July 2009

Never Underestimate Kenny Williams–Peavy Joins Sox

It was announced moments ago that the Sox finally got their man in righty Jake Peavy, sending four pitchers to the Padres–LHPs Clayton Richard and Aaron Poreda plus RHPs Dexter Carter and Adam Russell. Peavy has been on the DL with an ankle injury and apparently won’t return to the mound until late August.

Richard was scheduled to pitch tonight and word is that DJ Carrasco will make the emergency start.

A rotation of Buehrle, Danks, Floyd, Peavy and Contreras sounds awfully good to me.

Stay tuned.

A Wise Decision

When Carlos Quentin was activated from the DL recently, the big question was: Who will be the odd man out?  The most likely candidates, of course, were Dewayne Wise and Brian Anderson.

A mini-controversy arose when the Sox brass made the decision to keep Wise over Anderson despite the former’s batting average being below the Mendoza line. There was outrage among White Sox World, even ridiculous accusations of the club being racist.

My take was and is that the Sox made the right call. BA had enough chances with
the Sox and needed a fresh start. While DWise’s batting average isn’t
what we’d like, he’s a battler and proved last year he can make an
impact.

So how has the move worked out so far? Since the decision was made, Wise made one of the greatest catches in baseball history to save Mark Buehrle’s perfect game and then last night singled in the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth to beat the mighty Yankees at the Cell.

The irony of this story is that some of the criticism regarding the choice of Wise over Anderson was that BA is so superior defensively. Now that Wise’s glove is going to be in the Hall of Fame as a result of saving the perfecto, it’s safe to say he can hold his own in the outfield–don’t you think?

Note of the day:  As a life-long Sox fan living in New York for about 35 years, I’ve taken my share of ribbing. Oh, you’re from Chicago, you must be a Cubs fan. Oh, you’re a Sox fan, how about those Red Sox? Ugh. But the real ribbing has come when the Yankees have beaten up on the Pale Hose. So last night’s win was very sweet. I don’t even want to think about what today would have been like for me if we hadn’t rebounded from the Swisher homer. Thanks to DWise for his clutch hit, Gavin for his gem and AJ for his hard slide.
 

Back in the Day…

Back in the day–more specifically, a week ago today–the Sox and their fans were riding high for a number of reasons:

* President Obama had just gotten the often-ignored White Sox national exposure by wearing a Sox jacket as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the All-Star Game.

* By mid-afternoon last Thursday, word spread that Mark Buehrle had pitched his perfect game and he ultimately became a national sensation from the evening news to Letterman to the cover of SI.

*  The 5-0 victory that day, which gave the Sox a 3-out-of-4 series victory against the defending AL champion Rays, lifted the them into a virtual tie into first place with the Tigers in the AL Central.

So, all of that and some inspired play, gave Sox fans some confidence heading into Detroit and Minnesota before returning to play the red-hot Yankees and Angels at home.

But it was not to be and a week later, after a 1-6 road trip, we find ourselves in a tough situation with the brutal schedule ahead–and in third place three games back. To make matters worse, Alexei sprained his ankle last night (x-rays today) and Ozzie had some not-so-positive things to say about the state of Carlos Quentin’s health.

Obviously, a respectable performance during this homestand is vital if the Sox are to stay in the race. Looking at the situation from a glass half-full perspective, I’m hoping that returning to the Cell will help and we can rise to the challenge of playing arguably the two hottest teams in the league.

Buehrle and Some Random Sox Thoughts…

Last night’s game ended like most recent Sox-Twins game at the Twinkiedome, but Mark Buehrle’s performance took some of the sting (I said some of the sting) out of the disappointing 5-3 loss. He retired the first 17 batters he faced and set a major league record by retiring 45 consecutive batters dating back to July 18 vs the Orioles. The previous record of 41 was held by teammate Bobby Jenks and the Giants’ Jim Barr.

