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.
After 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
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.
I 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.
The Heroes: A.J. congratulates Sale after the rookie recorded the save.
The White Sox team that lost the last three games of the now-completed 10-game road trip didn’t come close to resembling the club that won the first seven in Cleveland and Boston.
Subpar pitching, leaky defense and a silent offense plagued the South Siders in the final three games in Motown as the trip ended with a 6-3 Pale Hose loss to the Tigers. A 7-3 road trip is usually cause for celebration, but not after you’ve lost three in a row at the tail end and the team you’re chasing refuses to lose and has now built a six-game cushion.
Based on how they’ve played the past three days, the Sox just seem like they’re exhausted from the chase–both the run up to the All-Star Game when they took the A.L. Central lead and again this past week when The Good Guys played exemplary ball during the winning streak.
It’s deflating for sure, but give the Sox credit for staying alive up until this point, especially after their horrendous start. Remember, most of us thought we were out of it in May–at least they made the summer a enjoyable and competitive one.
And though time is running out, maybe a miracle will happen as the White Sox head back to Chicago.
Our impressive seven-game winning streak came to abrupt end tonight with the lopsided
9-1 loss to the Tigers. Even if Freddy Garcia hadn’t left the game after two innings because of his troublesome back, the White Sox weren’t going to defeat Justin Verlander (above) on this particular night. Let’s just chalk it up to the law of averages and move on to tomorrow.
We also came to the realization–again–that the Twins aren’t going to lose many games, especially at home against teams like the Royals. They clobbered KC again tonight to
move 4 1/2 games ahead of the Sox.
It was September Call-Up Night at Comerica Park
Because of the blowout and Garcia’s injury, the South Siders emptied their bullpen and bench tonight with a host of September call-ups–Lucas Harrell, Carlos Torres, Gregory Infante, Alejandro De Aza, Brent Morel, Tyler Flowers and Dayan Viciedo.
The White Sox did it again this afternoon in a 5-4 victory over the Tigers in 10 innings. Coming from behind on three separate occasions, including tying the score 4-4 in the eighth and scoring the winning run in the 10th, the South Siders won their seventh straight without a loss on this road trip.
Chris Sale, in relief of Edwin Jackson with one out in the eighth, pitched 2 2/3 perfect innings to record his first major league win. A.J. Pierzynski, who has seemingly found his groove, collected two hits and three RBIs. As for Manny Ramirez, he pounded out three singles, including what represented the winning run. Alejandro De Aza, who came in to pinch-run for Manny, actually scored the 10th inning tally on Pierzynski’s single to left, which put The Good Guys over the top for good.
The Sox showed a great deal of versatility in the win. Pulling out all stops, a group of non-starters–De Aza, Brent Lillibridge, Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez–all saw action and five players found themselves in multiple roles–Omar Vizquel (SS-3B), De Aza (PR-DH), Mark Teahen (3B-1B), Lillibridge (PR-CF), Rios (PH-CF), A. Ramirez (PH-SS).
Same Old Story: The Sox win…and so do the Twins. What else is new? Despite the winning streak, the Pale Hose still remain 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota.
Time will tell whether or not the White Sox will overtake the Twins and go to the postseason. Regardless of the outcome, it’s been a treat to watch this team from the point in early June that they made their move.
These guys just won’t quit. Because of their extraordinary intestinal fortitude, maybe we should call them the Cojones Kids (please see a Spanish dictionary for details if you’re not familiar with the term).
On this road trip alone–where they now find themselves 6-0–there were a pair of late-inning three run-homers (A.J.Pierzynski and Paul Konerko) and a close-to-a-miracle 11th inning shot by Brent Lillibridge in Cleveland and the amazing comeback this afternoon in Boston. This, after the impressive doubleheader sweep yesterday.
Down 5-3 heading to the top of ninth today against the Red Sox’s Jonathan Papelbon, here’s what happened on a beautiful day in Beantown. Please note that all the scoring came after two were out.
–-Omar Vizquel flied out to center.
—Alex Rios walked.
—Andruw Jones, batted for Konerko. With Jones at bat, Rios steals second. Jones called out on strikes.
—Carlos Quentin doubled to center, Rios scored. Red Sox, 5-4. Brent Lillibridge ran for Quentin.
—Ramon Castro singled to center, Lillibridge scored. Score tied at 5-5.
—Alexei Ramirez walked, Castro to second.
—Dustin Richardson replaced Papelbon for Boston.
—Mark Teahen walked, Castro to third, A. Ramirez to second. Robert Manuel replaced Richardson.
—Gordon Beckham walked, Teahen to second, A. Ramirez to third, Castro scored. White Sox lead 6-5.
—Juan Pierre walked. A. Ramirez scored, Beckham to second, Teahen to third. Sox, 7-5.
–Vizquel lined out, making his second out of the inning.
And Matt Thornton, in his first appearance since coming off of the DL, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the save as the Pale Hose remain 3 1/2 games behind the Twins, who finished the sweep at home vs. Texas.
What a day–and now on to Detroit for four.
The Quentin Factor: There were many heroes in today’s glorious comeback win. Count Quentin as one of the biggest ones, as he went 3 for 5 with a pair of RBIs including a key one during the ninth inning uprising. CQ is beginnning to heat up and that can mean only good things for the South Siders.
Note of the Day: The Good Guys were a huge threat on the basepaths today with a total of six stolen bases, paced by Rios whose three thefts gives him 32 on the season. Only Pierre, with a league-leading 54, has more this season in a White Sox uniform.