September 2009

It Is What It Is

It’s been difficult to watch the Twins playoff push knowing full well that if the Sox had played close to their collective ability we would be on top of the division or at least the ones on the march.

But it is what it is. The fact that the South Siders are 73-76, in third place 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota and 5 1/2 in back of Detroit, the Sox chances to win the AL Central are remote. The good news, though, is that nine of our 13 remaining games are against the two main rivals (three with the Twins and six with the Tigers) giving us at least a shot to gain ground.
Jake Peavy raised our spirits a bit last night with a solid five-inning performance as he made his first appearance and got his first win in a Sox uniform. The offense, non-existent lately, broke out for 13 runs on 14 hits and drew nine walks in the 13-3 triumph. Carlos Quentin led the barrage with his grand slam, five players collected two hits apiece and everyone in the lineup got at least one hit. Even Jermaine Dye and Alex Rios pounded out two hits each and Tyler Flowers joined the hit parade with his first major league knock.
It’s Freddy Garcia for the Good Guys today. Making up enough ground and leaping over 
two teams in 13 games seems pretty improbable, but let’s start the quest with winning this series with the Royals and focusing on the Twins tomorrow. Stranger things have happened.

Buehrle: Don’t Blame Ozzie

After the 2-4 road trip, which ended in a blown ninth-inning save and a 14-inning loss, Ozzie felt compelled to address the troops before last night’s contest. Included in his comments was a plea to the Sox that they play hard in the final 15 games. Following the 11-0 horror at the hands of the Royals, the pep talk obviously didn’t have any short term impact.

Since there are really no game highlights to report, I’ll let Mark Buehrle sum up Ozzie’s talk and the Sox status:
“Everyone watching us knows we are not playing good. We are not in a good spot and we put ourselves in that spot. But you can’t blame Ozzie. He’s trying to pump us up and get us going and trying to get us to play good. But it’s on the guys.”
Note of the day: It’s Jake Peavy on the mound tonight and Tyler Flowers as the DH. I’m not ready to give up on this season despite all the evidence to the contrary, but there’s no harm in looking at this as a sneak preview of 2010.

Think You’re Upset? Just Listen to Ozzie…

The details of last night’s 4-3, 14-inning loss to the Mariners are almost too painful to recall, but I’ll try.

The Sox took a 3-1 lead into the ninth after a superb eight-inning performance by John Danks and looked to win the series and gain a game on the Tigers…Not so fast, Bobby Jenks proceeded to cough up home runs to Jose Lopez and Bill Hall, blew the save and the Sox ultimately lost on an Ichiro walk-off single off of Scott Linebrink. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Jermaine Dye and Alex Rios were 0-12 between them.

OK, I got it all out. Now let’s hear from Ozzie, who had a few choice words after the game and even promised lineup changes for the series opener tonight against the Royals at the Cell:

“I’m tired and I don’t have anything…it was 2 1/2 hours of satisfaction and then 2 1/2 hours of horse (bleep) baseball. Go ask them. I don’t have any more quotes, seriously. What the (bleep) am I going to say? They’re horse (bleep)? Yes, they are…if they give up on me, then I give up on them.”

As if that’s not enough, Ozzie came out with one of his classic gems before last night’s disaster:

“This is a tease, man. “It’s like when you have a girlfriend and you are kissing her all over the place and you get to the mambo, and she says no. That’s where we are right now. That’s the way we are.”
 

Win, Lose, Win, Lose, Win, Lose…

You can say this for the White Sox–they’re consistent in their inconsistency. The Sox are 5-5 in their last 10 games, have alternated wins and losses since September 5 (including last night’s 4-1 loss in Seattle) and, if recent form holds true, will defeat the Mariners today for a 3-3 road trip. We hope.

Although the South Siders (72-74) failed once again to reach the .500 mark, they are proving to be the consummate .500 club. It would surprise no one if the Sox finished 81-81.

