Tagged: Matt Thornton

I, For One, Can’t Take Much More of This

Walkoff hits, blown saves and extra inning losses are becoming commonplace with the struggling White Sox. It happened again today in Kansas City as Jason Kendall‘s walkoff single doomed Scott Linebrink for the 3-2 loss–the third straight extra inning battle in 22 hours (31 innings in all) as the Sox lost two out of three to the Royals.
It’s getting to the point where the one image that keeps coming into my mind is seeing the Twins and Tigers and Royals and Orioles all celebrating after an excruciating Pale Hose meltdown.
While they’ve shown resiliency in even the most heartbreaking of defeats, there is no indication things are going to get better. The bullpen is the biggest culprit and it doesn’t matter who it is. J.J. Putz, Bobby Jenks (despite pitching three scoreless innings today) Matt Thornton (who says he may have to go on the DL), Sergio Santos and Tony Pena all have had their problems, but at this point nobody in the pen can be trusted.
The offense missed opportunity after opportunity to score this afternoon, but it’s the bullpen that’s the achilles heel of the Sox. And we all know we are going nowhere if the pen doesn’t turn around–and turn around quickly.
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It doesn’t matter who the opposition is, watching the “other” team celebrating is becoming routine for the White Sox and their fans.


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This One Really Hurts

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All you have to do is look at their last two road games against the Twins, including last night’s heartbreak, to know that playing in Minnesota is still a nightmare for the White Sox. It happened at the Metrodome, it’s happening at Target Field and it probably would happen at a Little League field in suburban Wayzata.

You can also make a very good case that those two games represent the worst Sox defeats of the season thus far. And, eerily, both were 7-6 walkoff losses.
Before last night, that Sunday, July 18 disaster was the one that stung the most. The South Siders enjoyed a three-run lead going into the ninth only to see Bobby Jenks cough up four runs, blow the save and prevent the Sox from splitting their first series after the All-Star break.
For me, that loss was not as bad as last night. Down 4-0 in the first, the Sox battled back to tie the game at 4-4, tied it again at 5-5 on an Alexei Ramirez homer in the ninth and went ahead 6-5 in the top of the 10th. Then “Minnesota” happened. All-Star Matt Thornton gave up a leadoff single to Delmon Young and ex-Sox Jim Thome, he of the “should we keep him, should we let him go” controversy in the offseason, drilled a two-run homer to end the game. Try to get a good night’s sleep after that one.
If that scenario weren’t bad enough, the once strong White Sox bullpen is going through a significant meltdown. Jenks, who appears to be healthy enough to pitch tonight if needed, has not been reliable. J.J. Putz blew two saves over the weekend and now, for the third straight game, a Sox reliever can’t get the job done with a late-inning lead. A pen that once had three possible closers (four if you include Sergio Santos) now has no one they can really count on.
With 43 games to go, all is not lost. But two things trouble me: the fact that the Twins don’t seem to lose anymore, even without Justin Morneau, and the Sox are making a habit of losing close games late. Unless things turn around quickly, I’m afraid we’ll have plenty of time on our hands in October.
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Late White Sox Comeback Hands Mr. Baseball First Oriole Loss; Markakis is the New Mattingly

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BALTIMORE–The White Sox scored a run in each of the 7th, 8th and 9th innings tonight to come from behind for the 4-2 victory. It gave Buck “Mr. Baseball” Showalter his first loss as the Oriole skipper and it was also the first game in the last three that the temporarily resurgent O’s didn’t win on a walk-off.
Tonight’s heroes were July’s A.L. Pitcher of the Month Gavin Floyd, who won his eighth game with another superb performance; Carlos Quentin, who broke the ice for the Hose with a fourth inning solo blast; Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz, who closed the door with an inning of scoreless relief apiece; and A.J. Pierzynski (double), Alex Rios (single) and Gordon Beckham (single), who drove in the Sox’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th runs in the last three frames, respectively. A.J.’s heroics may have been costly as he left the game with an apparent ankle injury after sliding hard into third. Let’s hope it’s not too serious.
Oh, that Markakis

Years ago, when the Yankees’ Don Mattinglywas battering American League pitchers, one of the Yankee announcers mentioned that he hit a little over .500 against the White Sox. My reaction was, when did he make the outs?

