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.
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.
It was another White Sox explosion tonight as the South Siders crushed four home runs in a 9-5 victory over the Mariners. It concluded a four-game sweep over Seattle and moved The Good Guys to a game and a half in front of the red-hot Twins.
Ramon Castro connected for a pair of roundtrippers and Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin hit back-to-back blows in the seventh to cinch the victory.
Freddy Garcia bounced back from his disastrous last start and pitched six solid innings to win his 10th game of the season.
A weekend series with the A’s is up next.
My company is running a sports career event this week in New York, where high school and college students from around the country are touring NY area sports venues like Yankee Stadium, Red Bull Arena, Madison Square Garden and Citi Field and hearing from sports business leaders.
One of the stops we made on Wednesday was the MLB Network where we posed for pictures in one of the dugouts at Studio 42, named after Jackie Robinson.
It’s something White Sox fans certainly didn’t want to happen, but the truth is that the South Siders were due to be on the losing side of a blowout as they were this afternoon in
Oakland. You never like a loss, but this one is a whole lot easier to take than the recent walk-off defeats. I bet even Ozzie would agree with me.
For the record, the last time the Sox lost by as many as five runs was on June 8 in a 7-2 loss at the hands of the Tigers at the Cell. The last time they lost this badly was four days earlier in a 10-1 drubbing by the Indians, also in Chicago.
Since then, there have been the 11 and nine game winning streaks and the Sox have consistently battled and played close games in the losses. So today’s 10-2 result was rare indeed.
Freddy Garcia, the ace of the staff most of this season, was dreadful for a change as he got yanked in the second inning after giving up five runs, six hits and three walks. The only offensive highlight in our four-hit attack was a two-run homer by Ramon Castro which tied the game at 2-2 in the second inning. It was all downhill from there.
The Sox, with Daniel Hudson on the mound, will attempt to win the series against the A’s tomorrow and finish the 10-game Minnesota, Seattle and Oakland road trip at .500.
I have to admit that my blood pressure reached scary levels after the first inning last night as Jake Peavy was the victim of a three-run Royal splurge that included a walk and a hit batsman. All I could think about was losing back-to-back games to the Royals and losing the opportunity to gain on the Twins, who lost earlier in the day to the Yanks.
But the South Siders showed some grit and overcame a 4-1 with a four-run seventh to win 5-4. Aside from the rare comeback itself, there were some positive signs. Among them:
–The way that Peavy rebounded after the shaky start. After giving up four runs through three innings, he pitched scoreless ball into the ninth for this third victory of the season.
—Juan Pierre collected a pair of hits and raised his average to .254. Not exactly on par with Rod Carew, but we’ll take it after Juan’s subpar start.
—Alexei Ramirez (above) was 3 for 4 with an RBI, upping his average to .231. Puny, but improving.
—Ramon Castro got his first hit of the season and drove in a pair of runs in the pivotal seventh inning.
—Matt Thornton got the save after relieving Peavy with one out in the ninth.
Now the hard part–winning today to capture the series.
It’s days like these that make me cranky. A 12-3 drubbing by the Yankees will do that to a guy. To make matters worse, after the gritty comeback yesterday the Sox looked like they were more interested in heading back to Chicago than winning the series in New York.
I’ve been hearing from Sox friends and others today with various comments. Since I’m on board with many of their thoughts, I’ve incorporated them with mine in the following opinions and observations.
* I’m not happy that the Sox have won only one series so far this year as part of their miserable 10-15 start.
* I’m not happy that today’s lackluster performance has given holier-than-thou Yankee fans and others the fodder to rip us. By the way, how does Kenny Williams feel about his goal of a championship after the first 25 games?
* I’m not happy that Alexei Ramirez hasn’t taken a step forward. He’s always a slow starter at the plate, but how about his brain cramps at short? Wasn’t Omar Vizquel supposed to help?
* I’m not happy about Gordon Beckham‘s start, but I have confidence he’ll be fine before too long.
* I’m not happy with our farm system. So, where’s the help we need?
* I’m not happy about Mark Teahen. He doesn’t look like the answer. Granted, he’s not Robin Ventura or Joe Crede, but I thought he was better than this.
* I’m not happy that Juan Pierre has been demoted to the ninth spot in the order and Scott Podsednik is on fire for the Royals.
* I’m not happy that Clayton Richard is outpitching Jake Peavy.
* I’m not happy with our bullpen. Maybe it’s time for a couple of changes. No, Ramon Castro being reinstated from the DL and Donny Lucy being sent down doesn’t count
* I’m not happy that the Twins look unbeatable in the AL Central.
Yes, I’m really unhappy.
This team definitely needs a kick-start
I guess we should be happy to leave Toronto with a split, but I was hoping for more. Freddy wasn’t ready, the offense reverted to its “first week” form and the Sox lost the chance to win the series and leave Canada with a .500 record. On to Cleveland for, hopefully, better results.
I have to say that the 7-3 defeat Thursday night had a very special moment. Backup catcher Donny Lucy, the Sox player who was forced to endure scooping up my spring training ceremonial first pitch out of the dirt, hit his first career home run (pictured above). The 27-year-old, who has bounced around the minors for six seasons with only a cup of coffee in the bigs (2007), had no chance to make the team this spring until Ramon Castro was put on the DL. All he’s done in his brief action is hit .500–and now a homer. Great story.
The Sox were “get away day” flat, but Lucy’s homer lifted my spirits.
More good news: In addition to Lucy’s solo blast, there was another big positive in the Sox defeat. Four relievers–Randy Williams, Sergio Santos, J.J. Putz and Scott Linebrink–combined for five scoreless innings and 12 strikeouts after Garcia faltered.