With the White Sox hoping to win at least two of three in the weekend series vs. the World Champions to keep pace with the Twins and C.C. Sabathia on the mound tomorrow night, tonight’s convincing 9-4 Sox triumph was a welcome sight.
The combination of outstanding pitching by Freddy Garcia, clutch hitting, another poor performance by the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett and a number of Bomber mistakes, proved to be the difference.
Among the Sox heroes was the ageless Omar Vizquel, who has been a marvel all season. He went 2 for 4 with two runs scored, two RBIs and a stolen base.
Pale Hose Notes of Note: The win tonight was the 70th of the season for the South Siders and the 11th for Garcia…The last thing the Sox needed was another injury to a reliever, but that’s exactly what happened. Lefty Erick Threets, after a scoreless eighth inning, was removed for Scott Linebrink after going 3-2 against Mark Teixiera. No word as to how serious it is…Is it my imagination or does Linebrink cough up a homer every time he appears in a game? He did it again tonight as he surrendered a two-run shot to Nick Swisher…With the Sox having claimed Manny Ramirez on waivers from the Dodgers, it’s now a waiting game to see what happens. The two clubs can either work out a deal or L.A, suddenly in contention for a wild card spot, can pull him back. Manny has a no-trade clause, but word is that he’ll agree to the deal.
All the frustration from two weeks of blown leads, walkoff homers and the loss of a division lead came to an abrupt halt last night as the White Sox exploded with the 11-0 victory over the Twins.
When any team in this situation is badly in need of a win, they look to their leaders. The Sox are no exception and theirs came through big-time with a whole lot of help from the troops as The Good Guys hurled a shutout and pounded out 21 hits.
The leaders–three grizzled vets from the 2005 champs–rose to occasion in a huge way. Paul Konerko, enjoying a monster season, went 5 for 5 with his 31st homer and four RBI; Mark Buehrle pitched seven innings of scoreless, five-hit ball; and A.J. Pierzynski, struggling through an offensive season he’d like to forget, added two hits and two RBI.
Adding to the barrage were three-hit nights from Juan Pierre, Omar Vizquel, Alexei Ramirez and Mark Teahen. And, by the way, check out these averages: Pierre is hovering around .280 while Vizquel and Ramirez are both in the .290 neighborhood. A far cry from earlier in the season.
As I live and die with the Pale Hose on a daily basis, it’s always good to get a reality check from one of the guys in my Sox posse. Here’s some wisdom from Tim Clodjeaux, a former Sox PR guru:
“Keep in mind that this ‘meltdown’ is not as bad on paper as it has been to watch. Since the break the Sox are 17-17. Playing .500 ball will not win you many pennants, but it is far from a collapse. It just looks bad because of the nine losses in 12 games prior to tonight–and the way we lost many of those nine. And the Twins, on the other hand, are now 24-9 since the break. So while the Sox have stumbled, the Twins have deservedly made their move to the top of the standings.”
I don’t think my White Sox posse is much different than most Sox fans. We’ve been pretty hard on Mark Teahen. First, he got off to a terrible start in spring training and then unpleasantly surprised us with his subpar defense at third base with an offensive game that was nothing to brag about.
Perhaps the biggest indictment of all is that he went on the DL with the bum finger at the same time the South Siders began their run to the top of the A.L. Central. Coincidence or not, when Omar Vizquel became the Sox regular third baseman the Hose began to roll.
So it’s been a running joke with us that the Twins will get Justin Morneau back from the DL and we get Teahen. Kind of a consolation prize. When somebody went for the laugh last night via e-mail, I responded by saying, “Wouldn’t it be funny if he made a huge impact down the stretch?”
Well, he’s off to a good start. In his first game back, the Rodney Dangerfield of Sox players batted fifth, played right field and went 2 for 4 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs scored in the 8-4 Sox victory over the Tigers.
Kenny Williams pursued Adam Dunn, had Lance Berkman in the fold until the then-Astro nixed the deal and surely looked at others. I don’t want to overreact to one game, but maybe we had that lefthanded hitter we coveted all along. He was just on the DL.
And maybe the joke’s on us.
Things I’m thinking about…
* After the 12-2 win over the Tigers in the opener I would have loved a doubleheader sweep last night, but as one of the members of my Sox posse e-mailed after the second game: “It’s baseball. You don’t win them all. We split two games and gained one-half game. I’ll take it.” And we all know how difficult it is to sweep a twinbill.
* You’d be hard-pressed to find a better story than that of 43-year-old future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel (above). Having taken over the third base job after Mark Teahen‘s injury, he’s now hitting .293 with numerous clutch hits and superb defense. Remarkable.
* Has anybody noticed that Alexei Ramirez is hovering around the .300 mark at .296? And, oh, that defense.
* Less than two months ago Chris Sale was the club’s No. 1 draft choice out of Florida Gulf Coast University. Is he now headed to Chicago? After four games with Class A Winston-Salem, he was promoted to AAA Charlotte and has struck out 15 in 6 1/3 innings over seven relief appearances. With Carlos Torres shipped back to Charlotte after last night’s start and Erick Threets on the DL, speculation is that Sale might be joining the big club as the second lefty in the pen.
* I wonder how the hapless Orioles will respond to new manager Buck Showalter, who Ozzie sarcastically has referred to as “Mr. Baseball.” If they improve, I hope they start after we leave town next Monday night.
* I’m eager to see Edwin Jackson face his former teammates in Detroit tonight. Would love to see a lights-out performance.
* A big thank you to the Rays, now on top of the A.L. East, for taking the first two games against the Twins.
We knew that tonight’s game, with Felix Hernandez on the mound for the Mariners, would be a tough one for the White Sox to win. But we also know these 2010 Sox and their ability to bounce back from losses.
Last night John Danks led the way in the 6-1 dismantling of Seattle in the South Siders’ triumphant return home after the 4-6 road trip. Paul Konerko smashed his 22nd homer of the season and Juan Pierre (2), Omar Vizquel, Alexei Ramirez and A.J. Pierzynski added RBIs. Pierre and Ramirez had three hits apiece.
To me, when Danks is on his game there’s nobody I’d rather watch pitch– and he was certainly on tonight, hurling eight innings and allowing only six hits in winning his 11th contest of the season.
After the tough road swing, this was an awfully welcome win as the Sox hold on to their one-game division lead over the Twins. And beating King Felix made it even sweeter.
When the White Sox acquired Omar Vizquel in the offseason, the hope was that he could be a veteran utility presence in the infield and a steadying influence on Alexei Ramirez.
As we sit here today, 3 1/2 games ahead of the Tigers and Twins, I don’t know where we would be without Omar. With Mark Teahen out of the lineup, he has provided a huge upgrade defensively and has been a key contributor to the offense as well. As of this morning he’s hitting .277, more than we could have reasonably expected.
Alexei? Whether it’s been Vizquel’s influence or not, he is on fire, both at the plate where his average is up to .284, and at short where he has been as good as anyone in the league.
There have been many heroes in the Sox revitalization. Vizquel, Ramirez and their buddy Gordon Beckham (all pictured above) are right at the top of the list.
You 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.
* 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.
Mr. Hudson to the rescue