Results tagged ‘ Ozzie Guillen ’

Konerko and the “R” Word Sum Up Sox Season

If we didn’t know it before, we know it now. The Twins are clearly the best team in the A.L. Central. It was never more apparent than it was this week as Minnesota not only swept the White Sox, but outscored them 26-11 and increased their division lead to nine games.

The fact that the Sox aren’t going to the postseason doesn’t mean we can’t have some good feelings about this season. Granted, the horrible start, the inconsistent pitching, porous defense and the lack of clutch hitting was exasperating. But how about the 25-5 run before the All-Star Game and the seven-game winning streak just a few weeks ago?
In the end, the identity of this team wasn’t about championships, but rather about its fight. Time after time they showed resiliency after getting down early in games. They may not have won all of those contests, but their heads and hearts were always in the game. 
And then there was last night. While the Sox fell to the Twins, 8-5, a incident involving Paul Konerko best illustrates what the 2010 Pale Hose have been all about. 
In the first inning, with two outs and Omar Vizquel at first base, a Carl Pavano pitch collided with Konerko’s face. Being led off the field by Ozzie and trainer Herm Schneider, Paulie refused to come out of the game and jogged to first, fat lip and all. Then, in the third frame, Konerko got the appropriate revenge by smashing his 37th homer of the season. 
You can make the case that this scenario is the Sox season in a nutshell. It can be summed up this way: resiliency, resiliency, resiliency. 
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56202734.jpgHere it is. Paulie gets clocked, then rebounds with No. 37 two innings later.


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Ozzie: “We’re Swimming Right Now Against the Current, and it Keeps Raining.”

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Not much left to say. The Twins clobber the Sox 9-3 for the second night in a row as the South Siders fall eight games behind Minny in the A.L. Central.
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Watching the White Sox Not for the Faint of Heart

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Pierzynski.jpgIt’s not easy watching these White Sox but, at least for tonight, all’s well that ends well as the South Siders eeked out a 4-3 win against the Tribe in Cleveland.
Before running into some trouble in the ninth inning, Edwin Jackson was spectacular once again, getting the victory and striking out 10 or more for the third straight game. He finished with 11 before tiring (he threw 129 pitches) and giving way to Bobby Jenks, who chalked up his 25th save with two outs and the winning run on base. 
With the score knotted up 1-1, A.J. Pierzynski smashed what turned out to be the game-winning three-run homer in the ninth–his first since July 9–as the Sox clinched the series which concludes tomorrow afternoon.
Aside from a short stint in the on-deck circle during the Pierzynski at-bat, Manny Ramirez spent the night in the dugout. He would have made his Pale Hose debut had A.J. not homered, but Ozzie decided to pull him back and stay with Brent Lillibridge, who entered the game earlier as a pinch-runner for DH Mark Kotsay.
Freddy Garcia will be on the hill tomorrow afternoon as the Hose go for the sweep before an off-day and a weekend series against the Red Sox in Boston.
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                         Manny on deck just before Pierzynski’s clutch homer




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“Aside From That, Mrs. Lincoln, How Did You Like The Play?”

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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.
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Win or Lose, These Sox Keep Coming at You

55690296.jpgYou’ve no doubt heard all of the details about the circumstances behind last night’s split doubleheader between the White Sox and Royals in Kansas City:
* The  terrible decision to start the game on Friday when umpire Joe West was told a torrential downpour was on its way.
* The fact that Edwin Jackson lost his start and reliever Tony Pena (above) had to start Game 2.
* The Fox Sports edict that the first game had to start at 6:05 CT–with a day game on Sunday.
Those developments set the stage for an eight-hour marathon, which saw the Sox play two extra-inning games–a 6-5 defeat in Game 1 (11 innings) after they blew a 5-1 lead and a 7-6 victory in Game 2  (10 frames) after they came back after blowing a ninth-inning lead.
What can we take from what we saw last night?
–Although he loaded the bases that set the stage for Yuniesky Betancourt‘s game-tying grand slam in Game 1, Freddy Garcia did what he had to do in 6 2/3 innings.
–Bravo to Pena, who made his first start in years, and went seven strong innings in Game 2. Aside from a four-run fourth inning, he was stellar.
–He was the losing pitcher in Game 1, but No. 1 draft pick Chris Sale is a stud. He looked overpowering in his 1 2/3 innings of work. And it was Bobby Jenks who coughed up the winning run.
–Our bullpen has been awful. First it was Santos and Jenks in Game 1, then J.J. Putz blew his third consecutive save in the nightcap after striking out the first two after Scott Linebrink gave up a blast in the eighth. Miraculously, Putz shut the door in the bottom of the 10th.
–The Sox could have very well won Game 1 if Brent Lillibridge, running for Paul Konerko, hadn’t hesitated around second base in the 10th after Carlos Quentin’s gap double to right-center. It was inexcusable for him to be thrown out which would have been the lead run. Lilli needs to be a better fundamental player and avoid the brain freezes.
–In Game 2, Ramon Castro‘s two-run homer, Alex Rios‘s RBI single and Juan Pierre‘s clutch two-out double in the 10th to put the Sox ahead for good, saved the day.
The No. 1 takeaway is that for all of the problems the Sox have had in the past couple of weeks, they keep coming back. They could have packed it in after Game 1 and again after the Royals took the lead in Game 2, but they didn’t and kept fighting. Win or lose, that’s really the legacy of this team.
“To bounce back in the second game and play the way they did, what can be better than that,” Ozzie said in the wee small hours of the morning.
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                  Lillibridge’s blunder: The run that should have scored in Game 1



