Tagged: Royals

Ozzie on Warpath as Sox Head to Cleveland

I wrote yesterday that unless there was something new to write about, I would wait until there was.

My hope was that I could blog today about the start of a Sox turnaround. As we all know, that didn’t happen last night as the Sox dropped a disheartening 2-1, 11-inning decision to the Royals–but something fresh and new did occur. There are a whole slew of critical comments from Ozzie, many of which reflect the disappointment and and frustration of White Sox Nation.

Here’s a sampling:

*  “(Bleeping) pathetic. No (bleeping) energy. We just go by the motions. We take the day off instead of (Thursday).”

*  “One day we’re good, three days we’re bad. We don’t have energy in the dugout. A horse (bleep) approach at the plate for the 90th time.”

*  “If we go to Cleveland and play the way we did in Kansas City, it’s going to be a (bleeping), dead-(bleep) July. That’s very bad. We’re wasting our money on this club if we go to Cleveland the way we were here.”

*  “That’s the team we have all year long. I talk (trash) because what I see. That’s all is see. Nothing against the Kansas City pitching staff. The way we go about our business here, horse (bleep).

I think you get the picture.

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.”

An Early Look at the “Others” in the A.L. Central

baseball-caps-american-league-central-division-main.jpgThe White Sox go into the upcoming season as one of the favorites to win the A.L. Central, but it’s not going to be a cakewalk. The Tigers have improved, the Twins have lost a number of key components but are always strong and the Indians and Royals seem to be making strides as well.

The following is a thumbnail rundown of the Sox’s Central opponents and how they’re constituted going into the new season–in order of their finish in 2010. As we all know, the Pale Hose finished in second place behind you know who.

Twins
Our perennial nemesis has suffered a number of key losses, primarily Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Brian Fuentes and Jon Rauch in the bullpen, second baseman Orlando Hudson, shortstop J.J. Hardy and infielder Nick Punto. But we know full well, they’ll be a contender once again. Minny still has All-Star catcher Joe Mauer, outfielders Denard Span, Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer, reliever Matt Capps, re-signed DH Jim Thome and starter Carl Pavano and are counting on comebacks from Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau and Pat Neshek. The Twins could get a huge boost if Japanese export Tsuyoshi Nishioka pairs up successfully with Alexei Casilla in the middle of the infield.

Tigers
C-DH Victor Martinez, reliever Joaquin Benoit and free agent outfielder Magglio Ordonez were the key additions over the winter. Along with Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation, the monster bat of first baseman Miguel Cabrera and the solid play of third baseman Brandon Inge and shortstop Jhonny Peralta, these Tigers will be growling. Detroit is also counting on a young group headed by outfielders Austin JacksonBrennan Boesch and Ryan Rayburn and second baseman Will Rhymes. A comeback by reliever Joel Zumaya would also be a key factor in their run at the division title.

Indians
The Tribe has a long way to go and were silent over the winter in terms of major acquistions. Cleveland appears to have a young, improving pitching staff with folks like Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson and Carlos Carrasco, and some good young players like shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, first baseman Matt LaPorta, outfielder Michael Brantley and arguably their best player, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. A big question mark centers around erstwhile star centerfielder Grady Sizemore and if he recovers from his injury problems. Based on the current roster, it’s improbable that they could gain on the Sox, Twins and Tigers in the standings.

Royals
We’ve been waiting a long time, but it finally appears as if KC is on its way with several blue-chip prospects. In fact, six of MLB.com’s Top Prospects are in the Royals system. Part of this youth movement has come from the Zack Greinke trade, which brought the likes of shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress. Other “can’t missers” include first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and hurler Mike Montgomery. That’s the good news. The bad news is that odds are that very few, if any, will make an impact in 2011. In the meantime,  the Royals will have to count on a group of players led by Billy Butler in the field and starter Luke Hochevar and closer Joakim Soria on the mound to get them out of the cellar. Their odds to escape aren’t very good.