The offense, which has been woeful, proved to be the Achilles heel again last night in the losing effort. This was the case despite two hits apiece from Alex Rios and Jermaine Dye, who have been AWOL from any significant offensive contributions. The one highlight was Gordon Beckham’s 12th homer of the season.

If I haven’t already made my case for “.500,” is it really a coincidence that last night’s losing pitcher Gavin Floyd, who has been the ace of the staff for much of ’09, is now 11-11 on the season?

Who Are These Guys…Really?

One day up, the next day down. It’s just been that kind of season. When you think they are back on track, they falter. When you think they’re out of contention they rise to the occasion.

Ladies and Gentlemen, these are your 2009 Chicago White Sox.

As testimony, we just have to look at the last few days. A Friday loss to the Angels, a Saturday win in Anaheim, another losing effort to the Halos on Sunday and a comeback 6-3 victory last night in Seattle to move within 5 1/2 games of the Tigers. That gives us yet another chance tonight to reach the .500 mark.

Who in the heck are these guys? From what he says, I don’t think Ozzie even knows.

What we do know is that the South Siders wouldn’t be close to .500 without A.J. Pierzynski. He did it again last night with a 10-pitch at bat that resulted in him driving in two runs in the seventh, including the eventual game-winner. In all, Pierzynski went 3 for 5 with two RBI and two runs scored. With Dye and Rios non-factors and Quentin a far cry from the 2008 version, A.J.’s contributions have been key to keeping the ship afloat.

Notes of the day:  Kudos to Freddy Garcia for another solid outing last night as he picked up his second win of the season, giving up three runs and seven hits in six innings of work…The wait is almost over for Sox fans to get a glimpse of Jake Peavy. He’ll be on the mound Saturday at the Cell against the Royals. Hurrah!

Beckham in the Thick of AL “Rookie of the Year” Race

The list is certainly impressive.

Minnie Minoso, Luis Aparicio, Gary Peters, Pete Ward, Tommie Agee, Carlos May, Britt Burns, Ron Kittle and Ozzie Guillen comprise the honor roll of Sox players who have been named American League Rookie of the Year by either the Baseball Writers’ Association of America or The Sporting News.

If Sox fans controlled the voting, Gordon Beckham would unanimously join this illustrious group in ’09 and claim the team’s first rookie award since Ozzie in 1985. He has been nothing short of spectacular since being called up from Charlotte on June 4, and he’s got my support, but as good as Beckham has been he’s not a shoo-in.

As I see it, it’s a six-player race with outfielder Nolan Reimold of the Orioles, A’s closer Andrew Bailey, Tigers hurler Rick Porcello, Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero and the Rays’ Jeff Niemann rounding out my top candidates.

Here’s the comparison:

* Beckham:  In 86 games he has knocked out 87 hits, including 11 homers and 25 doubles, scored 48 runs, driven in 53 and sports a .279 batting average with an on-base percentage of .353.

* Reimold:  In 103 games he has knocked out 99 hits, including 15 homers and 18 doubles, scored 49 runs, driven in 45 and sports a .279 batting average with an on-base percentage of .365.

* Bailey:  He has compiled a 6-3 record with a 2.03 earned run average and 24 saves. He also has struck out 81 while walking only 23.

* Romero: The talented lefty has bolstered the Jays’ staff with his 12-8 record. 4.22 ERA. In 153.2 innings he has struck out 119 and given up just 68 bases on balls.

* Porcello: He is 13-8 with a 4.21 ERA and has struck out 78 while walking 45 for the AL Central-leading Tigers.

* Niemann
: He has compiled a 12-5 mark with a 3.57 ERA and has K’d 106 while walking only 50. 

For us Beckham boosters, who have seen the gifted one play every day, it’s a closer competition than we’d like. But here’s hoping that Pale Hose justice prevails.                     

Lack of Clutch Hitting a Killer–Again

You’re simply not going to win very often without some semblance of clutch hitting–even if the pitching is there. And for the umpteenth time in 2009 the Sox proved the rule with a disappointing 3-2 loss today at the hands of the Halos despite a solid seven-inning performance by Mark Buehrle.