I won’t dwell on the details of the defeat–I’m told it’s not healthy. Instead I’ll share a few random Sox thoughts:

* Even though the loss drops us into a dead-heat with the Twins for second place, we remain only two back of first as the Tigers lose again.

* So Josh Fields, optioned to Charlotte, is the odd man out to make room for Mark Kotsay. It was the right thing to do, but unfortunate in that two past Sox No. 1 choices bit the dust yesterday–Josh and Brian Anderson, who was moved out of the organization completely and traded to Boston.

* We’ve got to get Quentin going. He’s shown some signs of coming to life, but the balls aren’t dropping in. We really need him.

* Tonight’s series finale feels like last Sunday night–a game we have to have. The four at the Cell beginning Thursday against the Yanks looms large. It would be nice to salvage one heading home.

* You’ve got to give it up for the Twins fans. Last night, after Buehle’s bid for his second straight perfecto was spoiled in the 6th inning by the walk to Alexei Casilla, Mark got a standing ovation. He got another one when he left the game.

The Brian Anderson Era is Over on the South Side

Underachieving outfielder Brian Anderson has played his last game for the Sox–the White Sox that is.

BA was traded today to the Red Sox for veteran Mark Kotsay. Kotsay will report to the Pale Hose tomorrow and it appears that Anderson will be sent to AAA Pawtucket.

This is a matter of two players who wore out their welcome with their respective teams and wanted to be dealt. My guess is that Kotsay will replace Josh Fields, who likely will be sent to Charlotte or traded by the time Kotsay reports. The newest White Sox is primarily an outfielder (and a good one at that), but has also played first. Thus, my speculation that Josh is the one to go.

A real plus for the White Sox is that Kotsay is a career .373 hitter as a pinch-hitter, an area where the club has been sorely lacking this season. And he’s the kind of “grinder’” that Kenny Williams loves.

It’s the Same Old Song…

Sox vs. Twins in the Twinkiedome. Sox take a 1-0 lead on Beckham’s homer, implode with two costly errors in the second and fall behind 2-1. Konerko’s two-run bomb gives the Sox a 3-2 advantage in the third. Cuddyer’s two-run blast in the sixth gives the Twins the lead for good at 4-3. And Perkins, Guerrier and Sox-killer Nathan post a win, hold and save, respectively.

Does all of this sound familiar?

Another disaster in Minny and very hard to watch. There’s always one inning or one play or one bizarre incident–or all three–when we play there. Last night it was the second inning, then AJ yelling at Alexei presumably over a throw to second and Ozzie getting hot over the confrontation, kicking a tub of bubble gum onto the field.

So how did yesterday’s 7 Keys to Beating the Twins hold up?

*Pretend you’re somewhere else –
There was no question we were at the Twinkiedome.

*Keep Mauer and Morneau in check — We did a great job on Mauer, who went 0-for-4. Morneau only got a single, but was on base for Cuddyer’s big blow in the sixth. By the way, Cuddyer needs to be added to the “keep in check” list. He’s hurt us many times.

*Stifle the Piranhas –
Harris, Gomez, Punto and Casilla were all right in the middle of the error-plagued second inning. Gomez’s hard takeout of Nix at second was a key play in the game.

*Beat Nathan –  Not last night. I just hope it’ll happen again in my lifetime.

*Avoid mistakes – No comment. The game speaks for itself.

*The bullpen needs to step up – Linebrink pitched a perfect eighth, but we couldn’t do anything offensively in the ninth.

*Obviously we need to score runs –  We got off to a good start, but didn’t score the last six innings. One thing to note is that we hit Perkins hard, but it seemed it was always at somebody–especially in the case of Quentin. The good news is that CQ looks like he’s close to breaking through.

The Sox, and all of us, will go at it again tonight. Just remember, only five more games in the House of Horrors–forever.

