September 2009

Car-los Tor-res, Car-los Tor-res!

If I live to be 100 I’ll never figure out this game.

With the exception of the 9-5 victory in Boston, the Good Guys looked absolutely dead in the first nine games of “The Road Trip.” I mean dead, downright inept.
The pattern continued in the first eight innings of yesterday’s game against the Twins. Then, poof, the Sox became the team we have wanted them to be all season with the two-homer, four-run ninth inning rally that salvaged the finale in the Twinkiedome.
The optimists among us were hopeful entering today’s game at Wrigley vs. the Media Darlings with the memory of the Minny comeback fresh in our minds. But we never could have predicted what we got from rookie Carlos Torres–seven innings, no runs, five hits (four of which were singles), six strikeouts with no walks.
The offense was also up to the task by pounding out 13 hits–three by Pods and two apiece by Beckham, Pierzynski, Quentin and Ramirez. And for the second straight day the Sox delivered late-inning heroics as they scored two in the eighth and two in the ninth to beat the you know whos, 5-0, and end the trip 3-8.
All this begs the question: Who are we and what will happen in the remaining 27 games? The answer will begin unfolding tomorrow night against the Red Sox. And I, for one, am looking forward to the prospect of some serious payback.

Notes of the day

Tyler Flowers, the Sox catcher of the future, made his major league debut today in the ninth inning, pinch-hitting for Matt Thornton. Flowers popped out, but hopefully years from now Sox fans watching can say they were there when the great Flowers batted in the big leagues for the first time…It’s going to be Freddy Garcia vs. Boston’s Paul Byrd tomorrow night as the team returns to the Cell. Some Sox fans will remember that Byrd, just brought up last week by the Red Sox, was the only pitcher to defeat the Sox in the 2005 postseason–for the Angels in Game 1 of the ALCS.

This Ozzie-ism Bears Repeating

The quote is in all the papers this morning so no news is being broken, but in my mind whenever Ozzie comes up with one of his classic lines it should be repeated over and over.

After years of futility in what some call a ballpark, the Sox celebrated their last appearance in the Twinkiedome yesterday with the stunning ninth-inning comeback. Ozzie, who has made it clear all year long how happy he is that the Twins are moving into a new outdoor venue, summed it up like only he can:

“Now we figure out how to win in this place, and now we can’t come here no more.”

Priceless.

I Can’t Believe What I Just Saw: Sox Score 4 in 9th to Beat Nathan and Twins in Club’s Twinkiedome Finale

For all of us in SoxWorld, it was a remarkable turn of events in the Twin Cities this afternoon.

Trailing 2-0 in the ninth inning with two outs and nobody on against Sox killer Joe Nathan, even the most loyal among us had to fear the inevitable. You know, our sixth loss in a row, going 1-9 on “The Road Trip” and enduring another sweep at the hands of the Piranhas. After what we’ve been through the last two weeks, what else would we think? Even today, we hit into four double plays, struck out seven times going into the ninth and wasted a solid Mark Buehrle performance.

But wait, in the last game the Sox will ever play in this House of Horrors, a near-miracle occurred:

* Gordon Beckham homered to left on a full count to narrow the margin to 2-1.

* Paul Konerko, also on a full count, homered to left to tie the score at 2.

* Jermaine Dye walked on a 3-1 count.

* DeWayne Wise ran for Dye and proceeded to steal second.

* Carlos Quentin walked on a full count, men on first and second with two outs.

* Matt Guerrier, another thorn in our side lately, replaced Nathan. Alexei Ramirez    greeted him with a single, scoring Wise and giving the Sox a 3-2 lead. Quentin to third.

* Quentin scored on a Guerrier wild pitch, Sox up 4-2 heading to the bottom of the ninth.

* Bobby Jenks shut the door for the victory.

Today doesn’t make up for the past two weeks, but coming from behind in the ninth, beating Nathan and winning the last game at the Dome was a satisfying way to head back to Chicago.                                                                                 

          

Sox Magic Number: 2 (Until “The Road Trip” Ends)

Another game, another heartbreaker, another loss to the Twins at the Metrodome. This time it was Mike Cuddyer’s two homers and Jose Morales’ pinch-hit walkoff single that did us in, 

4-3.
The bottom line is brutal. We’re 5 games below .500 (64-69), 7 games behind the division-leading Tigers and 3 1/2 in back of the second-place Twins. Don’t look now, but the Tribe is just 5 games behind us. And we’re 1-8 on “The Road Trip” with two afternoon contests remaining–today vs. the Twins and tomorrow at Wrigley against the Media Darlings.
We’ve got the talent to finish strong, but I’ve been saying that for two weeks. The question is: Can the Sox do it on the field?  
                                                                                 

We Live to Fight Another Day

Sox Musings…

* Five players were added to the Sox roster today. Chris Getz and DeWayne Wise were activated from the DL, Josh Fields and Carlos Torres were brought up from Charlotte and catcher Tyler Flowers has been promoted to the big leagues for the first time. Flowers, who hit a combined .297 with 15 homers and 56 RBI at Birmingham and Charlotte in 108 games, will wear No. 39.

* Tonight’s Thome-less lineup in Game 2 against the Twins features Quentin in left, Pods in center and Rios in right with Jermaine as the DH. Getz is back at second base.

The Sox Move On Without Gentleman Jim and Jose

We knew “The Road Trip” was coming. We knew it would make or break the season. Still, it’s hard to believe that our worst fears have come true and the Sox hopes for an October surprise are now awfully remote, if not next-to-impossible.

While it’s not a complete surrender for 2009, the trades of Thome to the Dodgers and Contreras to the Rockies at the deadline are a signal that the Sox are ready to move on. It was unlikely Thome would be back next year anyway and the way Jose has performed recently his future wasn’t on the South Side either. If you really think about it, if the rest of the club was playing well right now we could win the division without these two.

Thome is one of the great guys in the game and his numbers place him in a position to be among the greats in Cooperstown. That said, his almost four-year tenure with the Sox was a mixed bag. On one hand, we’ll never forget his homer in the tiebreaker against the Twins last year to send us to the playoffs.  And there were many other memorable blasts, including his 500th homer and subsequent ones that moved him up the HR ladder, but there were so many times he disappointed. As I’ve said in this space before, when a clutch double was needed he grounded out to short right field or took that all-too-familiar jaunt back to the dugout after a strikeout.

We’ll remember Jose primarily for 2005: His 15-7 record with a fine 3.61 ERA in, his 17-game winning streak that spanned ’05 and ’06, his victories in the division series, LCS and World Series and his complete game in the LCS to send the Sox to the World Series–the fourth consecutive complete game by a Sox pitcher. But the sad fact is that it seemed Jose lost his confidence and simply became a detriment to the ball club. He only started against the Yankees last Saturday because there were no other viable options.

It’s almost unfathomable to envision that the Sox, the way they are performing, will make a run the rest of the way. But I’ll say it again: If the rest of the club starts playing up to expectations and goes on a roll there’s no doubt in my mind that we can win without Thome and certainly without Contreras.

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