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What Else is New? Twins 7, Sox 6; South Siders Fall Five Games Back in Division Race

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There’s really not much more to say. Despite the White Sox’s admirable resiliency and the ability to play the Twins close (it’s the third straight 7-6 Sox loss in Minneapolis), the Twinkies are clearly the better team right now and we’re getting dominated. Just want to get out of town and start fresh this weekend in Kansas City.
There’s nothing more unwatchable for me, baseball-wise, than seeing the White Sox play the Twins in Minny. And even though it’s a different venue than in the past, the tradition continues.
Frankly, I’m sick of it.

Ozzie knows best
Our manager is right about defending his decision to let Jim Thome go. Gentleman Jim has been terrific this season against the league and against the White Sox and has benefitted in terms of playing time from Justin Morneau‘s injury. 
But amid all the emotion surrounding his game-winning blast two nights ago, which may have realistically ended the Sox season, let’s get real about Thome. For all his contributions, too many times during his tenure in Chicago he struck out, grounded out or walked when a run-scoring double or home run was needed–and he was a major clog on the bases.
I know he’s a great guy and Sox fans are making this a rallying point, but let’s not blow this out of proportion and, worse yet, revise history.

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Late White Sox Comeback Hands Mr. Baseball First Oriole Loss; Markakis is the New Mattingly

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BALTIMORE–The White Sox scored a run in each of the 7th, 8th and 9th innings tonight to come from behind for the 4-2 victory. It gave Buck “Mr. Baseball” Showalter his first loss as the Oriole skipper and it was also the first game in the last three that the temporarily resurgent O’s didn’t win on a walk-off.
Tonight’s heroes were July’s A.L. Pitcher of the Month Gavin Floyd, who won his eighth game with another superb performance; Carlos Quentin, who broke the ice for the Hose with a fourth inning solo blast; Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz, who closed the door with an inning of scoreless relief apiece; and A.J. Pierzynski (double), Alex Rios (single) and Gordon Beckham (single), who drove in the Sox’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th runs in the last three frames, respectively. A.J.’s heroics may have been costly as he left the game with an apparent ankle injury after sliding hard into third. Let’s hope it’s not too serious.
Oh, that Markakis

Years ago, when the Yankees’ Don Mattinglywas battering American League pitchers, one of the Yankee announcers mentioned that he hit a little over .500 against the White Sox. My reaction was, when did he make the outs?

Having watched the Orioles’ Nick Markakis over the past few years, and the last two nights, in particular, I’m having Mattingly flashbacks.
For the record, he went 4 for 5 on last night and 1 for 3  with a walk tonight, but it seems like he’s on base every time up. There are certain guys who have killed the Sox over the years–Mattingly and Mike Sweeney for instance–and Markakis is certainly one of the them.
Bobby Who?

That’s right, Ozzie went to Putz tonight to close out the game. Frankly, it was a relief I didn’t have to sit in Section 44 at Camden Yards and chance another Bobby Jenks‘ meltdown. Now that the door is open and Putz breezed through the ninth, has Jenks lost his job? Stay tuned?
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Kotsay, Santos Lift Our Spirits After Yet Another Bobby Jenks Meltdown

