It wasn’t the colossal disaster that occurred last Sunday in Minnesota, which caused normally sane White Sox fans to consider taking a plunge off of the closest ledge, but Bobby Jenks‘ second meltdown in four days is a cause for great concern.
So great, in fact, that Ozzie is on record is saying that he’s now weighing his options for the closer role: “I get paid to win games. That’s my job, win games,” Guillen said after last night’s heartbreaking 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Mariners where Jenks blew a save. “And I’m going to put the guys there with the best shot.”
This kind of decision involving a pitcher who has been a key cog in the Sox success since joining the club in 2005, can’t be easy for Ozzie. That said, unlike most managers, he does have bullpen depth and legitimate options in former standout closer J.J. Putz, who just set a club record for consecutive scoreless appearances, and All-Star Matt Thornton. You might want to throw Sergio Santos into the mix as well.
The closer decision aside, I’m personally concerned for my health, the health of my Sox posse and Pale Hose fans in general if we have many more of these games. I can intellectualize that it’s a long season, that I need to avoid the peaks and valleys and there is always a chance for redemption the next day–something that happened to the Sox in the two games following Sunday’s debacle. But I’m human and don’t react very well to these losses.
On the bright side, I look at the standings and see we’re still in first place, 2 1/2 games ahead. A whole lot better than in April and May when I thought our season was over.
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.
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.
Jake Peavy, he of the bad wing, was simply amazing this afternoon in our nation’s capital. A complete game 1-0 three-hit shutout over the Nationals was a whole lot more than we expected.
Where the Sox are now is even more hard to believe after our miserable start. But that’s baseball. Here are some things to chew on:
—We have now won five in a row.
–We’ve won nine of 10 and 10 of 12.
–We are 9-2 against the NL.
–A win tomorrow will put us at .500
—Ozzie‘s smart ball is at work. We haven’t hit a homer since last Friday–seven games ago.
–We squeaked by today without our two best hitters, Alex Rios and Paul Konerko, in the lineup. Dayan Viciedo didn’t make his big league debut. Should start tomorrow.
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.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another for our unpredictable skipper.
Probably needing some distraction from his club’s disappointing start, Ozzie did a favor for a friend that is sure to get the “always-ready-for-an-Ozzie-story” national media all abuzz.
The favor? Guillen signed two baseballs that tweaked Cleveland about two very sensitive subjects–the city’s lack of championships and the possible loss of LeBron James. Here, see for yourself.
The game got off to an awful start. After both Ozzie and Mark Buehrle were tossed early in the game by veteran umpire Cowboy Joe West–Guillen for arguing a balk call and Buehrle for tossing his glove in disgust after committing his second balk–things looked rather dim as Randy Williams jogged to the mound to relieve Mr. Perfect.
Williams didn’t last long, giving up a run and three hits in 2/3 of an inning. But the day was saved by Tony Pena (above), who pitched four scoreless frames while allowing only two hits. Offensively, Mark Kotsay smashed a homer with a man on and Mark Teahen clubbed a two-out, two-run double. The Sox needed every bit of it in the 5-4 win today against the Indians as Bobby Jenks imploded in the ninth by giving up three runs before getting out of a bases loaded, one-out jam.
Aside from being credited with the victory, Pena’s noble performance also saved the bullpen from work it didn’t need. The Buehrle ejection and the potential negative impact it could have had on the pen was the last thing we needed heading into a four-game series in St. Pete against the Rays. Hopefully Pena’s rescue effort will pay dividends this weekend.
White Sox fans have found numerous ways to describe what has happened in the season’s first two months–some of which is inappropriate to post in a family blog.
Following yet another bump in the road last night in Cleveland, Our Ozzie pretty much summed it up:
“You know, every day we go out there and think we’re on a roll, and then all of a sudden we stop,” said Guillen after the Sox dropped a disappointing 7-3 decision to the Tribe. “That has been this team all year long.”
If the White Sox are going to make us believe 2010 isn’t over, it’s time to prove it.
Freddy Garcia‘s stellar performance and a couple of clutch two-out hits in yesterday’s 6-2 win over the Tigers once again gave us some hope. But we’ve seen too many one-game winning streaks. So. the homestand that starts tonight with two against the Angels and three against the Marlins will go a long way in determining our fate. Our Ozzie certainly senses it and knows full well how hard it’s been to put a winning streak together–even a two-game streak.
“If I believe in God, I need a win (Wednesday),” Guillen joked. “Then I start believing in God.”
Like most White Sox fans I’m looking for signs. Signs that the Sox will bust out of their inconsistent play, go on a run and enjoy a lot more post-game celebrations.
Winning their second series of the season this week–the first against a division opponent–is a start. Jake Peavy‘s performance on Monday and Freddy Garcia‘s outing last night were encouraging, as was the nine-run outburst led by Andruw Jones and Alex Rios on Wednesday. But the inconsistency reared its ugly head on Tuesday in the 7-2 drubbing at the hands of the Royals, forcing Sox Nation to scratch their heads in confusion.
This weekend’s series should be telling. The Sox face the Blue Jays in a four-game set. Toronto is holding its own in the AL East and boasts a talented starting staff. One of the questions here is if the Sox staff, so highly touted entering the season, can match up with them. It’s almost been as baffling as the sometimes non-existent offense
“On paper, we were one of the best, and now when you look at that paper, we’re one of the worst in the league,” Mark Buehrle told the Sun-Times. “We haven’t done our job, and us going out there and lasting four, five innings messes up the bullpen. I think you point fingers at us on why they’ve had some problems in the bullpen.”
Tonight it’s John Danks (3-0, 1.85 ERA), the lone consistent performer on the Sox staff, vs. Dana Eveland (2-1, 4.76) who was impressive against us in Toronto. Tomorrow night it’s Buehrle (2-4, 5.30) vs. Shaun Marcum (1-1, 3.12). It’ll be Peavy (1-2, 6.31) vs. Brett Cecil (2-1, 2.61) on Saturday night and Gavin Floyd (1-3, 6.89) vs. Ricky Romero (3-1, 3.00) on Sunday afternoon.
“Everything in life is about consistency,” our Ozzie told reporters. “When you’re not consistent doing something, you’re always going to fail. I think that happened here.”