Results tagged ‘ Paul Konerko ’

Is Sox Rebound Justin Time?

It’s only one game, but if the White Sox continue to play like they did in last night’s 8-2 win over ace Justin Verlander and Tigers, I’m “All In.”

For those of us who endured the season’s first half, the victory was a bit of a shock to our systems. We saw several things we rarely or never saw before the All-Star break. Here’s a sampling:

–A win over the Tigers

–A triumph in the A.L. Central

–Soundly defeating Verlander, arguably the league’s hottest pitcher

–An eight-run outburst

–A solid performance by Gavin Floyd

–A clutch single by Adam Dunn that drove in a pair of runs

–A terrific outing by Will Ohman, who has significantly improved since the start of the season

–A pair of hits and sparkling defense by Mark Teahen

–Key production from Gordon Beckham, who is looking to recapture his rookie form

All this and the usual solid performances by our All-Stars, Paul Konerko (a hit, three walks and a run scored) and Carlos Quentin (3 for 5 with three RBIs), made it a fun return to Sox baseball.

It’s premature to pop the champagne and if the South Siders don’t win this series we’re back to where we were. But I’m cautiously optimistic that the second half will be different than the first.

Konerko is a Paul Star

Thanks to his terrific first half and a masterful marketing effort by the White Sox, Paul Konerko won the “Final Vote” to take his rightful place alongside teammate Carlos Quentin on the A.L. All-Star team.

The following quote from Konerko, about the team’s effort to get him to the midsummer classic, is something special. When was the last time a modern-day athlete expressed his gratitude in this manner?:

“The front office and the public relations people have done a great job. I feel bad that every year our team seems to have to go through this big production. And they do a heck of a job. In fact people come in here on off days when they shouldn’t be working. And I definitely appreciate that.”

It’s the Offense, Stupid!

Some may point to the fact that Jake Peavy was off of his game last night, giving up five runs, six hits, a pair of walks and a crucial two-out, two-RBI single to journeyman catcher Matt Treanor in six innings of work.

But the truth is that it was the offense that has to bear the bulk of responsibility for last night’s 5-3 loss to the Royals. It wasn’t about getting on base, but rather the season-long problem of clutch hitting. The Sox collected 13 hits and a pair of walks, but stranded 13 runners. The math is simple: if just three of those runners had crossed home plate, the loss would have been a victory.

As Ozzie said after the game, “We’re so unpredictable…We struggle with people on base, and like I preach, we have to get better than that. We need big hits…”

Paul Konerko again was the center of the offense, going 3 for 5 with a homer and two RBIs. And A.J. Pierzynski (3), Omar Vizquel (2), Juan Pierre (2) and Carlos Quentin (2) had multiple hit games, but only Quentin drove in a run. With Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez out of the lineup, Adam Dunn, Brent Lillibridge and Gordon Beckham went 0 for 13 with seven strikeouts.

Remember what Ozzie said: “We have to get better than that.”

Letdown Sunday

Any hope of a sweep and the chance of getting above the .500 mark were dashed big-time this afternoon by a journeyman pitcher who was 0-2 with a 5.40 earned run average in 2011 and had a lifetime 75-84 record and a 4.86 ERA going into today’s game.

In seven innings, Rodrigo Lopez, who has pitched for the Padres, Orioles, Rockies, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Cubs in his 10 undistinguished seasons, shut out the Sox with only two hits in his seven innings on the Wrigley mound and the Cubs hung on to win 3-1. Gavin Floyd was decent for the Sox, but had his usual bad inning and now has the dubious distinction of being the losing pitcher in both losses to the Cubs this season.

Offensively, The Sox scored their run against Kerry Wood in the eighth and got the tying runs on the bases, but Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol shut the door with no further damage and Marmol did likewise in the ninth. And you knew this was coming: Adam Dunn was 0-4 with a strikeout, dropping his batting average to .165. There’s really nothing left to say. We’re lucky to be only 3 1/2 games out of first with the once-potent slugger doing absolutely nothing to help the cause.

The Sox head to the South Side for three against the Royals and four against the Twins before leaving for the All-Star break.

Sox Notes of Note: Carlos Quentin was named the lone Sox All-Star with Paul Konerko still having a chance in the final online vote. In an effort to get him on the team, the White Sox have created the campaign, “PaulStar.” For the record, the club has had great success with the “final vote” in the past as fans have voted in both Scott Podsednik and A.J. Pierzynski. Although Konerko unquestionably belongs by virtue of his terrific season, it’s hard to argue with the two first basemen who did make it–Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera.

Here’s A.J. showing who he’ll be voting for:

Nice Win, But We Live in a Real World

Twenty-four hours ago, my Sox posse and I were lamenting the 6-3 loss to the Cubs in the opener of the Crosstown Series.

One day later, we have claimed an impressive 3-2 rain-delayed win over the North Siders, gained a full game on the first place Indians, to move within 4 1/2 games of first place, and have inched closer to the elusive .500 mark (36-39).