White Sox Come Off the Mat to Defeat Royals, Critical Twins Series Starts Tuesday

56119033.jpgAfter the scoreboard flashed the Twins’ five-run first inning in Cleveland and the Royals put a six spot on the board before the Sox came to bat at the Cell, it seemed like it was time to fly the white flag for the 2010 White Sox.
However, like they have so many times this season the South Siders showed amazing resiliency today and not only overcame the large deficit but in the end even doubled K.C.’s total with an impressive 12-6 triumph.
By the fourth inning the Sox had tied the score at 6-6, powered by a pair of two-run home runs by MVP candidate Paul Konerko. They finished the job with six runs in the sixth, highlighted by Andruw Jones‘ first career pinch-hit grand slam. 
Paulie’s 3 for 4 day, with the two homers, five RBI and three runs scored, have given him these gaudy statistics through Sunday’s games: a .322 BA, 36 roundtrippers, 104 RBI and nearly a .400 on base percentage.
The Hose remain six games in back of Minnesota, who today finished off the Tribe, 6-2. It’s now showdown time starting Tuesday as the Sox and Twins meet in a three-game series in Chicago. It’s hard to imagine that we can sweep the Twinkies and even if we do, we’ll still be three games behind. But that’s why they play the games.
Here are the pitching matchups:
Tuesday: John Danks vs. Francisco Liriano
Wednesday: Gavin Floyd vs. Brian Duensing
Thursday: Mark Buehrle vs. Carl Pavano


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Sox Lose…Twins Win…Hopes Dashed

I admit it, there are times when I’m a hopeless optimist. One of those times was Friday night after the 4-3 comeback victory vs. K.C. The combination of the Sox win and Twins loss, which narrowed the Minnesota lead to five games, put me in a good frame of mind.

Here was my pie-in-the-sky thinking: Maybe the Sox would sweep the Royals, the Indians could do the same against the Twinkies and then the stage would be set for a dramatic three-game series against the Twins next week at the Cell. We would sweep and all would be right with the world.
Not so much. 
The results so far have been quite the opposite. The South Siders were out of last night’s 8-2 defeat from the very beginning and–you can’t make this up–the Twins were shut out for more than two full games in Cleveland before a 12th inning Jim Thome homer gave them a 1-0 victory to go up six games on the Sox.
I’m not going to throw in the towel yet, but the biggest puzzle of 2010 for me is the Pale Hose inability to dominate the teams they should beat in the division. The Royals, the Tribe, the Tigers. We know our m.o. against the Twins, but we’ve come to expect it.
Adding insult to injury, did you notice the only player mentioned in my blog today? It’s the guy who has come back to haunt us and emerged as a major factor as to why we’re in the mess we’re in.
Yep, it’s Gentleman Jim.
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A.J., Rookie Phenom Sale Come to the Rescue

56092570.jpgI have to be honest, I had the blog pretty much thought out in my head last night. It went something like this, with a definite hint of exasperation: Offense silent as Sox fall to lowly Royals in first game at the Cell after 11-day road trip…Lose for fourth straight time…Miss opportunity for a chance to gain on the Twins, who are shut out in Cleveland.

That, of course, was before the eighth inning heroics which saw A.J. Pierzynski power a two-out double into the gap in right-center (above), driving in the tying and eventual winning runs for the 4-3 victory over K.C. It just goes to show that, once again, these Sox keep coming back with their remarkable resiliency.

Prior to Pierzynski’s clutch two-bagger, the only offense the South Siders could muster was Brent Morel‘s first major league home run, slammed over the 400-foot sign in centerfield. Other than that it was the same-old, same-old that we saw the past three days in Detroit.

So, what could have been a devastating blow turned out to be a most welcome glimmer of hope. The Minnesota lead is still a commanding five games, but it was the first time the Hose gained a game in the standings since August 24. That fact is even more amazing in that we won seven in a row during that stretch. 

Along with Pierzynski’s key hit, the most satisfying moment of the game was the performance of rookie Chris Sale, who impressively chalked up his second save. With veterans like Bobby Jenks, Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz, it’s pretty mind-boggling that a kid who was pitching in college just a few months ago is our most reliable arm out of the pen. With all the blown saves, injuries and spotty performances, he’s been a godsend.
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         The Heroes: A.J. congratulates Sale after the rookie recorded the save.


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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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