I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that last night’s 4-3 squeaker over the Royals was one of the season’s most important wins. I say that because after two straight losses following the 11-game streak, the Sox could not afford a third defeat in a row with Zack Greinke on the mound tonight and three against the hot Rangers in Arlington on the horizon.
On this night it was the pitching, especially the bullpen, that was instrumental in eeking out the victory. The South Siders scored four early runs to take a commanding lead, but the Royals got to Gavin Floyd with three in the fifth to narrow the lead to one. Then Floyd calmed down, went 6 2/3 and benefited from 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief from Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz, who earned the save. With the Twins win over the Tigers, they move back into first, 1/2 game in front of Detroit and 1 1/2 games ahead of the Sox.
Rumor mill: While the Sox are mum and Ozzie is on record saying we don’t need a big lefthanded bat right now, rumors have it that the club is exploring the possibility of bringing powerful first baseman/outfielder Adam Dunn of the Nationals (above) into the fold by the trading deadline. There’s no question the Sox could use some lefty pop, but they aren’t the only ones who covet Dunn. Whether it’s the D.C. slugger or someone else, I’m confident Kenny Williams will add a lefthanded bat before July 31.
It happens. In fact it happens so often that I was expecting a couple of losses in a row after the 11-game winning streak.
What I’m saying is that it’s pretty much the natural progression of things that a team will suffer a bit of a letdown after winning a significant number of games in a row.
So it is now with our White Sox. After the streak ended on Sunday with the loss to the Cubs, the Sox lost another last night in Kansas City. In both Sunday and Monday contests the South Siders had a chance to win in the ninth with a clutch hit or two. But the law of averages prevailed and now we’ve lost a couple in a row and stand two games back of the Tigers who beat the Twins to move into first place.
The Pale Hose will be back at it tonight with Gavin Floyd on the hill against the Royals. No need to panic, but it’s important for us to win this one. We don’t want the two games to get to three and beyond.
Note of the day: Red-hot Carlos Quentin was named the American League Player of the Week. Continuing his surge, he homered for the only Sox tally last night.
We knew it had to end sometime. And the fact that the Sox have lost only twice in 17 games and moved to within 1 1/2 games of the Twins’ A.L. Central lead, makes today’s 8-6 loss to the you-know-whos an acceptable, if not satisfying, outcome.
It was also heartening to see the Sox rally in the ninth and bring the winning run to the plate in the person of Alex Rios, the club’s most consistent offensive performer.
The hope now is that the Sox continue to play sound baseball. Winning 11 games in a row is one thing, maintaining their consistency after the streak is another. But from the looks of things, Sox fans have to be confident that good things are ahead.
Speaking of the number 11
Baseball Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, who starred in both the Negro Leagues and with the New York Giants, on Saturday became the 11th player in the history of the Giants franchise to have his uniform number (20) retired.
During the ceremony, 91-year-old Monte told the crowd: “My life in baseball is now complete.”
Congratulations to the ultimate gentleman.
Whether it was planned that way or not, Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard in real life) was the perfect choice to throw out the ceremonial first pitch tonight at the Cell. After all, for White Sox fans the last couple of weeks have certainly been Happy Days with the Sox now 1 1/2 behind first place Minnesota and tied with Detroit for second.
After the thrilling 3-2 victory over the North Side Media Darlings, the Sox winning streak is now at 11 while winning 15 of 16. Freddy Garcia, with a strong seven innings, continued his pitching excellence, J.J. Putz pitched a scoreless eighth for the win and Matt Thornton earned his third save. It was Paul Konerko’s 403-foot blast in the eighth that broke a 2-2 tie.
In addition to the streak continuing, the Sox clinched the first Crosstown Cup with a game to go in the series with the Media Darlings–and celebrated afterwards. They’re also 15-2 against the National League in interleague play.
The best part of tonight for me was being at the Cell. Electric and exciting. The Sox feel they can’t lose and the fans believe them. Nights like these are why we got hooked on this team in the first place.
In the city of Chicago, the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup hangover, the rumor than Lebron and Bosh are on their way to the Bulls and the Zambrano meltdown are overshadowing something pretty special brewing on the South Side. It was another day and another victory for the surging Pale Hose, making it 10 in a row–the club’s most consecutive wins since 1976–and 14 of 15.
It was simply a great day as…
Jake Peavy stymies Cubs in the 6-0 whitewash…Carlos Quentin hits a first inning three-run homer…Gordon Beckham slugs round-tripper and drives in two…Mets beat Twins…Braves defeat Tigers…The Sox move within a game and a half of the division-leading Twinkies and only a game behind Detroit.
I know, pretty hard to believe.
The Happy Headlines from today’s 2-0 triumph over Atlanta:
–White Sox win ninth consecutive game, and make it 13 of 14, with three-game series sweep
–Sox move within 2 1/2 games of the first place Twins who are swept by the Brewers
–Gavin Floyd is masterful with a scoreless seven-inning two-hitter, striking out nine Braves
--J.J. Putz hurls perfect eighth inning, Bobby Jenks a perfect ninth
–Paul Konerko’s two-run homer in eighth, his 18th, proves to be the difference.
