When the White Sox acquired Omar Vizquel in the offseason, the hope was that he could be a veteran utility presence in the infield and a steadying influence on Alexei Ramirez.
As we sit here today, 3 1/2 games ahead of the Tigers and Twins, I don’t know where we would be without Omar. With Mark Teahen out of the lineup, he has provided a huge upgrade defensively and has been a key contributor to the offense as well. As of this morning he’s hitting .277, more than we could have reasonably expected.
Alexei? Whether it’s been Vizquel’s influence or not, he is on fire, both at the plate where his average is up to .284, and at short where he has been as good as anyone in the league.
There have been many heroes in the Sox revitalization. Vizquel, Ramirez and their buddy Gordon Beckham (all pictured above) are right at the top of the list.
For White Sox fans who didn’t survive last night’s rain delay, and heard this morning that the South Siders committed five errors, likely thought it had to be a sloppy, disappointing loss. But it wasn’t the case for these red-hot Sox, who have now won 21 out of their last 25.
Despite the five miscues the Sox won in neat fashion, taking their third straight from the Angels, 5-2, and claiming their fourth consecutive victory overall behind steady Freddy Garcia‘s ninth victory. They now have vaulted into second place, a game behind the Tigers and a half-game ahead of the Twins.
If winning despite five errors isn’t strange enough, then how about Brent Lillibridge being the DH and driving in a pair runs? The once-laughing stock of the Sox roster is now hitting .429 since being called up from Charlotte. He was joined by a team effort offensively with every man in the starting lineup getting at least one hit. Alexei Ramirez, Alex Rios and Paul Konerko had two apiece with Paulie driving in a pair of runs.
Peavy: He Gone?
I’m not burying the lead, it’s just that we’ve got to move on. Will the Sox miss Jake Peavy if he is indeed lost for the season? Undoubtedly, but it doesn’t help to whine. The hope is that Dan Hudson (or someone else that Kenny Williams acquires before the trade deadline) will be good enough to minimize the loss.
“Dr. Andrews, it’s Jake Peavy…I need your help.”
Last night’s 9-2 White Sox victory over the Angels was pretty close to perfection. Solid pitching, great defense, four homers, clutch hitting and holiday fireworks to top it all off. The only blemish was a scary top of the eighth as Bobby Jenks, obviously rusty from a week’s absence, and newcomer Erick Threets loaded the bases before Sergio Santos slammed the door on the Halos.
Many heroes emerged: Gavin Floyd and his outstanding seven innings, Dayan Viciedo and his first major league home run and a pair of RBI, red-hot Alexei Ramirez and his homer and two RBI were among them.
But the revitalized Carlos Quentin stole the show. Q hit a pair of homers with three RBI. Overcoming a horrendous start, he now has 15 homers and 53 RBI with a week to go before the All-Star Game. And then there was the first inning catch off the bat of Sox nemesis Torii Hunter in right field, which saved a run, set the tone for the night and is certain to be an ESPN “Web Gem.” Here it is, though the photo doesn’t do it justice.
I can’t say enough about Mark Buehrle. His pitching accomplishments, his leadership, his sense of humor and the fact he still runs out to catch ceremonial first pitches except on days he’s on the mound all contribute to him being special.
And not everybody boasting his credentials would be the leading spokesperson for the election of a teammate for an All-Star berth–especially when said spokesperson didn’t make it himself. But then again, Buehrle isn’t everybody. Here he is, t-shirt and all, at the Cell last night encouraging fans to vote for Paul Konerko, who by the way should already be on the American League roster.
It was Alexei Ramirez‘s clutch, two-out, two-run sixth inning homer off of Scott Feldman that proved to be the difference in the 5-3 White Sox victory over the Rangers.
The game was big, according winning pitcher Mark Buehrle, and that it was. It gave the Sox a series victory over the red-hot A.L. West leaders, a respectable 3-3 road trip and, most importantly, it moved the South Siders to within a game of the Twins and Tigers for the division lead. So it’s no wonder Alexei, whose average is now hovering around .280 after his usual mediocre start, voiced his excitement.
Another factor that can’t be ignored is that revitalized Sox pitching. Against a lineup with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Vlad Guerrero, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz, the Pale Hose gave up only three runs in each of the three games and 18 total hits, an average of only six per contest.
What seemed like an impossibility just a few weeks ago, the Sox are seriously knocking at the door of the division lead. Now back home for seven games–four against the Angels and three vs. the Royals–before the All-Star break, it is conceivable that we could have a first place team in a matter of days.
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.
