Tagged: Paul Konerko

Tough, Tough Loss

The game last night was very winnable. Adam Dunn even homered to give the Sox a 2-0 lead, A.J. Pierzynski even threw out a runner at second base and Paul Konerko smashed a two-run homer to tie the game at 4-4.

But a name from our past, Wilson Betemit, reared his ugly head (nothing personal, Wilson) and singled in the eventual winning run and the hope of defeating Justin Verlander for the second time in a row went by the boards. For the record, Betemit is a guy who was horrible in his short stint, both at bat and on defense, on the South Side but as an opponent has owned Sox pitching.

I guess it just wasn’t to be as Jake Peavy weakened as the game went on and Matt Thornton couldn’t retire Betemit when he need to in the eighth. But even if Thornton had retired him, who knows if the Sox could scored the deciding run. We’ll never know.

So, no sweeping the Tigers, but a series victory is a must if the Sox are to keep pace with the division leaders. Especially with the Red Sox, Yankees and Twins looming.

Sox Note of Note:  Charlotte outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who is hitting .322, was pulled from his game last night. It has led to speculation that some kind of deal is in the works as we’re days away from the trading deadline. No official word yet.

Sox Ride Their Prize Horses to Win Over Tigers

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?

Is Sox Rebound Justin Time?

It’s only one game, but if the White Sox continue to play like they did in last night’s 8-2 win over ace Justin Verlander and Tigers, I’m “All In.”

For those of us who endured the season’s first half, the victory was a bit of a shock to our systems. We saw several things we rarely or never saw before the All-Star break. Here’s a sampling:

–A win over the Tigers

–A triumph in the A.L. Central

–Soundly defeating Verlander, arguably the league’s hottest pitcher

–An eight-run outburst

–A solid performance by Gavin Floyd

–A clutch single by Adam Dunn that drove in a pair of runs

–A terrific outing by Will Ohman, who has significantly improved since the start of the season

–A pair of hits and sparkling defense by Mark Teahen

–Key production from Gordon Beckham, who is looking to recapture his rookie form

All this and the usual solid performances by our All-Stars, Paul Konerko (a hit, three walks and a run scored) and Carlos Quentin (3 for 5 with three RBIs), made it a fun return to Sox baseball.

It’s premature to pop the champagne and if the South Siders don’t win this series we’re back to where we were. But I’m cautiously optimistic that the second half will be different than the first.

Konerko is a Paul Star

Thanks to his terrific first half and a masterful marketing effort by the White Sox, Paul Konerko won the “Final Vote” to take his rightful place alongside teammate Carlos Quentin on the A.L. All-Star team.

The following quote from Konerko, about the team’s effort to get him to the midsummer classic, is something special. When was the last time a modern-day athlete expressed his gratitude in this manner?:

“The front office and the public relations people have done a great job. I feel bad that every year our team seems to have to go through this big production. And they do a heck of a job. In fact people come in here on off days when they shouldn’t be working. And I definitely appreciate that.”

It’s the Offense, Stupid!

Some may point to the fact that Jake Peavy was off of his game last night, giving up five runs, six hits, a pair of walks and a crucial two-out, two-RBI single to journeyman catcher Matt Treanor in six innings of work.

But the truth is that it was the offense that has to bear the bulk of responsibility for last night’s 5-3 loss to the Royals. It wasn’t about getting on base, but rather the season-long problem of clutch hitting. The Sox collected 13 hits and a pair of walks, but stranded 13 runners. The math is simple: if just three of those runners had crossed home plate, the loss would have been a victory.

As Ozzie said after the game, “We’re so unpredictable…We struggle with people on base, and like I preach, we have to get better than that. We need big hits…”

Paul Konerko again was the center of the offense, going 3 for 5 with a homer and two RBIs. And A.J. Pierzynski (3), Omar Vizquel (2), Juan Pierre (2) and Carlos Quentin (2) had multiple hit games, but only Quentin drove in a run. With Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez out of the lineup, Adam Dunn, Brent Lillibridge and Gordon Beckham went 0 for 13 with seven strikeouts.