While all of us are feeling better this morning, we can’t ignore three dark clouds that need to clear out before we seriously think postseason:

  • Adam Dunn
  • Alex Rios
  • Gordon Beckham
Dunn — As documented here and everywhere, Dunn has been a failure of monumental proportion. Here we are on June 21 and the slugger who consistently has hit in the 40 homer and 100 RBI range, has smashed just seven HR and driven in 29. Most alarming, of course are his 91 strikeouts in 64 games and his .175 batting average.  It won’t happen for a variety of reasons, but how about recalling Dayan Viciedo to share DH duties and play a little right field? We can’t endure Dunn much longer if he doesn’t snap out of it.
Rios — If it weren’t for Dunn’s woes, Rios would be the main whipping boy. After last season we thought he figured it out, but apparently not. Hitting .212 with six homers and 20 RBIs, he’s looked lost at the plate for the most part and  it seems his offense has affected his defense. He doesn’t seem to be the same “money” centerfielder as he was last season. The good news is that he’s come alive a bit lately.
Beckham — Although it hasn’t gotten the notice–or the blame–of the others, you can make a case that Beckham is the biggest disappointment of all. In his first season (2009), when he was named Rookie of the Year by two peer groups, he was as close to a sure thing as we’ve had since the days of Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura and Jack McDowell. But he began his sophomore season in a horrific slump, came on during the summer and ended the season injured. This year, he looks like another average major league infielder, not the perennial All-Star we thought he would be. There is still time for him to get back to his “glory days,” but if it doesn’t happen it’ll be a colossal disappointment to the organization and its fan base.
On a more positive note, how about that Konerko? He’s absolutely on fire with his 21 homers, 59 RBIs, 331 BA and 1.010 OPS. Not to mention having hit HR in five consecutive games.

Questions Answered

Going into this afternoon’s rubber game against the D-backs, I had some questions:

  • Could the Sox hold their own defensively with Mark Teahen at third and Adam Dunn in right?
  • Would  one-time journeyman Phil Humber continue his mastery of major league hitters?
  • Could the inconsistent Pale Hose offense score some runs off of Arizona’s Josh Collmentor, who entered the game with a 4-2 record and a 1.86 ERA?

With the 8-2 White Sox victory, the answers are yes, yes and yes.

Teahen was outstanding at third, Dunn made a nice catch in his only chance and Humber was magnificent, pitching seven scoreless innings before leaving after allowing a pair of runs in the eighth. The former No. 1 draft pick of the Mets is now a sparkling 7-3 with a 2.90 ERA.

Holding on to a 1-0 lead through six innings, the South Siders scored two in the seventh on solo homers by Paul Konerko and the suddenly rejuvenated Alex Rios. The Sox added five more in the eighth, highlighted by a bases-clearing double by A.J. Pierzynski.

Fasten your seat belts. It’s Sox vs. Cubs the next three nights at the Cell. How about a sweep to get us to .500?

Sox Note of Note: Konerko, who grew up in the Phoenix area, put on a show in the three-game series, hitting homers in each of the three games. His monster season now shows a .327 BA with 19 homers and 56 RBIs. Where would we be without him?

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Many of the most cherished moments with my now 88-year-old Dad, Seymour Berke, have been following the White Sox and going to countless games at old Comiskey and the Cell. In 1959, my Dad was able to get two tickets to Game 1 of the World Series, which the South Siders won 11-0. The bad news is that he had to work and didn’t go with me. For the next 46 years I regretted that I never got to go to a Sox World Series game with him. Then, in 2005, my disappointment ended. There we were at Game 1 of the ’05 Series witnessing the 5-3 win over the Astros.

It was a priceless moment that neither of us will ever forget. Sometimes I look back and think it was too good to be true, but I see that picture of the two of us in our Sox jackets and I know it really happened. And his comment after our heroes had finally won the World Series in Houston, was just as memorable. He said,  ”All those games, all those years, we finally did it.”

Happy Father’s Day, Dad, and thanks.

Sox Notes of Note:  Last night’s much-needed 6-2 win over the D-backs was a combination of surprise–Alex Rios‘ homer and four RBIs–and same old, same old, with Paul Konerko‘s 18th homer of the season. And it is comforting to know that John Danks is on the way back with his third consective win…We all breathed a sigh of relief when Danks was able to recover from being hit on the back of the head off the bat of Stephen Drew (He’s pictured below showing off the subsequent bump). It resulted in two Arizona runs, but that was the least of our worries at the time. …It apparently was a night danger as a Brent Lillibridge foul ball hit Konerko’s brother (thumb) and Paulie’s father (chin). Both were sitting right behind the Sox dugout…Sox try to end the road trip at 2-3 this afternoon with Phil Humber on the mound before heading back to the Cell to face the Cubs.

Whew!

Admit it, you were asking yourself the same question I was asking myself in the ninth inning of today’s series finale against the A’s: Is it possible that Sergio Santos will blow two 5-3 leads in the ninth in the same series?

