As the raindrops deluged Progressive Field and the Sox-Tribe game was postponed, I had no other choice but to turn my attention to the AL Central pennant race as much as it hurts not to be in the middle of it.
After the Twins 10-inning victory in Game 1 of the doubleheader, I was convinced they would win the nightcap and create a tie for the division lead. But it didn’t happen and the Tigers now have a cautiously comfortable two-game lead. A win tonight would pretty much give them the title and, of course, a win tonight and tomorrow would clinch it.
If Detroit does go into the weekend series with the Sox still needing to clinch, it would be nice if the Sox rose to the occasion and, as foreign as it may seem, help out the Twins. Not because it’s the Twins, but rather it would give the South Siders something to play for and the fans something to root for.
Torres, Buehrle take hill in twinbill
It will be Carlos Torres vs. Fausto Carmona and Mark Buehrle vs. Justin Masterton in tonight’s traditional doubleheader in Cleveland…If you’re like me, you’ll be focusing on Gordon Beckham and his quest for Rookie of the Year honors. I’d love him to really break out over the final five games.
It’s been a couple days of firsts for the Sox. On Sunday, rookie righty Daniel Hudson won his first major league game and last night, in his 90th start, John Danks pitched the first complete game of his career. Danks was superb, giving up only a run and three hits with seven K’s in the 6-1 triumph over the Tribe in Cleveland.
Offensively, it was Gordon Beckham and the Junior Varsity that did the damage. Beckham, hoping to make a final surge toward the AL Rookie of the Year award, was 2 for 5, including his 27th double, and had three RBI. He’s now hitting .272 with 63 RBI–all of it since his call-up on June 4.
Beckham’s performance wasn’t a surprise, but the production of the bench players replacing the likes of Pods, A.J., Alexei and Jermaine, was. DeWayne Wise was 2 for 4 with an RBI; Josh Fields was 2 for 4 with a walk and a run scored; Tyler Flowers was 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored; and Brent Lillibridge was 2 for 3 with a walk, run scored and an RBI.
Eliminated or not, a win is a win. Five more and we’re a .500 ballclub.
We all know that it’s been a season to forget on the South Side, but our spirits were raised a bit this afternoon with the South Siders’ 8-4 triumph over the first-place Tigers. Today’s win and the series victory showed there is still some life in the Sox with six games left in this lost season. It just could be that the troops took Ozzie’s Saturday tirade to heart.
Unfortunately, last night’s blown 5-0 lead and eventual 12-5 loss to the Tigers was pretty typical of how things have gone for the Sox this season.
Forget that the Sox were eliminated from the AL Central race last night. It was fun again at the Cell this evening as three keys to the team’s potential 2010 success rose to the occasion as the South Siders shut out the Tigers, 2-0, despite collecting just two hits.
No matter how bad things get, you can always find a silver lining. With the Sox officially eliminated from playoff contention after last night’s Tigers victory, let’s pick ourselves off the mat and look at some positives:
* Remember July 23. Mark Buehrle’s perfect game and DeWayne Wise’s spectacular catch to save it.
* Sox fans got a glimpse of a hopeful future in rookies Gordon Beckham, Chris Getz, Daniel Hudson and Jayson Nix.
* We saw 2005 World Series heroes Scott Podsednik and Freddy Garcia return from oblivion. Pods was better than ever as the club’s igniter from the leadoff spot and Garcia showed he can still pitch in the major leagues after an injury and a horrible spring with the Mets.
* The Sox faithful enjoyed a terrific year from A.J. Pierzynski, who has been above .300 despite carrying the load behind the plate.
* We have a lot to look forward to in regard to next year’s starting pitching with Jake Peavy, Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd and John Danks. It’s too earlier to predict the fifth starter, but you have to think both Garcia and Hudson have a shot.
* It’s not unrealistic to think that some of this year’s top farmhands could have an impact next season. Tyler Flowers has gotten a cup of coffee this month and there’s a chance he could make the 2010 club as the backup catcher and sometime DH. It’s uncertain whether or not the likes Dayan Viciedo and Jordan Danks will reach the majors next year, but hopefully they are not too far away.