Watch “Letterman” Tonight

Compliments of Sox communications guru Scott Reifert:

The three heroes of Mark Buehrle’s historic perfect game–Mark himself, DeWayne Wise (The Catch) and Josh Fields (grand slam)–taped a segment for the David Letterman Show that will air tonight.  It’s not every day the Pale Hose get this kind of recognition so watch and enjoy!!    

7 Keys to Beating the Twins

Last night’s win in Detroit on ESPN was, more than anything, a big relief.  Two games behind the Tigers heading into Minnesota is much different than four.

What can you say about Clayton Richard? Two impressive eight-inning performances in a row. It now appears that Colon, after his fine start on Friday, is the fifth starter with Richard heading to the pen as the second lefty. That’s a tough call for Ozzie with Richard pitching so well, but it certainly could change depending on what Bartolo does in his next start or two.

Escaping Motown with the one victory, the Sox now head to the Twinkiedome hoping to reverse their recent fortunes.

Here’s one man’s keys for the Sox handling the Twins in the “House of Horrors.”

1.  Pretend you’re somewhere else –  It’s next to impossible with the turf, the white roof and baggies, but why not try?

2.  Keep Mauer and Morneau in check – Very hard to do, but we did a pretty good job the last time we were there.

3.  Stifle the Piranhas –
Span, Gomez, Punto, etc. can be deadly. Keeping them off the bases is a must.

4.  Beat Nathan – He’s been so tough on us. Wouldn’t it be nice to help him blow a couple of saves?

5.  Avoid mistakes
– The Sox need to stay away from errors, both mental and physical.

6.  The bullpen needs to step up –  The pen hasn’t been pretty as of late, but now’s the time to return to form.

7. Obviously we need to score runs — This isn’t my biggest concern, but we need to take advantage of runners in scoring position and a few home runs wouldn’t hurt the cause

Let’s do it.

Motown Meltdown

What began as a golden opportunity for the Sox to secure first place in the AL Central has turned into a nightmare. The promise of overtaking the Tigers in this weekend’s four-game series at Comerica is gone. The Sox were sitting in a virtual tie for first place yesterday, but the best they can do now is salvage the finale tomorrow night on national TV and leave Motown two games back. 

If last night’s doubleheader loss to the Tigers weren’t bad enough, the Sox rode another Bobby Jenks blown save to yet another defeat this afternoon. To make it sting a little more, Jenks was a strike away from ending the game before giving up the game-tying double to Curtis Granderson in the ninth.
While our post-All-Star Game performance has been encouraging, enough to warrant real hope for a division title, we have a huge problem if the bullpen doesn’t improve. Last night Thornton walks in the winning run. Today, Jenks gives up the tying run in the ninth, allowing three hits (following a blown save and a near blown save earlier in the week) and Carrasco has a meltdown in the 10th, also giving up three hits and a run including the game-winning single to Carlos Guillen.
Whatever happens tomorrow night, and let’s hope we can get the win, our grueling schedule continues. We’re on to the Twinkiedome for three before a four-game set at home with the Yankees. Frankly, I’d rather have a root canal.

Ouch!

The euphoria surrounding Mark Buerhle’s perfect game came to an abrupt halt tonight as the Sox dropped both ends of the day/night doubleheader against the first place Tigers. The Sox, who were in a virtual tie with Detroit before today’s games, now have to win the next two to even the series and the standings.
The first contest was just one of those games. Superb pitching performance by Verlander, a few bloop hits by the Bad Guys and most likely a hangover from yesterday’s celebration.
The second game was a model of frustration. Colon pitched much better than most of us thought (7 innings, three runs), but blown opportunities at the plate and another sub-par performance by the pen did us in. In the 8th, Linebrink got himself into a heap of trouble–which is becoming too commonplace–and the usually reliable Thornton walked in the winning run.
The perfect game followed by the twinbill loss–a great example of the highs and lows in a 162-game baseball season. I liked yesterday much better.
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