With the White Sox at an even .500, 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Tigers and 1 1/2 games in back of second place Cleveland, the South Siders realistically need to win every game.
That said, we know that goal is impossible and some games are just going to wind up in the loss column due to “natural causes.” Last night’s 4-1 defeat to the Tribe was one of those losses. Fausto Carmona, who was beaten up badly in two previous starts against the Sox, was at his best as he limited the Good Guys to four hits. Two of them came off the bat of Alejandro De Aza, who has been quite impressive since his callup, hitting .310 and adding speed and energy to the lineup. The only run scored on Alexei Ramirez‘s 13th homer in the second inning, which at the time tied the score.
It was also the end of Mark Buehrle‘s team record 18-game streak of allowing three runs or less. He gave up four earned runs while being tagged for 12 hits in 7 1/3 innings. Regardless of the outcome, he remains a model of consistency.
While last night was just one of those losses that’s going to happen, tonight represents something much more. The Sox need to win in order to remain .500 or better, win the series and keep pace with the Tigers and Indians as the formidable Texas Rangers prepare to invade Chicago this weekend. Phil Humber looks to regain his early season form tonight against a very tough customer in Justin Masterton.
A 6-1 road trip, after the disastrous 3-7 home stand , is good for the soul–especially because it featured a sweep against the Twins.
Now the hard work starts as the Sox try to turn things around at the Cell. After last night’s 6-3 win over the Orioles, they are 34-27 on the road and only 24-32 at home. Stating the obvious, that puzzling stat has to change if the South Siders have any chance of winning the division.
As we look ahead to get the job done on the upcoming homestand, where we’ll face the Royals, Indians and Rangers in consecutive three-game series, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the history that was made in Baltimore last evening by a pair of Sox pitchers:
* Mark Buehrle tied the club record by allowing three runs or less in 18 straight starts. He now shares the mark with Frank Smith, who accomplished the feat 102 years ago. Buehrle also added to his team standard by winning at least 10 games for the 11th year in a row.
* By chalking up his 25th save, Sergio Santos was perfect in the ninth and in the process broke the great Mariano Rivera’s mark with his 25 consecutive scoreless appearance on the road to start a season.
“The I’m Done with Dunn Watch”: Unfortunately Ozzie either didn’t read yesterday’s blog or ignored my call for Adam Dunn to be benched. For the record, the sorry slugger went 0 for 3 last night with two walks–and, of course, a strikeout.
After an inning and a half in last night’s game against the Twins, you could just imagine all the TVs and radios being shut off in disgust wherever White Sox fans had gathered.
The Sox blew a golden opportunity to take a sizeable lead by leaving the bases loaded after scoring just a single run in the top of the first. Then, a ground ball got through the legs of Adam Dunn at first base that paved the way for three unearned runs for Minny in the bottom half of the inning.
In the top of the second, Alejandro De Aza singled to lead off the inning, but was quickly caught stealing. Brent Morel reached on an error and Juan Pierre walked to set up a potential one-out rally. You guessed it, Alexei Ramirez grounded out and Paul Konerko popped out to the shortstop. Nada.
I know what you’re thinking. We’ve seen this movie before. But for the first time in a week, there was a different ending. Thanks to two players who can’t be blamed for the team’s woes this season, Carlos Quentin and Mark Buehrle, the Sox were able to win a game, snapping their six-game slide with a 5-3 victory.
Quentin hit a pair of homers and drove in four runs while Buehrle gave up only four hits in eight innings, allowing no earned runs and lowering his ERA to 3.04.
The Zach Stewart Era Begins Tonight
When minor leaguer Zach Stewart was recently acquired along with proven reliever Jason Fraser in the Edwin Jackson/Mark Teahen trade, Kenny Williams made it clear that Stewart would be in the major leagues before the end of the season.
The comment was somewhat surprising, but the 24-year-old righthander did make three major league starts in June before he was sent back to AA New Hampshire.
The future is now–as in tonight–for Stewart, who will take the mound for the Sox against Carl Pavano and the Twins with Jake Peavy being moved back to Sunday. It’ll be a challenge for the former high draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds as Pavano has had his way with the South Siders this season.
To make room for Stewart, the Sox designated reliever Brian Bruney for assignment.
For anyone who wants to understand the White Sox struggles through the club’s first 106 games just has to look at the last three innings of today’s disappointing 5-3 loss to the Red Sox. It serves as a microcosm of the team’s failure to be better than their 52-54 record.
7th Inning: The Sox lost their 3-2 lead (wasting another Mark Buehrle effort) , largely due to a deflected infield hit and a Tyler Flowers passed ball that moved the tying and winning runs into second and third. The two runners scored on a Dustin Pedroia base hit.
8th Inning: With two outs and Alexei Ramirez on second with his 22nd double, Juan Pierre failed to drive in the tying run. It is important to note that Pierre was hitting in the third spot only because he replaced Paul Konerko, removed from the game after being hit by a pitch.
9th Inning: Now down 5-3, the Sox had three of their supposed big bats in position to give it a shot. But they went down with a whimper as Carlos Quentin, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios all went down swinging. The problem, as we all know, is that Dunn and Rios are far from being big bats, despite the preseason expectations and the back of their baseball cards. They haven’t done it in the first four months and there’s no reason to believe things are going to change.
If Dunn and Rios continue their woeful offense and continue to fail when it counts, there’s no reason to believe the Sox are any better than a .500 team let alone a division contender.
Bad Timing?: With two losses in a row, the Sox find themselves in a tough situation with the Yankees coming in for four games. To make matters worse, C.C. Sabathia is on the mound in Game 1 tomorrow night.
The Frank Thomas Statue Was Unveiled Before Today’s Game
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?
“The nicest thing about baseball and the hardest thing about baseball is that every day is a different day. Players have to turn the switch on and off right away.” —Ozzie Guillen
No matter how long you watch baseball, getting over a heartbreaking loss is never easy. So it was last night as the Sox were one out away from a victory over the Dodgers in the opener of the three-game interleague series before fate reared its ugly side. The bottom line? With two outs and nobody on base in the ninth, a third baseman by the name of Russ Mitchell stepped up and tied the game with a homer and the Dodgers won the game with three runs in the top of the 10th.
To Ozzie’s point, the Sox had to regroup today and put last night’s disappointing loss in the rearview mirror. Mission accomplished as Mark Buehrle outdueled close friend and former mound mate Jon Garland and the offense exploded for a 9-2 win. Buehrle’s line showed seven innings, two runs and seven hits, plus he became the all-time leader in interleague victories with 24. Garland, on the other hand, lasted only 3 2/3, allowing seven runs and 11 hits.
Some of the highlights:
* Paul Konerko was 3 for 5 with three RBIs.
* Alexei Ramirez was 3 for 4 with two RBIs, two runs scored and delivered a clutch two-out single that drove in a pair of key runs in the six-run fourth.
* A.J. Pierzynski had a 3 for 5 day with two runs scored.
*Alex Rios and Brent Lillibridge each blasted two-run homers.
* Gordon Beckham, followed up the two-run homer he hit last night with a 2 for 3 afternoon and reached via a walk to boot.
TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD: While his teammates were enjoying a nine run, 16-hit day on Saturday, Adam Dunn was fit for the “Golden Sombrero,” striking out four times.