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There was no scarcity of storylines in today’s dramatic 6-4, 11-inning White Sox win over the Tigers.
Pick one: There’s the validation of Mark Kotsay (above) or the sad-but-true Bobby Jenks chronicles or the continuing transformation of infielder-turned-relief ace Sergio Santos or last, but not least, yet another example of the South Siders’ impressive resiliency.
Kotsay: Just a couple of days after Ozzie defended Kotsay’s role with the club, the versatile first baseman/outfielder/DH went 3 for 5 with a key two-run homer in the ninth and the game-winning two-RBI triple in the 11th. It was a sight for sore eyes as the popular Kotsay has been in a season long slump, which even resulted in him burning his bats in a recent ceremony.
Jenks: Kotsay’s heroics made Jenks’ latest meltdown a bit more palatable, but the reliever’s woes are still a big cause for concern. Even Ozzie seemed flummoxed after the Sox closer coughed up a two-out, three-run homer in the ninth to the immortal Ryan Raburn, which tied the score and cost Freddy Garcia his 11th victory of the season.
“You know what?” Guillen said to reporters after the game. “Ask Bobby what he wants to do. I don’t know. I don’t say we’ve lost confidence, but when your closer gives up one run (it’s OK). The last three times he blew the game, he gave up three or four runs…I keep saying, when Bobby’s the closer, our bullpen is better. But right now, I’ve got to wait and see what I’m going to do for the next couple of days.”
If Jenks’ blown opportunities aren’t bad enough, he has a tendency to minimize his failures, which drives fans nuts. It’s one thing to fail, it’s another not to be accountable. I understand that closers need to have short memories, but admitting that he has stunk up the place (i.e., Minnesota, Seattle and Detroit) wouldn’t hurt his relationship with the faithful.
Santos: What a godsend Sergio has been. His two scoreless innings today, in the 10th and 11th innings, were obviously instrumental in the team’s ability to come back after the dreadful ninth.
Never Say Die White Sox: These Sox continue to amaze with the ability to bounce back. After the stunning Rayburn homer, the Hose could have laid down and died and wound up dropping the game to Detroit as well as losing ground to the victorious Twins. But they didn’t–and never do.
I’m happy to say that I’ll be meeting up with the first-place Sox in Baltimore for the weekend series. To echo a now all-too-familiar phrase: “Don’t stop now, boys.”
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Random Sox Thoughts on a Wednesday Morning

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Things I’m thinking about…

* After the 12-2 win over the Tigers in the opener I would have loved a doubleheader sweep last night, but as one of the members of my Sox posse e-mailed after the second game: “It’s baseball. You don’t win them all. We split two games and gained one-half game. I’ll take it.” And we all know how difficult it is to sweep a twinbill.
* You’d be hard-pressed to find a better story than that of 43-year-old future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel (above). Having taken over the third base job after Mark Teahen‘s injury, he’s now hitting .293 with numerous clutch hits and superb defense. Remarkable.
* Has anybody noticed that Alexei Ramirez is hovering around the .300 mark at .296? And, oh, that defense.
* Less than two months ago Chris Sale was the club’s No. 1 draft choice out of Florida Gulf Coast University. Is he now headed to Chicago? After four games with Class A Winston-Salem, he was promoted to AAA Charlotte and has struck out 15 in 6 1/3 innings over seven relief appearances. With Carlos Torres shipped back to Charlotte after last night’s start and Erick Threets on the DL, speculation is that Sale might be joining the big club as the second lefty in the pen.
* I wonder how the hapless Orioles will respond to new manager Buck Showalter, who Ozzie sarcastically has referred to as “Mr. Baseball.” If they improve, I hope they start after we leave town next Monday night.
* I’m eager to see Edwin Jackson face his former teammates in Detroit tonight. Would love to see a lights-out performance.
* A big thank you to the Rays, now on top of the A.L. East, for taking the first two games against the Twins.
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Just One of Those Days: A’s 10, White Sox 2

guillen-ozzie080505.jpgIt’s something White Sox fans certainly didn’t want to happen, but the truth is that the South Siders were due to be on the losing side of a blowout as they were this afternoon in 
Oakland. You never like a loss, but this one is a whole lot easier to take than the recent walk-off defeats. I bet even Ozzie would agree with me.
For the record, the last time the Sox lost by as many as five runs was on June 8 in a 7-2 loss at the hands of the Tigers at the Cell. The last time they lost this badly was four days earlier in a 10-1 drubbing by the Indians, also in Chicago.
Since then, there have been the 11 and nine game winning streaks and the Sox have consistently battled and played close games in the losses. So today’s 10-2 result was rare indeed.
Freddy Garcia, the ace of the staff most of this season, was dreadful for a change as he got yanked in the second inning after giving up five runs, six hits and three walks. The only offensive highlight in our four-hit attack was a two-run homer by Ramon Castro which tied the game at 2-2 in the second inning. It was all downhill from there.
The Sox, with Daniel Hudson on the mound, will attempt to win the series against the A’s tomorrow and finish the 10-game Minnesota, Seattle and Oakland road trip at .500.
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