The Sox were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base this afternoon in Anaheim. A lineup with Dye, Rios and Quentin shouldn’t consistently fail to deliver. Sadly, Jermaine and Alex have become automatic outs. Dye went 0 for 4 and is down to .251. Rios was 0 for 3 and has sunk to .242. Q drove in our two runs, but is far from the player he was a year ago, unable to regain his ’08 form after coming back from the foot injury. He’s hitting .234.
With a day off before a three-game series in Seattle, the Sox are back in third place, one-half game behind the Twins and six in back of the Tigers.
And the beat goes on…or is it off?

Can the Sox Actually Win the Division? Let’s Get to .500 and Move On From There

I know the following to be true about the Pale Hose:

Scotty Pods scored the winning run in yesterday’s 4-3 10-inning victory vs. the Angels on, of all things, a wild pitch. We’ll take it, but it was more good fortune than anything else.
* The usually reliable Matt Thornton gave up two runs in the eighth and Bobby Jenks the tying run in the ninth after John Danks pitched six scoreless innings.
* We had to rely on up and down Tony Pena to record the save with the tying run on third.
Jermaine Dye continues his horrific second-half slump with his batting average down to .253.
Alex Rios now has a mere five hits in his last 61 at bats.

* The Sox are still a game under .500 at 71-72.
All that said, I’m still feeling a bit of a positive vibe today after the Tigers lost their fifth in a row to allow the Sox to creep within five games of the lead and pull a half-game ahead of the Twins, who lost as well. Remember, we have six left with Detroit.
Is it realistic to think we can actually win the AL Central with all we’ve been through? Well, if it’s going to happen, Pods (who hit an inside-the-parker yesterday), Beckham (who knocked out three hits), the pesky Getz, AJ and, of course. the starting pitching will have to continue to be front and center. Furthermore, the bullpen and the likes of Dye, Rios and Quentin have to snap out of it. 
Is it possible? First things first. Let’s win today, take the series from the Angels, get to .500 and then focus on the Mariners.

White Sox Miss Opportunity to Gain Ground, Beckham is Back and Former Sox Farmhand Enters Hall of Fame

It would have been nice if I could talk today about a Sox victory in Anaheim and how we picked up a game on the Tigers and Twins, who both lost on Friday night.

But I can’t.
While their two rivals went down, the South Siders were pretty much a no-show in California with a rare sub-par performance by Gavin Floyd and a measly five hits–even though one was a Jayson Nix homer. The result? A 7-1 drubbing.
To state the obvious, with the Sox six games out with 20 to go we can’t afford to squander many more opportunities to gain ground.
Beckham returns

Although he went 0 for 4 in the opener against the Angels, it was good to see Gordon Beckham back in the lineup. Hopefully he’ll stay healthy enough to have a hot couple of weeks and stay in position to be named AL Rookie of the Year.
Former Sox farmhand inducted into Hall of Fame

A former minor league outfielder in the Sox system by the name of Michael Jordan was enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame last night. He never made it to the bigs, much less Cooperstown, but I think we would all agree he was a pretty fair basketball player.

Dick Allen on 1st, Eddie Collins Moved to 2nd in whitesox.com’s All-Time 9 Fan Poll

For those of you who read my blog yesterday, I made my selections for whitesox.com’s All-Time 9. It’s a poll created for all of us to name our personal Sox starting lineup based on single-season hitting stats.

To help us in the process the Sox site offers a list of candidates for each position. As I mentioned yesterday, I was confused about the omission at first base of Dick Allen’s 1972 season and the fact that Hall of Fame second baseman Eddie Collins was listed as a first baseman. Well, I woke up this morning to find that the mystery has been solved. Allen is now on the ballot and Collins is in his rightful place at second.

With this monumental issue solved, we now can enjoy the day without a cloud of confusion hanging over our heads :-).

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