It was another White Sox explosion tonight as the South Siders crushed four home runs in a 9-5 victory over the Mariners. It concluded a four-game sweep over Seattle and moved The Good Guys to a game and a half in front of the red-hot Twins.
Ramon Castro connected for a pair of roundtrippers and Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin hit back-to-back blows in the seventh to cinch the victory.
Freddy Garcia bounced back from his disastrous last start and pitched six solid innings to win his 10th game of the season.
A weekend series with the A’s is up next.
My company is running a sports career event this week in New York, where high school and college students from around the country are touring NY area sports venues like Yankee Stadium, Red Bull Arena, Madison Square Garden and Citi Field and hearing from sports business leaders.
One of the stops we made on Wednesday was the MLB Network where we posed for pictures in one of the dugouts at Studio 42, named after Jackie Robinson.
All eyes were on the White Sox last night. Could they come out of the break with same fire that saw them go 25-5 in the last 30 games? How would they do against the rival Twins as they aimed for their ninth victory in a row–this coming on the heels of the 11-game winning streak?
Aside from a six-run Twins uprising in the second off of John Danks, which saw Minny take the lead after the Sox scored four in the first two frames, it was all good as the Sox held on in the 8-7 squeaker to increase their division lead to a full game over the Tigers.
There was no lack of positive signs. The gutty Danks bounced back to go six innings after giving up six runs in the second, Juan Pierre went 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored, four players (Omar Vizquel, Alex Rios, Mark Kotsay and Gordon Beckham) pounded out a pair of hits each with Beckham and Rios both going 2 for 3 with two RBIs apiece. And GBeck added a long second-inning homer.
Additionally, the pen did what they had to do with three clutch two-out strikeouts to end Twins rallies–Matt Thornton (Jason Kubel) in the seventh, Bobby Jenks (Orlando Hudson) and Jenks (Jim Thome) to end the game in the ninth.
With a lot of heroes to choose from, the best part of last night for me was the continuing emergence of Beckham as the same guy we saw in 2009. His bat is perking up, his power is back, he’s been sparkling in the field and his average is up to .221 and climbing. That average might not seem like much, but it’s a big improvement from where it’s been in the early going.
Many folks agree that Beckham is the key to the Sox offense. I’m one of them. His presence in the lineup was enormous last year and adding a vintage GBeck to Rios, Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin and the rest can only mean good things for The Good Guys.
With all the angst and negativity that the White Sox and their fans went through during the first two months of the season, it was beyond crazy to think that here at the All-Star break I can look you straight in the eye and say: The Pale Hose are in first place.
On the strength of winning 25 of their last 30 with superb pitching, clutch hitting and tight defense, the Sox are unbelievably on top of the A.L. Central 11 games above .500. Today’s 15-5 triumph over the Royals and the Twins victory in Detroit gave the South Siders their eighth straight win and a 1/2 game division lead over the Tigers.
The Happy Totals: The 15-run, 18-hit offensive explosion today at the Cell was a sight to behold and overshadowed Daniel Hudson‘s mediocre season debut. The Sox scored seven runs in the third inning powered by four home runs (Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones and Dayan Viciedo) and five in the sixth (highlighted by Quentin’s grand slam, his second two-homer game in as many days). Jones’ blast, a three-run shot, was his 400th career round-tripper…Other offensive highlights included Gordon Beckham’s 3 for 4, RBI day and a pinch-hit RBI double by the suddenly productive Brent Lillibridge, who is hitting .455 with 10 RBI since his call-up from Charlotte.
Dan Hudson (above), who was so impressive in his short stint with the White Sox last year and is 11-4 with Charlotte in 2010, takes the mound at the Cell today against Zack Greinke and the Royals as he tries to help the Sox win their eighth in a row.
Hudson’s appearance will follow another gem by a Sox starter. This time it was Gavin Floyd‘s one-run, 7 2/3 inning performance in last night’s 5-1 Sox win. It’s hard to believe how dominating Sox pitching has been. In the last three series–nine games–they have allowed only 17 runs and no more than three in a single game.
The South Siders have also found their homer stroke. Carlos Quentin hit a pair last night, Gordon Beckham slugged his third of the season and A.J. Pierzynski went deep twice the night before. Pitching, power and the recent outstanding defense is a pretty solid combination, right?.
Standings Update: With the Tigers’ second straight triumph over the slumping Twins, the Sox remain a half-game out of the division lead with the possibility of reaching the top today with a win and a Detroit loss to Minnesota…the Twins are now 3 1/2 games behind the Sox, amazing since the Chicagoans were 9 1/2 behind them as recently as last month…The Pale Hose have won 13 of their last 14 at the Cell.
Paulie an All-Star: It’s unfortunate that it was a result of someone else’s injury as he should have been selected out of the gate, but Paul Konerko has been named to the A.L. All-Star team to replace concussion-plagued Justin Morneau. He’ll join the entire 25-man Yankee roster in Anaheim (OK, I’m exaggerating).
All-Star Konerko congratulates Quentin after No. 20’s second homer last night
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 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.
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.
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.
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.