Just another day at the old ballpark for the opener of the Crosstown Series at Wrigley Field.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella ripped Steve Stone for criticizing the skipper. Ozzie admitted there is friction between he and Kenny Williams. And the White Sox scored 10 runs on 16 hits with three homers as Jake Peavy claimed his 100th major league victory in the 10-5 thrashing of the North Side Media Darlings. Furthermore, it was the South Siders’ third straight win–only the second time in 2010 they’ve won as many games in a row.
Since we’ve been starved for offense all season, allow me the luxury of examining today’s box score:
—Alex Rios, who has been terrific all season, went 4 for 4 with a homer, three runs scored and two runs batted in. He now has 13 homers, 31 RBI and is batting .322.
–-A.J. Pierzynski, whose bat seems to be coming around after a horrid start, went 4 for 5 with a homer and three RBI.
—Paul Konerko, along with Rios the team’s most consistent offensive threat, went 2 for 5 with two runs scored and two RBI. His BA is up to .287 along with 44 RBI.
—Alexei Ramirez, whose average is now at a respectable .263, seems to be turning the corner. He pounded out two hits with two runs scored and an RBI.
–Rounding out the highlights: Carlos Quentin hit a pinch homer–his eighth roundtripper of the season–and even Brent Lillibridge got a hit. He’s now hitting .667 in his brief big league stint this year.
Eight runs, 12 hits, a scoreless eight innings by Mark Buehrle, a perfect Sergio Santos ninth and a five RBI performance by Alexei Ramirez (above) were the highlights in the 8-0 White Sox victory over the Marlins last night at The Cell.
After entering the game a season-high eight games below .500, the Sox made it an enjoyable evening for Sox fans like me who are starving for something positive.
With Gavin Floyd on the mound, today is pivotal as the Sox try to win two in a row for the first time in a month. It’ll be a small move forward, but we have to start somewhere.
Kenny Williams, above in a pose that now seems like a distant memory, addressed his troops upon their return from the 3-3 road trip.
–Lighten up (stop pressing, have some fun)
–He remains confident that this team can still challenge for a division title and beyond
–He’s not giving up on players like Carlos Quentin, Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez, who he expects will turn around.
–He’ll make trades only when the team forces him to.
–He has not had conversations about making changes with the manager or coaches.
The “pep talk” seemed to have little impact as the Sox once again failed to win a second consecutive game–it’s been almost a month that they did so–by dropping a 3-2 decision the Angels.
Same old story. Despite John Danks surrendering only three hits in 7 2/3 innings, the Sox could only score a pair of runs–one on a Paul Konerko homer in the ninth–and committed three errors.
It’s just hard for me to believe there won’t be some changes–and soon.
I have one question after witnessing the White Sox lose another game and another series–this time to the last place Kansas City Royals, who continue to sit in last place and improved to 14-24 with today’s triumph.
Do the Sox really expect their fans to endure this team as presently constituted for the next four and a half months?
Kenny Williams has admitted he’s losing patience. Kenny, join the club. With high hopes for a division title and all the bravado about being a strong championship contender, the Pale Hose have self-destructed. Either Williams’ architecture is highly overrated or the players he acquired in the offseason are grossly underachieving–or maybe it’s a little bit of both.
There’s a lot of blame to go around. Mark Teahen, Gordon Beckham, Gavin Floyd, Carlos Quentin, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Kotsay are at the top of my list. If Alexei Ramirez hadn’t rallied a bit recently, he’d be there too.
So, what do we do? I’m not sure, but it’s unbearable watching these guys blow leads and fail to come through in the clutch day in, day out, night in and night out.
KW, it’s time. Something needs to be done to shake things up. Whether it’s via trades, promoting prospects or reading the riot act, do it. The status quo is unacceptable.
Teahen: One of the poster boys for the Sox failures
I have to admit that my blood pressure reached scary levels after the first inning last night as Jake Peavy was the victim of a three-run Royal splurge that included a walk and a hit batsman. All I could think about was losing back-to-back games to the Royals and losing the opportunity to gain on the Twins, who lost earlier in the day to the Yanks.
But the South Siders showed some grit and overcame a 4-1 with a four-run seventh to win 5-4. Aside from the rare comeback itself, there were some positive signs. Among them:
–The way that Peavy rebounded after the shaky start. After giving up four runs through three innings, he pitched scoreless ball into the ninth for this third victory of the season.
—Juan Pierre collected a pair of hits and raised his average to .254. Not exactly on par with Rod Carew, but we’ll take it after Juan’s subpar start.
—Alexei Ramirez (above) was 3 for 4 with an RBI, upping his average to .231. Puny, but improving.
—Ramon Castro got his first hit of the season and drove in a pair of runs in the pivotal seventh inning.
—Matt Thornton got the save after relieving Peavy with one out in the ninth.
Now the hard part–winning today to capture the series.