It actually happened. The White Sox swept a series from the Twins and at Target Field to boot.
Who would have thought this was possible after how the South Siders performed in the first eight games (1-7) this season against Minnesota and how they spit the bit against the Red Sox and Yankees?
Today was a day that the pitching, hitting and finally defense clicked harmoniously in the 7-0 whitewash. Jake Peavy pitched eight masterful innings of shutout ball, allowing only three hits while striking out six and walking no one. The Sox clubbed four homers–solo clouts by Brent Lillibridge, Paul Konerko and Alex Rios and a two-run shot by Alexei Ramirez. And the defense was flawless in the field, with an exceptional performance by Lillibridge who started his first major league game at first base.
After six losses in a row, it’s now three straight wins heading into a four-game series in Baltimore. Another bit of good news: the Sox chopped a game off of the Tigers’ division lead and trail Detroit by 5 1/2 games.
Sox Note of Note: A special tip of the cap to Rios (pictured above), who collected five hits in the last two games–hopefully a sign of things to come.
Bizarro World is when up is down, left is right and all things are opposite of the norm. Consider the Friday and Saturday White Sox-Twins games at Target Field as a case in point.
After years of being dominated by the Twinkies and entering this series 1-7 against them this season, the tables turned. It was the Sox, not the Twinkies, who had the outstanding pitching, clutch hitting, sound defense and daring play on the basepaths in the two games. And it was Minnesota which took the role of past Sox teams with less-than-stellar play. Most importantly, the South Siders came out on the winning side of the ledger, 5-3 and 6-1, and already have chalked up a rare series win against their division rivals.
The big story of last night was righty Zach Stewart, who was acquired by the Sox from Toronto in the Edwin Jackson trade. He was aggressive all night and credited with career victory No. 1 in his first Sox appearance as he pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball. Also up to the challenge were Chris Sale, Jason Frasor and Sergio Santos who shut the door after Stewart’s exit.
In the eighth, with Michael Cuddyer on third and no outs, Sale retired Jason Kubel and Jim Thome before Frasor struck out Danny Valencia to end the inning with the tying run on third. Santos pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
Sox Notes of Note: No one example can back up the Bizarro World scenario more than this: Joe Nathan, for years a closer the Sox couldn’t touch, gave up a two-run homer to Brent Lillibridge in the four-run Sox ninth…Alex Rios collected three hits while his buddy Adam Dunn struck out three more times…Despite the two victories the Sox remained at 6 1/2 games behind the Tigers, who have beaten the Royals on back-to-back nights.
After an inning and a half in last night’s game against the Twins, you could just imagine all the TVs and radios being shut off in disgust wherever White Sox fans had gathered.
The Sox blew a golden opportunity to take a sizeable lead by leaving the bases loaded after scoring just a single run in the top of the first. Then, a ground ball got through the legs of Adam Dunn at first base that paved the way for three unearned runs for Minny in the bottom half of the inning.
In the top of the second, Alejandro De Aza singled to lead off the inning, but was quickly caught stealing. Brent Morel reached on an error and Juan Pierre walked to set up a potential one-out rally. You guessed it, Alexei Ramirez grounded out and Paul Konerko popped out to the shortstop. Nada.
I know what you’re thinking. We’ve seen this movie before. But for the first time in a week, there was a different ending. Thanks to two players who can’t be blamed for the team’s woes this season, Carlos Quentin and Mark Buehrle, the Sox were able to win a game, snapping their six-game slide with a 5-3 victory.
Quentin hit a pair of homers and drove in four runs while Buehrle gave up only four hits in eight innings, allowing no earned runs and lowering his ERA to 3.04.
The Zach Stewart Era Begins Tonight
When minor leaguer Zach Stewart was recently acquired along with proven reliever Jason Fraser in the Edwin Jackson/Mark Teahen trade, Kenny Williams made it clear that Stewart would be in the major leagues before the end of the season.
The comment was somewhat surprising, but the 24-year-old righthander did make three major league starts in June before he was sent back to AA New Hampshire.
The future is now–as in tonight–for Stewart, who will take the mound for the Sox against Carl Pavano and the Twins with Jake Peavy being moved back to Sunday. It’ll be a challenge for the former high draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds as Pavano has had his way with the South Siders this season.
To make room for Stewart, the Sox designated reliever Brian Bruney for assignment.
The way I look at it, we were due to win a game when the opposition commits three errors, including a misplayed flyball that scored a pair of runs (by Ezequiel Carerra, shown above).
The result? Sox 4, Tribe 2.
With the offense still far from where we need it to be, the good news continues to be the Pale Hose pitching–especially the bullpen, where Jesse Crain, Chris Sale and Sergio Santos followed a solid performance by Edwin Jackson and pitched flawless relief.
The Sox have now won six of seven from the Indians this season, a rare winning record against a division foe. But as thrilled as we might be about winning two in Cleveland and moving to within 2 1/2 of the second-place Tribe, the next 13 games could very well tell the story of our season.
Starting tomorrow night, it’s three against the Tigers, three vs. the Red Sox and four against the Yankees at the Cell. Then it’s on to Minnesota to face the Twins for three.
We should know a whole lot more about where we’re headed after the matinee against the Twinkies on Sunday, August 7.
Like you, I’ll be watching on the edge of my seat.
Headline: White Sox shut out Indians, 3-0.
Last night’s game began like so many others as the Sox stranded seven runners in the first three innings. Witnessing that familiar phenomenon, it was a “throw up your hands in disgust” moment for me, especially since it appeared that Ozzie’s rant in Kansas City had absolutely no effect on the troops.
But the South Siders overcame the slow start out of the blocks with a second straight post-All-Star Game gem by Gavin Floyd and a three-run homer by Carlos Quentin to go 4-3 on the road trip.
The win is certainly cause for cautious optimism, but not celebration–yet. There’s still two more games in Cleveland, then a stretch where the Sox will host the Tigers (3), Red Sox (3) and Yankees (4) before heading to Minnesota (3). And our offense is still far from clicking. Case in point: Quentin, with three, has the only Sox homers since the break.
Where do we go from here? One day at a time.
It’s a perfect time to get away from White Sox baseball.
After breaking the long losing streak to the Twins yesterday, the Sox went down today, 6-3. Not only couldn’t they touch a pitcher by the name of Anthony Swarzak, but they were beaten by an offense that boasted the likes of Jason Repko, Drew Butera, Rene Tosoni and Tsuyoshi Nishioka. That’s right, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Delmon Young and Denard Span all were out of action and we still lost the series.
The good news is that our club is filled with good citizens. But right now, while we’re still at least mathematically in the division race, we need someone inside the clubhouse (other than Ozzie) to get tough with a team that has underachieved miserably all season. Frankly, when the Sox play teams like Detroit, Cleveland and Minnesota they look lifeless in comparison and are routinely outplayed in the fundamentals.
Somebody, please, step up with a wake up call. And how about we begin to turn things around vs. the Tigers on Friday? Because if our mindset doesn’t change soon, we’re sunk for sure.