Tagged: Orioles

The Pen Again

Yesterday’s blog featured a photo that included Monday night heroes A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Sergio Santos celebrating after the game. Also in the photo was Brent Morel, who went 0 for 4 and committed what could have been a fatal fielding error if the Sox hadn’t rallied to win.

What a difference a day makes. Last night, Morel bounced back and was at the center of the offense as the Sox won their fifth in a row, 4-3. He drove in the Sox’s second run in the second inning with a single and homered in the fourth to widen the Pale Hose lead to 4-0.

While Morel’s bat, along with Carlos Quentin‘s 24th homer and Pierzynski’s RBI double, paced the attack, it was the shutdown bullpen that was most impressive as it held the O’s to only the three runs they scored off starter Gavin Floyd in the fifth. Granted, the pen hasn’t been perfect as evidenced by Jesse Crain surrendering the three-run homer to J.J. Hardy on Monday. But the talent and versatility that Ozzie has at his disposal gives the Sox an advantage over most of their opponents.

Here was last night’s scenario:

* Despite showing signs of tiring, Floyd  began the seventh. He gave up a double to Felix Pie, who moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Floyd then retired the red-hot J.J. Hardy on a grounder to third. Two outs, runner on third, Sox killer Nick Markakis at the plate. Ozzie makes the call to the pen and lefty Will Ohman ends the threat by striking out Markakis.

* Jason Frasor came on to start the eighth. He walked Adam Jones and struck out Vlad Guerrero. With the lefty Chris Davis coming up, Ozzie called on Chris Sale, who retired Davis on a popup and then struck out Mark Reynolds.

* Instead of calling on Santos to begin the ninth, the skipper chose to have Sale face switch-hitter Matt Wieters. He struck him out. With the Orioles opting to call on Josh Bell to pinch-hit for lefty Felix Pie against Sale, Ozzie decided to stay with his lefthander. Bell grounded out to shortstop. Two outs, nobody on.

*Making his final move, Ozzie then called on Santos to face righthanded hitter Robert Andino and  he proceeded to strike him out, the way he did with the three batters he faced the night before. For Santos, save number 24.

And at the risk of burying the lead, the Indians extra-inning win over the Tigers helped the Sox narrow the Detroit lead to four games. A win tonight and the Sox are back at the .500, something we doubted might happen again this season after last week’s four-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees.

A Picture of Health

Just take a look at the picture above. It pretty much represents all you need to know about the White Sox’s impressive 7-6 come-from-behind win over the Orioles, their fourth consecutive victory.

–At the far left, there’s A.J. Pierzynski, who went 2 for 3 with three RBIs, including his sixth home run. He also made as good a catch on a foul pop as you’re ever going to see to record the second out of the eighth inning with men on first and second. Matt Thornton then came on to get the third out to thwart the Baltimore rally.

–Next to him is Alex Rios, whose two-out RBI single in the eighth (following an A.J. sac fly), broke a 6-6 tie after a three-run J.J. Hardy blast put the O’s ahead. It has to be said that Rios has been a different player the past three games after being benched in the opener in Minnesota for his less-than-spectacular offense. He has seven hits in the past three contests.

–At the far right of the photo is Gordon Beckham, whose two-run homer in the second provided the Sox with an early 4-0 lead.

–Right behind Beckham is Sergio Santos, who recorded his 23th save by striking out the side in the ninth. It was also his 28th straight scoreless appearance on the road. Not bad for a converted infielder.

–In the “who doesn’t belong and why” category, Brent Morel is also in the frame. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of his best nights. He went 0 for 4 and if it weren’t for the Sox rally he could have been the goat. He was charged with a missed catch error at third base in the seventh that put runners on first and third. One out later Hardy put the Orioles ahead.

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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Is it Just “One Game” or the Beginning of the End?