* Matt Thornton proved to be one of the top relievers in the game from his setup role. Whether or not he’s our closer in 2010, he’ll be an anchor in a pen that will certainly undergo a facelift over the winter.
* I’m looking for big things from Alex Rios next year, both offensively and defensively. I think it would be a mistake to write him off based on his performance with the Sox thus far.
These positives, along with the anticipated moves by Kenny Williams, should make us feel we’ll be a whole lot sounder baseball team next year–and a legimate contender.
As reported, Kenny Williams addressed the media yesterday. The bad news is that he underscored his earlier pronouncement that the Sox have been “underachievers” in 2009. The good news is that he’s got a plan to improve the team in 2010.
Some, like me, agree with KW that this team on paper is much better than they have performed. Others feel that it was a flawed team from the start. The bottom line is that the season has been a major disappointment after last year’s thrilling race-to-the-finish division title.
Here are Williams’ key observations from yesterday’s State of the White Sox press conference:
* More emphasis will be placed on defense. The outfield defense, in particular, will improve with Carlos Quentin returning in good health and Alex Rios manning centerfield for an entire season.
* The Sox are in need of players who have high on-base percentages and deliver more extra-base hits.
* Regarding the acquisitions of Rios, Jake Peavy and Mark Kotsay, Williams said he “would not take back in any way, shape or form.”
* He would not address whether Bobby Jenks will be in a Sox uniform next year.
* Concerning the acquisition of free agents, he said: “We were willing to go that extra mile if we have that fit for us.” But he added it might be difficult economically and the prospect of losing a high 2010 draft pick.
* Williams said he knows who’s quit and who has not, but would not mention any names.
Word is that Kenny Williams will address the media before tonight’s game against the Twins. Despite the Sox performance on the field this season, my motto is still “In Kenny We Trust.” To me, he’s done all the right things to help the team win. Unfortunately the players didn’t keep their end of the bargain.
If I were at his press conference, here’s what I’d ask him:
* What has been your biggest disappointment?
* What will be your priorities in the offseason? Power bats? Bullpen? Upgrading the defense? And do you feel there’s a lot to do or just some significant tweaking?
* The Sox can boast about having as many “good guys” as any team in baseball. That said, without getting away from that sound philosophy is there a need to change the chemistry a bit?
* Will the bullpen be reorganized and what are the chances of Bobby Jenks being back in a Sox uniform? If not, can Matt Thornton be counted on in the closer’s role?
* Did Scotty Pods do enough in ’09 to warrant bringing him back?
* Did Jermaine Dye’s second half ensure he will be elsewhere in 2010?
* How do you explain Alex Rios’ horrendous Sox debut? Do you still have faith he’ll be the player you thought he can be?
* Are you confident that Carlos Quentin can rebound from his injuries and get back to 2008 form?
* Paul Konerko will be in the last year of his contract. Is there any chance he’ll be dealt?
*What is your assessment of Ozzie’s performance this season?
Whatever questions will be asked at the presser I think we can be sure KW will tell it like it is. He didn’t exactly have the best summer of his life.
White Sox fans reached a boiling point at the Cell last night as they heartily booed their beloved South Siders, who lost a 7-0 decision to the Twins. The defeat gave the Sox the dubious distinction of being shut out a major league-leading 13 times this season.
Frankly, I have run out of explanations of how a team with such established major league hitters can perform this way. It’s especially hard to understand when you look at the stats and the Sox pitching staff has the second lowest team ERA in the American League.
While Ozzie went on record basically saying he can’t blame the fans, Gordon Beckham offered his assessment.
“It’s a pretty frustrating time for the White Sox,” the rookie said. “We are just not fun to watch.”
To say the least.
Apart from Freddy Garcia’s sixth straight quality start–eight innings of two-run baseball–it was a downer at the Cell today as the Sox could only muster one run and six hits in the 2-1 loss to the last-place Royals. I don’t have to tell you that it’s a familiar scenario, but one that is still mind-boggling with the talent the South Siders have in the lineup.