Art Berke, a lifelong White Sox fan, has worked at the highest levels of the sports industry with Major League Baseball, ABC Television and Sports Illustrated. He grew up in Northwest Indiana, in the shadow of old Comiskey Park, and proudly proclaims 2005 as the best year of his life. Art offers his glass half-full opinions and observations as he lives and dies with the Sox.
They found themselves facing the most unenviable of positions tonight after losing John Danks to an oblique strain after 1 2/3 innings. There they were needing to fill the remaining 7 1/3 innings a day after the entire bullpen was used in the 14-inning marathon defeat.
But survive they did as the combination of Brian Bruney (2 1/3), Jake Peavy (4) and Sergio Santos (1) had Danks’ back and shut out the red-hot Nationals, 3-0. Peavy improved his record to 4-1, allowing just one hit and striking out seven For the record, it was his first major league relief appearance.
The run the Sox scored in the first on a Carlos Quentin sac fly was all the South Siders needed. But they tallied two insurance runs in the eighth on a Ramon Castro single to breathe a little easier.
The Sox were unsure of Danks’ status following the game. He will very likely have to go on the DL, in which case a reliever will be added with the club going with the conventional five-man rotation.
The White Sox go for their 18th consecutive interleague series win tomorrow with Phil Humber on the mound.
Ozzie put it best when he said he didn’t know if the Sox “played very good or not that good” in last night’s 9-5, 14-inning loss to the sizzling Washington Nationals.
Comebacks in the ninth (Mark Teahen‘s three-run homer tied the game at three), 10th (a bases loaded wild pitch that evened the score at five) and the 12th (a two-out, two strike homer by A.J. Pierzynski to make it 5-5), showed that the Sox had some grit. The kind of ability to come back that we’ve rarely seen so far this season.
On the other hand, we witnessed some negatives that proved to be fatal. There were multiple missed opportunities with men in scoring position, including the failure to score the winner with the bags full and one out in the 10th. And there was the crucial throwing error by Alexei Ramirez that Teahen couldn’t handle at first (pictured above), which opened the door to four unearned runs in the 14th.
All in all, good or bad?
Bad, of course, because we lost and blew the chance to reduce Cleveland’s division lead to 3 1/2 games. That said, there was a silver lining with the impressive three comebacks and the fact the Indians, Tigers, Twins and Royals all lost.
Keeping it positive, remember this: The Sox have won all three interleague series–against the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Cubs–but have dropped the series opener in each case.
I wasn’t going to post this morning with no real news coming out of the Sox camp during the off-day.
But then came the news that our next opponent’s skipper, Washington’s Jim Riggleman, had resigned when his GM Mike Rizzo refused to talk with him about an extension.
The whole situation is strange, but if you read between the lines it seems that the fact the Nationals front office didn’t want to engage in any dialogue means Riggleman wasn’t their guy going forward–and he saw it coming. At least that’s my opinion.
So, how does it affect the Sox this weekend? Well, the Nationals come in on fire, having won 11 of their last 12. We just have to hope that despite their recent surge they are a bit dazed and confused with the managerial controversy.
When the Mets selected outfielder Lastings Milledge as their No.1 pick in the 2003 draft, they expected him to be the club’s star of the future. Like so many major league draft picks, he was eventually deemed expendable and was traded to the Nationals after the 2007 season. Washington, in turn, dealt him to the Pirates in June of 2009.
After a season and a half in Pittsburgh, Milledge’s contract was declined by the Bucs after last season–presumably for a variety of reasons which include a history of average (at best) production, injuries and attitude problems. As a result, the one-time “can’t miss” prospect became a free agent at the tender age of 25.
A free agent, that is, until today when the White Sox signed him to a minor league deal. With Alejandro De Aza the only reserve outfielder listed on the roster, the Sox apparently think Milledge can be a contender for the fourth outfielder role (potential super-sub Mark Teahen, Brent Lillibridge and Dayan Viciedo arein the picture as well). A righthanded hitter, the newest signee batted .277 last year, but .320 with a .926 OPS against lefties.
Milledge certainly hasn’t come close to the expectations placed on him when he was drafted. But, in my opinion, the Sox have done the right thing in making this move. Hopefully somewhere within Milledge there’s a star waiting to break out.
After an 8-1 road trip and six victories in a row the Sox will arrive home to play the Braves on Tuesday as a .500 team. And despite winning against mediocre teams like the Cubs, Pirates and Nationals, it looks like we’ve turned the corner with solid play (and no homers in eight straight games). I have to admit I had serious doubts it would happen this season.