Having watched the Orioles’ Nick Markakis over the past few years, and the last two nights, in particular, I’m having Mattingly flashbacks.
For the record, he went 4 for 5 on last night and 1 for 3  with a walk tonight, but it seems like he’s on base every time up. There are certain guys who have killed the Sox over the years–Mattingly and Mike Sweeney for instance–and Markakis is certainly one of the them.
Bobby Who?

That’s right, Ozzie went to Putz tonight to close out the game. Frankly, it was a relief I didn’t have to sit in Section 44 at Camden Yards and chance another Bobby Jenks‘ meltdown. Now that the door is open and Putz breezed through the ninth, has Jenks lost his job? Stay tuned?
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The Pen Sparkles as Sox Top Mariners in Impressive Comeback Win

Credit Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez and Paul Konerko for their clutch home run prowess and Alex Rios‘s clutch single which drove in the winning run in the seventh. But the real heroes in the 6-5 come-from-behind victory over Seattle tonight came out of the bullpen in a game that saw Mark Buehrle struggle in only five innings of work as he missed the opportunity to win No. 10.

A scoreless inning and a third from Sergio Santos
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A scoreless 2/3 of an inning from Matt Thornton, who was credited with the win…
A scoreless eighth inning from J.J. Putz
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And a scoreless, three strikeout save from Bobby Jenks

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And the Sox remain one game up on the Twins in the A.L. Central pennant race as they won their 10th straight victory at home and made it 17 of 18.
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Ozzie: “Our Options are Open Now” After Jenks’ Latest Meltdown in the 11-inning Loss to Seattle

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It wasn’t the colossal disaster that occurred last Sunday in Minnesota, which caused normally sane White Sox fans to consider taking a plunge off of the closest ledge, but Bobby Jenks‘ second meltdown in four days is a cause for great concern.
So great, in fact, that Ozzie is on record is saying that he’s now weighing his options for the closer role: “I get paid to win games. That’s my job, win games,” Guillen said after last night’s heartbreaking 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Mariners where Jenks blew a save. “And I’m going to put the guys there with the best shot.”
This kind of decision involving a pitcher who has been a key cog in the Sox success since joining the club in 2005, can’t be easy for Ozzie. That said, unlike most managers, he does have bullpen depth and legitimate options in former standout closer J.J. Putz, who just set a club record for consecutive scoreless appearances, and All-Star Matt Thornton. You might want to throw Sergio Santos into the mix as well.

The closer decision aside, I’m personally concerned for my health, the health of my Sox posse and Pale Hose fans in general if we have many more of these games. I can intellectualize that it’s a long season, that I need to avoid the peaks and valleys and there is always a chance for redemption the next day–something that happened to the Sox in the two games following Sunday’s debacle. But I’m human and don’t react very well to these losses.
On the bright side, I look at the standings and see we’re still in first place, 2 1/2 games ahead. A whole lot better than in April and May when I thought our season was over.
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Sunday’s Heartbreak Now in the Rearview Mirror

55047840.jpgYou have to give it to these White Sox. After Sunday’s ninth-inning meltdown in Minnesota, the third Sox loss in a row, no one knew how the club would react as they headed to Seattle and Oakland. Rest easy Sox fans, at least for now.
There are still five more games remaining on the road trip, but the early signs on the West Coast are very promising. Behind a fine performance by 23-year-old Daniel Hudson and homers by Alex Rios and Andruw Jones, the Sox coasted to a 6-1 victory over the Mariners. In the process they increased their division lead to 2 1/2 games over the Tigers and Twins, who both lost–to the Rangers and Indians respectively.
Some highlights:
* The Pale Hose cranked out 12 hits. Omar Vizquel, Rios, Paul Konerko and Gordon Beckham led the way with two apiece.
* Vizquel has been a marvel, at the plate and especially in the field. He’s now batting .271.
* Rios had three RBIs, including the two-run homer, giving him 54  for the season in addition to 16 roundtrippers and a .307 BA.
• Paulie continues to sizzle. His two hits last night raised his average to .303.
* Beckham’s surge has been fun to watch. Once languishing on or near the Mendoza line, GBeck is hitting .571 during his current eight-game hitting streak. He’s now at .241 and 
rising. In other words, he’s back to being the Beckham of a year ago.
* Hudson went 6 2/3, giving up only a lone first inning run. Matt Thornton, Tony Pena and Scott Linebrink closed the door in relief, combining for 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
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                                                 Mr. Hudson to the rescue



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First-Place South Siders Continue to Roll

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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 KonerkoCarlos Quentin and the rest can only mean good things for The Good Guys.
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