Remember what Ozzie said: “We have to get better than that.”

Letdown Sunday

Any hope of a sweep and the chance of getting above the .500 mark were dashed big-time this afternoon by a journeyman pitcher who was 0-2 with a 5.40 earned run average in 2011 and had a lifetime 75-84 record and a 4.86 ERA going into today’s game.

In seven innings, Rodrigo Lopez, who has pitched for the Padres, Orioles, Rockies, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Cubs in his 10 undistinguished seasons, shut out the Sox with only two hits in his seven innings on the Wrigley mound and the Cubs hung on to win 3-1. Gavin Floyd was decent for the Sox, but had his usual bad inning and now has the dubious distinction of being the losing pitcher in both losses to the Cubs this season.

Offensively, The Sox scored their run against Kerry Wood in the eighth and got the tying runs on the bases, but Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol shut the door with no further damage and Marmol did likewise in the ninth. And you knew this was coming: Adam Dunn was 0-4 with a strikeout, dropping his batting average to .165. There’s really nothing left to say. We’re lucky to be only 3 1/2 games out of first with the once-potent slugger doing absolutely nothing to help the cause.

The Sox head to the South Side for three against the Royals and four against the Twins before leaving for the All-Star break.

Sox Notes of Note: Carlos Quentin was named the lone Sox All-Star with Paul Konerko still having a chance in the final online vote. In an effort to get him on the team, the White Sox have created the campaign, “PaulStar.” For the record, the club has had great success with the “final vote” in the past as fans have voted in both Scott Podsednik and A.J. Pierzynski. Although Konerko unquestionably belongs by virtue of his terrific season, it’s hard to argue with the two first basemen who did make it–Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera.

Here’s A.J. showing who he’ll be voting for:

Nice Win, But We Live in a Real World

Twenty-four hours ago, my Sox posse and I were lamenting the 6-3 loss to the Cubs in the opener of the Crosstown Series.

One day later, we have claimed an impressive 3-2 rain-delayed win over the North Siders, gained a full game on the first place Indians, to move within 4 1/2 games of first place, and have inched closer to the elusive .500 mark (36-39).

While all of us are feeling better this morning, we can’t ignore three dark clouds that need to clear out before we seriously think postseason:

  • Adam Dunn
  • Alex Rios
  • Gordon Beckham
Dunn — As documented here and everywhere, Dunn has been a failure of monumental proportion. Here we are on June 21 and the slugger who consistently has hit in the 40 homer and 100 RBI range, has smashed just seven HR and driven in 29. Most alarming, of course are his 91 strikeouts in 64 games and his .175 batting average.  It won’t happen for a variety of reasons, but how about recalling Dayan Viciedo to share DH duties and play a little right field? We can’t endure Dunn much longer if he doesn’t snap out of it.
Rios — If it weren’t for Dunn’s woes, Rios would be the main whipping boy. After last season we thought he figured it out, but apparently not. Hitting .212 with six homers and 20 RBIs, he’s looked lost at the plate for the most part and  it seems his offense has affected his defense. He doesn’t seem to be the same “money” centerfielder as he was last season. The good news is that he’s come alive a bit lately.
Beckham — Although it hasn’t gotten the notice–or the blame–of the others, you can make a case that Beckham is the biggest disappointment of all. In his first season (2009), when he was named Rookie of the Year by two peer groups, he was as close to a sure thing as we’ve had since the days of Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura and Jack McDowell. But he began his sophomore season in a horrific slump, came on during the summer and ended the season injured. This year, he looks like another average major league infielder, not the perennial All-Star we thought he would be. There is still time for him to get back to his “glory days,” but if it doesn’t happen it’ll be a colossal disappointment to the organization and its fan base.
On a more positive note, how about that Konerko? He’s absolutely on fire with his 21 homers, 59 RBIs, 331 BA and 1.010 OPS. Not to mention having hit HR in five consecutive games.