Thankfully the answer is no, but it wasn’t easy. The Sox closer escaped a heap full of self-induced trouble with the benefit of a favorable call to end the game as Sox nemesis Coco Crisp was called out on a bang-bang play at first, stranding the tying and lead runs.

For the middle of June, there was a lot at stake today. The win shaped the following headlines:

* The Sox are now only 3 1/2 games behind the A.L. Central lead as the pacesetting Tigers and Indians both lost.

* The South Siders moved to within two games of the .500 mark with the 6-4 homestand and are 33-35 as they head to Minnesota and Phoenix. A far cry from where we were a few weeks ago.

* Phil Humber, the find of the year, won his sixth game with yet another fine outing.

* Adam Dunn‘s three-run homer, his seventh, was a sight to behold.

* Like Dunn, it looks like Matt Thornton, who pitched a scoreless, hitless eighth, has turned things around.

* Paul Konerko drove in his 52nd run and trails only Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez among A.L. sluggers.

King Felix? No Problem

The White Sox “To Do” list for the stretch of games vs. the the Mariners and A’s, beginning on June 6:

* Bounce back from the lost weekend series with Detroit…check

* Defeat Seattle’s rookie pitching sensation Michael Pinedacheck

* Find a way to beat 2010 Cy Young Award winner “King Felix” Hernandezcheck

* Overcome Mariners’ tough lefty Jason Vargas tonight for the sweep…mission pending

* Win the four-game series vs. Oakland, which begins on Thursday…pending

So far, so good, as the Sox continue their effort to accomplish everything on their check list. There’s much more to be done, but last night’s impressive 5-1 win over King Felix and his teammates was particularly satisfying.

Before the season, if you would have told me we’d be facing Hernandez without Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez in the starting lineup, I would have said we have little chance. But that’s exactly what occurred last night as the struggling (to say it mildly) Dunn and Rios were on the bench (Rios did pinch run and played defensively in the ninth) and Ramirez was given a rest in favor of Omar Vizquel.

Vizquel wasn’t simply Ramirez’s replacement, he was one of the game’s heroes. His triple drove in a pair of runs in the Sox four-run third inning. Along with Paul Konerko’s 14th homer and Carlos Quentin‘s two-run blast, his 15th, it provided more than enough offense for the victory.

And, of course, there was another virtuoso performance by the South Siders’ unlikely pitching ace, Phil Humber.  The former No. 1 draft choice of the Mets won his fifth game, allowing only a single run on five hits in 7 2/3 innings as he lowered his ERA to 2.87. Humber left the game in the eighth to a standing ovation.

Just think where we’d be without him.

We Need More Nights Like This

uYNIgGIU.jpgDuring the course of the long baseball season, certain games stand out as being more memorable, more significant or both. For a variety of reasons, we know last night’s 10-inning, come-from-behind White Sox victory over the Angels was memorable. Our hope is that as the season moves on, it will hold a great deal of significance as one of the key moments in the Sox turnaround.
Why was last night so memorable?
–It was Jake Peavy‘s 2011 debut as he pitched six innings, allowing four runs and seven hits along with zero walks and four strikeouts. No one could mistake him for Roy Halladay or even the Peavy of old, but considering the circumstances the effort should certainly be considered a success.
–The Pale Hose completed their second consecutive West Coast series victory.
–The Sox were able to rally for two in the ninth and two in the 10th to chalk up the “W” when all seemed lost–something that hasn’t been done much in this young season.
–We witnessed a rarity in the 10th inning as the winning run scored from third on a wild pitch as Angel pitcher Kevin Jepsen was intentionally walking Paul Konerko with runners on second and third.
–Being at the plate during the intentional walk/wild pitch in the 10th was only the beginning of an inning for the ages for Konerko.  It started with the walk and continued as he proceeded to steal second base (who, Paulie?). In the bottom of the frame, he made a spectacular leaping catch off the bat of Maicer Izturis for out No. 2 (who, Paulie?) and ended the game with a behind-the-back toss to Matt Thornton on a bunt by Torii Hunter (See photo above of Konerko and Thornton having a laugh over it). It undoubtedly brought to mind Mark Buehrle‘s award-winning between-the-legs play last season and prompted A.J. Pierzynski to joke, “Konerko had the best five minutes of his life.”
–In that Thornton recorded the last out in a 6-4 game, it’s obvious that he got credit for the save. But let me underscore that: the 2010 All-Star actually recorded a save after three losses and four blown attempts.
Adam Dunn continued to climb out of his early season hole by smashing a homer and a double and reaching base five times.
Sergio Santos continued his year-long Mariano Rivera imitation as he pitched two scoreless innings. His ERA remains at 0.00.
The South Siders are still eight games under .500, 9 1/2 games behind the first place Tribe and their winning percentage is better than only the Twins and Astros. But I’m enjoying this victory as much as any other this season and hoping it’s a sign of good things to come.
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