Up next? the Cubs. Will be heading to Chicago tomorrow and will be in the house on Saturday. Happy times on the South Side.
Floyd Stymies Braves
Count me as one of those who felt changes needed to be made with these 2010 White Sox after their dismal April, May and beginning of June. And I was part of a pretty large legion, which eventually included Sox GM Kenny Williams.
Of course my sentiments were centered on the winning and losing. But the fact that the Sox seemed out of the race in May with no hope of improving was even more disturbing. I, like most fans, certainly didn’t want to spend their summer without any meaningful baseball.
Then we went on the roll that continued last night with the 4-2 win over the Braves, which clinched the series victory. Here are the happy totals: We’re now two games over .500, 3 1/2 games behind the first place Twins and only two games behind the Tigers. We’ve won eight in a row and 11 of 12.
How did all of this happen? The starting pitching has been superb, we’re finally getting clutch hits, the defense is better (Omar Vizquel at third has been a real plus) and something that many of us said before the season is finally coming to fruition.
That preseason observation was that Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin have to produce if the Sox want to be contenders. We all know Rios has more than lived up to his end of the bargain, but Quentin seemed lost at the plate for the first two months. Now, he’s turning it on and the Sox are back in the hunt. His two homers last night, for example, were the difference in the game.
Whatever the reasons, baseball season is fun again on the South Side of Chicago.
When the Braves took an early 3-0 tonight against the White Sox at the Cell, I flashed back to April and May and had that sinking feeling that we were doomed.
But this is a different Sox team. One that can rebound from an early deficit because of renewed starting pitching, clutch hitting and defense that has improved their record to 35-34. You don’t have to look further than tonight’s result against the red-hot Braves to see that. Down 3-0 after one and a half innings, the South Siders scored five runs in the bottom of the second, added one in the third and three in the fourth en route to the 9-6 victory. And after his early woes, John Danks settled down and blanked Atlanta for the next five innings before being relieved by Tony Pena in the eighth.
Here we are one game above .500, 4 1/2 games behind the division-leading Twins and only three in back of the Tigers.
Many heroes surfaced last night. Danks, A.J. Pierzynski (three hits, two RBI), Alexei Ramirez (three hits and an RBI), Paul Konerko (three hits to raise his BA to .304), Alex Rios (two hits and an RBI) and Carlos Quentin, who slammed a three-run homer for the team’s first roundtripper in eight games. We had 16 hits in all. The only negatives happened in the ninth with Scott Linebrink giving up two runs before being relieved by Bobby Jenks (who got the save) and Ramirez leaving the game with a finger injury. Too early to tell how serious the injury is.
No, I didn’t forget Omar Vizquel, who has been outstanding as the main replacement for the disabled Mark Teahen (remember him?). Omar delivered a clutch two-out, two RBI single in the Sox five-run second, which prolonged the rally (pictured above).
How important has Vizquel been to the Sox recent resurgence? The Sox are 13-6 when the future Hall of Fame starts at third base.
After an 8-1 road trip and six victories in a row the Sox will arrive home to play the Braves on Tuesday as a .500 team. And despite winning against mediocre teams like the Cubs, Pirates and Nationals, it looks like we’ve turned the corner with solid play (and no homers in eight straight games). I have to admit I had serious doubts it would happen this season.
Freddy Garcia won his eighth game today in the 6-3 win over the Nationals and Alex Rios and Paul Konerko continued their assault on major league pitchers. Between them they were 5 for 10 with five RBI. And this could be the most telling stat of all: The Sox starters are 9-1 with a 1.95 ERA in their last 12 games.
“Today’s game might be the biggest game all year,” Ozzie told reporters after the game. “We got a chance to be .500 and go back home and continue to play the way we want to play…a couple of weeks ago were in a lot of trouble, but now (we’re) getting the players’ confidence back and giving the team some hope.”
Hey guys, don’t stop now.
I’m very fortunate. I’m 62-years-old and still enjoying the company of my Dad, Seymour Berke, who is on his way to 87.
While he’s lost his sight, his hearing is fading and he’s undergoing painful dialysis three times a week, I’m still able to share my life with him and talk about my career, my wife Bonnie who he adores, my golden retriever Happy and, of course, our beloved White Sox.
Many of our most cherished moments together have been following the Sox and going to countless games at old Comiskey and the Cell. In 1959, my Dad was able to get two tickets to Game 1 of the World Series, which the South Siders won 11-0. The bad news is that he had to work and didn’t go with me. For the next 46 years I regretted that I never got to go to a Sox World Series game with him. Then, in 2005, my disappointment ended. There we were at Game 1 of the ’05 Series witnessing the 5-3 win over the Astros.
It was a priceless moment that neither of us will ever forget. Sometimes I look back and think it was too good to be true, but I see that picture of the two of us in our Sox jackets and I know it really happened. And his comment after our heroes had finally won the World Series in Houston, was just as memorable. He said, “All those games, all those years, we finally did it.”
Happy Father’s Day, Dad, and thanks.