It’s been a long time coming, but the White Sox reached the .500 mark today with a nail-biting 1-0 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley for their fourth straight win. Phil Humber (above), who has been nothing short of extraordinary all season, chalked up his eighth win in seven innings of work. The season’s most pleasant surprise outpitched Matt Garza, who went all the way in the loss.
The South Siders went hitless for five innings before the red-hot Juan Pierre (who else?) collected the first Sox hit and drove in their lone run in the same at bat in the sixth.
With Sergio Santos having pitched three days in a row, Matt Thornton was called upon to preserve the shutout. He did, hurling two perfect frames for his third save. Another spectacular performance by a bullpen that has been nothing less than spectacular in recent days.
Nothing’s perfect, though, and if an Adam Dunn resurgence is forthcoming it’s going to have to wait. Dunn, playing in right field in place of Carlos Quentin, struck out three times. It seems his nightmare is never going to end.
Sox win 4 of first 5 against the Cubs to win Crosstown Cup with 1 game to go.
Suddenly, the underachieving White Sox offense is showing some resilience and the ability to come from behind–as we all know, a must for any team with championship aspirations.
Wednesday in Denver they scored a run in the ninth to escape with a 3-2 triumph. Thursday, they rebounded from being down 4-1 to beat the Rockies, 6-4, and today at Wrigley against the Cubs, they turned a 4-2 deficit to another satisfying 6-4 victory with a four-run seventh inning.
Juan Pierre provided game-winning heroics for the second day in a row with a two-run triple that plated the fifth and six runs in the seventh. It followed Alexei Ramirez‘s two-run shot that tied the score at four.
For the first time this season, Sergio Santos appeared for a third day in a row after stellar relief stints by Brian Bruney in the seventh and Jesse Crain in the eighth. The result? Santos’s third save in as many chances and No. 18 on the year. It can’t be emphasized enough what a godsend Santos has been, especially after Matt Thornton‘s early season meltdown. He’s performed at an All-Star level in only his third season as a pitcher. Pretty amazing.
A victory tomorrow on the South Side and the Pale Hose are at .500.
For a while it looked like…well, it looked like the same movie we’ve seen a million times. Pitching that keeps us in the game and wasted opportunities by an underachieving offense.
But today, in the rubber game of the series vs. the Rockies, it was a different theme. It was, in short, a satisfying come-from-behind extra inning 6-4 victory. A far cry from the tough and controversial loss in the opener.
Down 4-1 heading into the seventh inning, the Sox scored one in the seventh, two in the eighth to tie the game and two in the 10th to take the lead. Sergio Santos pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save. He was preceded by starter Jake Peavy, who settled down after allowing a three-run, first inning homer to Troy Tulowitzki, and Will Ohman, Chris Sale and Jesse Crain, who each pitched a scoreless inning.
Two of the most maligned White Sox were today’s heroes. Juan Pierre went 3 for 5 with three RBI, including the single that bounced off the right field wall to score the fifth and sixth runs in the 10th. Gordon Beckham went 3 for 3 with a walk, homered and drove in a pair.
Sox are now 40-42 and remain four games in back of the division lead as they head into Wrigley tomorrow for a three-game series with you know who.
Admit it, you were asking yourself the same question I was asking myself in the ninth inning of today’s series finale against the A’s: Is it possible that Sergio Santos will blow two 5-3 leads in the ninth in the same series?
Thankfully the answer is no, but it wasn’t easy. The Sox closer escaped a heap full of self-induced trouble with the benefit of a favorable call to end the game as Sox nemesis Coco Crisp was called out on a bang-bang play at first, stranding the tying and lead runs.
For the middle of June, there was a lot at stake today. The win shaped the following headlines:
* The Sox are now only 3 1/2 games behind the A.L. Central lead as the pacesetting Tigers and Indians both lost.
* The South Siders moved to within two games of the .500 mark with the 6-4 homestand and are 33-35 as they head to Minnesota and Phoenix. A far cry from where we were a few weeks ago.
* Phil Humber, the find of the year, won his sixth game with yet another fine outing.
* Adam Dunn‘s three-run homer, his seventh, was a sight to behold.