55523626.jpgLet me state the obvious: It’s a very long season with many ups and downs. If you don’t believe it’s true, just look at where the White Sox were at the beginning of June.
Where they are now is an interesting subject to ponder. You can look at how much ground they’ve gained in the last two months and see them in a positive position. Or you can look at the last seven games where they were 2-5 against the Orioles and Twins. You can also judge where they are in the standings two ways–you can say that they are ONLY a game out of first or you can view it as a huge disappointment that they’re now out of first place and a full game behind the Twins.
All this doesn’t matter because it’ll be played out on the field. But the troubling thing to me is that we lost two of three to Minnesota at home and last night’s 6-1 defeat was as disappointing and demoralizing a loss that the Sox have had since beginning their turnaround. Add to that, the sinking feeling that comes from seeing that however we’re playing and whatever we do, the Twins are that much better on a consistent basis. It also doesn’t make me any happier that we face them three more times next week at Target Field.
Much of what I’ve written above comes from the frustration of watching the Sox load the bases three times last night–once with no outs and once with one out–and come up empty each time in what was, at this point at least, a pivotal game.
OK, that’s enough. We have to move on. And the Sox will do exactly that tonight against the Tigers behind Mark Buehrle. For the record, I’ll be scoreboard watching with the Twins hosting the A’s.
Sox notes of note: The Sox sent Dayan Viciedo back to Charlotte after the game last night and brought Mark Teahen back from his rehab assignment. Viciedo will surely be brought up September 1 when the rosters expand. For a while it looked like it was going to be a tough decision, but Viciedo’s play both offensively (no walks, too many strikeouts) and defensively (very shaky at third) made it an easier call for the club’s brass to send down Dayan and recall Teahen.
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Castro: “They Were Hitting Everything”

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It was over early last night. Carlos Quentin‘s three-run blast got the White Sox within two runs in the second inning, but the Twins never let up and went on to overwhelm the former first-place South Siders, 12-6, to take a one-game lead in the A.L. Central. 

Sox backup catcher Ramon Castro, who was behind the plate last night, pretty much said it all with above quip. The usually steady Freddy Garcia gave up six runs, including three homers, in 2 1/3 innings and the relievers had no answer for the Minnesota bats either.
The Sox have hit some hard times since winning three of four from Detroit last week–losing three of four to the Orioles in Baltimore and starting the Twins series this way. It’s also troubling that The Good Guys have lost seven of the first 10 games to their rivals up north and are below .500 in the A.L. Central.
That said, these resilient Sox will be looking for a turnaround tonight behind John Danks. They’ve come back from adversity all season so this is no time to panic. All that’s needed is a win to get us back into first place.
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“O” My, This Was Hard to Watch


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It was a series for the taking. The first-place White Sox against the last-place Orioles with a pitching staff laden with double-digit losers.
But these aren’t the same woeful Orioles–at least right now. Since Buck Showalter took over as the skipper, Baltimore swept a three-game series against the Angels and just took three of four from the South Siders–all one-run victories with two extra inning walkoff wins. While the Sox pitching was outstanding during the series, giving up only 11 runs in the four contests, the Hose scored only 10.
So the Sox come home to face the Twins, who are now in a dead heat with The Good Guys for the division lead, after a 4-4 road trip. I guess we should just chalk it up to circumstance: We were due for hitting slump and Showalter’s arrival was just bad timing. 
One thing you can say for these Sox, they’re shown resiliency time and time again. Down in the ninth both yesterday and today, they made it interesting on both occasions. Ramon Castro hit a two-run blast yesterday as the Sox inched within a run before losing and tonight Paul Konerko tied up the game 2-2 before the O’s won it on a Brian Roberts homer in the 10th.
Bring on the Twinkies, our bats can’t stay this silent for much longer.
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A Sunday to Forget

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BALTIMORE–The White Sox gave every indication that they were going to get to Oriole righthander Jeremy Guthrie in the early going today, but the runners they got on base never came around to score. As a result, Guthrie settled down and proceeded to stymie the Hose, giving up only a single run in eight innings of work as Baltimore hung on to win, 4-3.
The bats that were so silent in the season’s early going and so explosive since the beginning of June have been back to being silent the past three games at Camden Yards. The big Sox blow today was the two-run home run by Ramon Castro (pictured above after slugging a homer earlier this season at the Cell ) in the ninth. Unfortunately it was too little too late.
 

The loss combined with the Twins 5-4 victory in Cleveland, decreased the Sox lead in the A.L. Central to a half-game. The South Siders are hoping for a split of the four-game series here tomorrow night with Edwin Jackson making his second Sox start.
 
Sox notes of note: After leaving last night’s game with a “tweaked” knee, A.J. Pierzynski got his usual “day game after a night game” rest and should be good to go tomorrow night…Today, it was Gordon Beckham who was replaced as he strained a groin. Early word is that it’s not serious…Speaking of injuries, Mark Teahen will spend a little more time rehabbing in Charlotte. Seems that the Sox want him to spend more time at a variety of positions. The longer Teahen’s there, the more time they’ll have to make a decision on the necessary roster move when he’s ready to come back to the 25-man roster. And don’t forget, rosters expand on September 1…Mark Buehrle pitched well enough to win if only the Sox bats were clicking. He gave up 10 hits, but only three earned runs in seven innings. 


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