Freddy Garcia won his eighth game today in the 6-3 win over the Nationals and Alex Rios and Paul Konerko continued their assault on major league pitchers. Between them they were 5 for 10 with five RBI. And this could be the most telling stat of all: The Sox starters are 9-1 with a 1.95 ERA in their last 12 games.
“Today’s game might be the biggest game all year,” Ozzie told reporters after the game. “We got a chance to be .500 and go back home and continue to play the way we want to play…a couple of weeks ago were in a lot of trouble, but now (we’re) getting the players’ confidence back and giving the team some hope.”
In two and a half months of mostly disappointing play, the White Sox have come alive. And we may look back on last night’s game against the Nats in D.C. as a real turning point. Here are some of the headlines:
–We won the “Stephen Strasburg game” despite scoring only a single run and collecting four hits against him while striking out 10 times. And while President Obama wasn’t in the house when the Sox won 2-1 in the 11th, he was there for most of the game–in a Sox cap.
–We have now won four in a row, eight of nine, nine of 11, stand only two games under .500 and 5 1/2 games behind the division-leading Twins.
—Gavin Floyd more than rose to the occasion against Strasburg, allowing only a run and five hits while striking out a handful in eight innings. The starting pitching is really on a roll.
–The pen came through big time. Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz and Bobby Jenks combined for three scoreless frames.
—Alex Rios (no surprise here) drove in both Sox runs including the deciding RBI–an infield single–in the 11th.
No reason to stop now. How nice would it be to head back to Chicago with an 8-1 road trip and a .500 record? Let’s do it.
Notes of the day: Today will mark the major league debut of Dayan Viciedo, the 21-year-old Cuban prospect who arrived in the spring of 2009 with great fanfare. He’ll be at third base, backing up Jake Peavy…Peavy’s mound opponent this afternoon will be a righthander named J.D. Martin. For those more mature Sox fans, it’s J.D., not J.C. Martin of 1960s Pale Hose fame.
Don’t say things aren’t popping around the White Sox these days. Check this out:
* Sox sweep Pirates and have now won eight of 10–and are only three games under .500.
* South Siders brace for Stephen Strasberg and the Nationals tomorrow night. It’ll be Gavin Floyd for the Sox.
* Jake Peavy will go Saturday in D.C. The MRI showed no structural damage so he’s only being held back two days.
* And maybe the most intriguing bit of news is that the Sox have just designated Jayson Nix for assignment and promoted 1B-3B-DH Dayan Viciedo (pictured above) from AAA Charlotte. He was hitting .290 with 14 homers and 34 RBI in 62 games for the Knights. We could certainly use his bat and Nix was really a non-factor.
How many times have we heard this comment the past few years? The White Sox can’t win unless they hit homers. It’s even been a popular refrain this season when it was supposed to be a transition from power to speed and versatility.
Well, with tonight’s 7-2 victory over the Pirates behind a John Danks‘ gem, an 11-hit attack and six Pittsburgh errors, the Sox have now won seven of nine games and two in a row in Pittsburgh. But the most interesting fact is that they’ve won three of the last four (and should have won the Sunday night game at Wrigley) without a single home run. At least for now, it’s back to Ozzie’s smart ball and hopefully a formula for winning baseball games.
The South Siders go for the sweep tomorrow night and then it’s on to D.C. Friday as they try to hand Stephen Strasburg his first loss.
Of course White Sox fans would have loved a sweep at Wrigley, extend the club’s winning streak to five and to have gained a game on the Twins. But in light of last night’s developments, I’m just happy that Juan Pierre foiled Ted Lilly‘s no-no in the ninth so we didn’t have to suffer the indignity of enduring the feat amid the vines. And able to leave the North Side with a series victory.
Perhaps more important than winning a series on the road–and against the North Side Media Darlings at that–is that the Sox have begun to play entertaining, competitive baseball with solid starting pitching such as Gavin Floyd‘s gem last night. Frankly, it was getting difficult to watch their dismal play–even for the most loyal fans.
So, now it’s on to Pittsburgh and Washington starting tomorrow night. The hope is that we can continue winning series and maybe even give Stephen Strasburg his first major league loss on Friday night.
Question of the Day:Hate to be petty, but has anyone ever seen Ted Lilly smile?