The battle of the Sox was won today by the White over the Red as the Pale Hose swept a day-night doubleheader at Fenway with identical 3-1 scores to move within 3 1/2 games of the Twins. The suddenly “on-fire” South Siders have now won the first five games of their 10-game road trip with the time-honored formula of outstanding pitching and timely hitting.
John Danks outdueled 15-game winner Clay Buchholz, Gordon Beckham delivered a key RBI double in the seventh inning, red-hot Paul Konerko collected three hits and Sergio Santos and Bobby Jenks preserved the win out of the bullpen in Game 1.
Gavin Floyd was the winner and John Lackey the loser in Game 2 with Scott Linebrink and Chris Sale excelling out of the pen before Jenks got the last four outs for his second save of the night. Offensively, Carlos Quentin smashed a double and a triple while scoring a pair of runs and Mark Teahen had a 2 for 4 night. Due to a pair of Bosox errors, which resulted in two unearned runs, backstop Ramon Castro had the only Chisox RBI with a sac fly.
The Manny Watch: In his return to Boston, Manny Ramirez went 2 for 4 in the first game and 1 for 4 in the second, all singles.
While there has been Manny talk all day, all night and all week, when the White Sox needed a boost this afternoon it was South Side mainstay Paul Konerko who had the last word. His eighth inning three-run homer overcame a subpar Sox performance and paced his teammates to a 6-4 comeback victory and a sweep of the depleted Indians in Cleveland.
Paulie, whose season has been nothing short of sensational, is now hitting .319 with 33 homers, 98 RBIs and an OPS of .986.
For most of the game the Sox were stymied by rookie Carlos Carrasco and their own defense, which committed three errors. But a home run by Alexei, not Manny, Ramirez in the eighth and Konerko’s clutch blast later in the inning made up for it. It also didn’t help that Freddy Garcia gave way to Tony Pena after four innings because of a strained lower back.
The game was also highlighted by Alex Rios‘ 20th homer of the season, which gave The Good Guys a 1-0 lead in the first inning, and Chris Sale‘s first save of his career. Manny reached base twice in his Sox debut. He singled and was hit by a pitch.
It’ll be a day off tomorrow, then three games in Boston against two tough customers–Clay Buchholz and John Lackey–on Friday and Saturday. Sunday’s Red Sox starter is TBA. We’ll counter with John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Mark Buehrle. One bit of good news for us is that Matt Thornton is expected to be ready for action after a stint on the DL.
Oh yeah, I might have buried the lead. Manny will be returning to the scene of the crime.
Every team in baseball has to deal with key injuries. Look at the Twins. Justin Morneau has been out since the All-Star break and Joe Nathan has been missing for the entire season. How about the Red Sox? Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Victor Martinez, Jacob Ellsbury, Mike Cameron and Clay Buchholz are among those who have been laid up and Youkilis, Ellsbury and Cameron are out or likely out for the year.
So as much as it took away from last night’s more-exciting-than-it-needed-to-be 7-5 victory over the Orioles and the reality that we gained a game on the Twins, we just have to deal with this unfortunate fact: both Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz are going on the DL and we’ve got to head into the stretch without two key components.
There’s no word at this juncture as to who will replace them. It’s expected that Erick Threets, who has been on a rehab assignment, will take Thornton’s spot–joining rookie Chris Sale as the two lefties in the pen. The other callup could be Carlos Torres or Lucas Harrell, who did such a stellar job when he was promoted to Chicago earlier this year. Or maybe it could be former “cup of coffee” major leaguer Ryan Braun, who has 18 saves and a 2.00 ERA at Charlotte.
Of course, the timing couldn’t be worse. The bullpen has been overworked and struggling as it is. Because of Sergio Santos‘ erratic performance last night and Putz’s injury, Bobby Jenks had to be summoned two days after hurling three innings in Kansas City. The good news is that he was terrific both times–and got the save last night–but how much longer can he hold down the fort by himself? And Ozzie, shown above making the change from Santos to Putz in last night’s harrowing ninth inning, will have to do a major juggling act.
In baseball, sometimes up is down and down is up and what’s expected plays out exactly the opposite. Let’s hope for that.