* Like Dunn, it looks like Matt Thornton, who pitched a scoreless, hitless eighth, has turned things around.
It was a tailor-made victory–or so it seemed. Bottom of the ninth, closer Sergio Santos on the mound, a two-run lead, two outs, nobody on base, two strikes on the batter.
But Santos, in only his third year as a professional pitcher and first as a closer, showed his inexperience at handling the pressure. He had a meltdown of gigantic proporations.
Three walks, a hit batsman, a single and a bases-clearing double later, the comfortable 5-3 lead turned into a 7-5 Oakland advantage as Santos (shown above sitting alone with his thoughts after being taken out of the game) gave way to Lucas Harrell to record the final out of the Oakland ninth. And the Sox went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
Short memories are important for closers and fans alike, but this one stings just a little bit more than usual. The Sox failed to capitalize on the fact that both the Indians and Tigers lost. They didn’t let sleeping dogs lie in the form of the A’s, who broke a 10-game losing streak and now may be ready to turn things around at the Sox expense the next two days. Santos, who has been such a breath of fresh air as the closer, has now had his second straight bad outing. And the South Siders relinquished any hope of reaching the .500 mark on this homestand and are now four games under and an even 4-4 since returning to the Cell after their last 10-game road trip.
For all of our sakes let’s hope Sergio’s memory is shorter than mine.
We knew that Sergio Santos‘s 0.00 ERA and perfect won-loss and save records wouldn’t last forever, we just didn’t know when the party would end.
Now we do.
In last night’s heartbreaking, extra-inning 6-4 loss to the Dodgers, the walls came tumbling down for Santos and the Sox. The closer gave up a two-out, top of the ninth homer to L.A. third baseman Russ Mitchell that tied the game and surrendered three more runs in the 10th before giving way to Will Ohman.
The result: The Sox drop to nine games behind the Indians, six games below .500 and Santos is now 2-1 with a still outstanding ERA of 1.69.
Santos or no Santos, the Pale Hose offense continues to baffle. Gordon Beckham’s second inning two-run blast was a welcome sight, but he just might not be the player we thought he was. Adam Dunn has delivered occasionally, but his power numbers have been disappointing and he’s hitting below .200. Alex Rios gets a hit once in a while, but he’s not doing what we need him to do. Same goes for Juan Pierre and Alexei Ramirez. If the Sox are going to be a serious postseason contender, we need to snap out of it. Today, if possible.
Sox Note of Note: Mike McDougal, who failed so miserably in a White Sox uniform, recorded the save last night for the Dodgers. Am I the only one who is amazed he’s still on a major league roster?
The duo of Brent Morel and Dallas McPherson (pictured above) is a far cry from the powerful twosomes of Mantle and Maris, Mays and McCovey and even Mauer and Morneau. But at least for one night, one of the most unlikely M & M combos you’ll ever see provided plenty of excitement and set the stage for the much-needed White Sox victory.
For the first half of last night’s game against the Rangers, the formula looked very familiar. Subpar pitching, sloppy defense and the inability to capitalize offensively. It seemed like the same uninspired, lethargic team we’ve seen so often in this young season.
Then, the strangest thing happened. In the bottom of the fifth, Morel tied the game at three with a three-run blast for his first homer of the season. If that wasn’t rare enough, McPherson, the one-time Angel phenom who was just called up from Charlotte to replace DL-bound Mark Teahen, delivered a clutch single up the middle in the eighth that sent Gordon Beckham to third. Just moments later, Beckham scored the eventual game-winner on a wild pitch and Sergio Santos recorded his sixth save in as many opportunities. His ERA remains at 0.00 with 16 consecutive scoreless innings spanning over 20 innings.
It was nice to see Morel come through and Santos continue his streak. But you have to be the happiest for the hard luck McPherson, who certainly stopped to smell the roses after the game.
“Yeah, that definitely was a great moment,” he said. ” It was nice to get that one out of the way. I was looking for something to hook in the four-hole. I miscalculated the sink a little bit, and I kind of got lucky it went over the middle.”
For the record, Dallas’s last major league hit was in September, 2008 with the Marlins.