiar?
So, the five game winning streak is history and we sink to six games behind the Tigers, who staged a late-inning rally for a come-from-behind triumph over the Royals.
Now the fun begins as we head to Detroit for a three-game series after tomorrow’s off-day. The pitching matchups:
Friday night: John Danks vs. Justin Verlander, he of the 20 wins–already.
Saturday afternoon: Gavin Floyd vs. Brad Penny
Sunday night: Mark Buehrle vs. Matt Scherzer
Look at the bright side, it’s the end of August and we’re still alive.
It’s easy to point to the sloppy defense and bad baserunning as the reasons for last night’s 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Angels. A loss, by the way, that dropped the Sox to 6 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the A.L. Central.
But the truth is that it’s the same old story for the Sox that has plagued them throughout this maddening season. Suffice it to say that, in my view, if Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham had just decent seasons that 6 1/2 game deficit would be wiped out and the Sox, with their solid pitching, would be on top of the division.
Just look at what one man–Justin Verlander–has done for Detroit. The team is 12 games above .500 with him on the mound, a .500 team without him. Think about the impact Dunn, Rios and Beckham would have had with fairly good seasons.
Here are the numbers through 127 games:
–Dunn: .167, 11 homers, 40 RBIs
–Rios: .214, 8 homers, 31 RBIs
–Beckham: .238, 9 homers, 34 RBIs
It’s hard to reach the postseason when three key cogs in the offense perform at such a low level.
The game last night was very winnable. Adam Dunn even homered to give the Sox a 2-0 lead, A.J. Pierzynski even threw out a runner at second base and Paul Konerko smashed a two-run homer to tie the game at 4-4.
But a name from our past, Wilson Betemit, reared his ugly head (nothing personal, Wilson) and singled in the eventual winning run and the hope of defeating Justin Verlander for the second time in a row went by the boards. For the record, Betemit is a guy who was horrible in his short stint, both at bat and on defense, on the South Side but as an opponent has owned Sox pitching.
I guess it just wasn’t to be as Jake Peavy weakened as the game went on and Matt Thornton couldn’t retire Betemit when he need to in the eighth. But even if Thornton had retired him, who knows if the Sox could scored the deciding run. We’ll never know.
So, no sweeping the Tigers, but a series victory is a must if the Sox are to keep pace with the division leaders. Especially with the Red Sox, Yankees and Twins looming.
Sox Note of Note: Charlotte outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who is hitting .322, was pulled from his game last night. It has led to speculation that some kind of deal is in the works as we’re days away from the trading deadline. No official word yet.
The usual suspects led the White Sox to the very satisfying 6-3 victory over the Tigers last night–a win that brought the Sox to within 3 1/2 games of division-leading Detroit.
Mark Buehrle was again stellar, giving up zero earned runs in six innings. Carlos Quentin smashed a key two-run double in the fifth to give the South Siders a 4-2 lead. Paul Konerko hit a homer (23) and drove in a pair (72). And the bullpen did what they had to do even though Jesse Crain wasn’t at his best and gave up a run and two walks.
There was also familiarity in the negative column that included a bloop hit dropping in between Juan Pierre and Alex Rios, which at the time padded the Tiger lead in the third. It was reminiscent of the Sox early season woes. Adding to the usual, Adam Dunn and Rios did very little, though Dunn walked in the three-run fifth and Rios singled in the second.
In the nice surprise category Brent Morel, who hasn’t played regularly lately, delivered three singles to the White Sox’s 11-hit effort.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Justin Verlander is on the mound for Detroit tonight. The Sox beat him recently, but can they do it again?
It’s only one game, but if the White Sox continue to play like they did in last night’s 8-2 win over ace Justin Verlander and Tigers, I’m “All In.”
For those of us who endured the season’s first half, the victory was a bit of a shock to our systems. We saw several things we rarely or never saw before the All-Star break. Here’s a sampling:
–A win over the Tigers
–A triumph in the A.L. Central
–Soundly defeating Verlander, arguably the league’s hottest pitcher
–An eight-run outburst
–A solid performance by Gavin Floyd
–A clutch single by Adam Dunn that drove in a pair of runs
–A terrific outing by Will Ohman, who has significantly improved since the start of the season
–A pair of hits and sparkling defense by Mark Teahen
–Key production from Gordon Beckham, who is looking to recapture his rookie form
All this and the usual solid performances by our All-Stars, Paul Konerko (a hit, three walks and a run scored) and Carlos Quentin (3 for 5 with three RBIs), made it a fun return to Sox baseball.
It’s premature to pop the champagne and if the South Siders don’t win this series we’re back to where we were. But I’m cautiously optimistic that the second half will be different than the first.