Similar to so many other occasions this season, the Sox were in position last night to finally take a step toward turning around their season of major discontent. Coming home off of a winning road trip at Cleveland and Tampa Bay and facing a June schedule of primarily home games, the scene was set.
It all looked so positive. And it got even better when the South Siders jumped out to a 4-0 lead over the Rangers. But as things turned out, it was fool’s gold. Mark Buehrle imploded in the sixth and the Sox couldn’t come through in clutch situations in the 9-6 loss. Sound familiar?
I’m trying, I’m really trying to believe in this team. Games like last night, however, sour the most loyal and passionate fans–of which I am one.
A week ago, when the White Sox embarked on their seven-game road trip to Cleveland and Tampa Bay, it’s safe to say that we would have been happy with what now has happened–a series win over the Tribe and a split with the Rays.
Of course more would have been better, but the way this season is going a 4-3 mark is satisfactory–with the hope that June will be the time for the turnaround.
The finale in Tampa Bay yesterday, an 8-5 triumph over baseball’s best team, had a lot of heroes. Jayson Nix, who replaced Mark Teahen (injury to right middle finger) at third in the middle of the game, gave the Sox the lead for good in the sixth with a grand slam (pictured above). Alex Rios went 3 for 5 with his 11th homer and a pair of RBI and Juan Pierre made two spectacular catches.
On the pitching side Jake Peavy was nothing special, but got the win. Sergio Santos lowered his ERA to 0.48, Matt Thornton pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings and Tony Pena finished the game by retiring Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena.
Now it’s back to Chicago to face the Rangers, Indians and Tigers. No time to waste.
I agree, it’s a pretty cheap shot to call the Indians a doormat since our Sox are just 1 1/2 games better. But how could I resist the photo? And after enduring the 13-0 debacle against the Marlins on Sunday, I needed some levity.
The Sox, who still won two of three vs. Florida and are playing better baseball, now head to Cleveland for three games and, gulp, Tampa Bay, for four before returning home to face the Rangers, the Indians again and the Tigers.
As Yogi once said, it’s getting late early and the Sox have to look at this stretch as make or break. Either hold their own or start getting rid of some of their own and look ahead to 2011.
Paul Konerko is off to a great start. After today’s two-homer performance, which proved to be the difference in the Sox’s 7-5 come-from-behind win over the Rangers, he is the major league leader with 10 homers along with 18 RBI and a .292 batting average.
Paulie has been only one of a handful of White Sox to play up to expectations so far. Despite that, I have been pretty hard on No. 14 in the form of a couple of semi-snarky comments about his propensity to kill rallies by hitting into ground ball double plays.
Konerko’s double play pattern is frustrating, but where would we be with him? Our disappointing 9-13 record would likely be much worse. So, Paulie, I’m offering you an apology–and I’ll have to somehow live with your frequent DPs.
Sox notes of note: Gavin Floyd was impressive in today’s win. He gave up only a single earned run on five hits with five K’s in seven innings…Before today’s triumph, the Sox had lost six consecutive road games vs. Toronto, Cleveland and Texas with a visit to New York on the horizon. It’s never a picnic for The Good Guys against the Yankees and this year’s version of the Bronx Bombers might even be better than last year’s World Champs. That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing Derek Jeter look something like this following after the three-game series in Gotham. A guy can dream, can’t he?
If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
If it’s not Gordon Beckham, it’s Juan Pierre. If it’s not Carlos Quentin, it’s A.J. Pierzynski. If it’s not Alexei Ramirez, it’s Jake Peavy. And while Paul Konerko has gotten off to a good start with eight homers, his patented ground ball double plays have proven to be a killer. Fellow Pale Hosers, it’s been a tough April.
Any good news? Well, Andruw Jones, Alex Rios and that sweep last weekend against the Mariners, which now seems like the distant past. Last night, in the 6-5 loss to Texas, Peavy settled down after the disastrous first inning, Quentin slammed a three-run homer and Pierzynski got a couple of hits. But in the end, it was still another loss with the Sox record standing at 8-13.
The South Siders try to salvage a game in Arlington this afternoon and then off to, gulp, you know where against you know who.
Let’s face facts, it really wasn’t the Rangers’ backup catcher Matt Treanor who beat Mark Buehrle and the White Sox, 4-2, last night. It was the Sox offense.
It’s true that Treanor, a .226 lifetime hitter who may be better known as the husband of Olympic volleyball gold medalist Misty May, proved to be the difference last night with a homer, double and three RBI. But it wouldn’t have mattered if the Sox had done their collective job–an unfortunate dynamic that’s developed into a pattern for the 2010 South Siders.
Juan Pierre, one of the Sox regulars who have been disappointing so far, said it best after last night’s game.
“I basically just put my uniform on,” said Pierre, who twice failed to drive in runners in scoring position. “I didn’t move the ball well.”
Misty and Matt when he played for the Marlins
We all know that preseason predictions mean nothing–nada, zilch, zero. And while we shouldn’t take them seriously, it’s still a lot of fun–especially when the so-called experts pick your team to win.
Historically, it’s very rare when the baseball media elite pick the White Sox to win their division, let alone the AL pennant or World Series. It’s not that much different this year as the Twins seem to be the most common pick to conquer the AL Central. That said, there are a few “big name” media types among those who have picked the South Siders:
* Hall of Fame electee Bill Madden of the New York Daily News and author of the forthcoming bio of George Steinbrenner.
* Fox Sports‘ Ken Rosenthal, who somewhat tongue-in-cheek picked the Sox to win the World Series while referring to them “Team Wacko.” Think that had anything to do with our Ozzie?
* ESPN‘s Tim Kurkjian, who doesn’t exactly wear a Sox jersey on the weekends.
* Jon Heyman, he of SI, SI.com and the MLB Network.
Since I’m drinking the prediction Kool-Aid, I might as well add my two cents. Here are my divisional picks for 2010:
1. White Sox
2. Red Sox
5. Blue Jays
Prior to to the 2005 season the White Sox were on the verge of signing fielding whiz Omar Vizquel, a move that would have united him with friend and fellow Venezuelan Ozzie Guillen.
At the last minute, however, the 11-time Gold Glover at shortstop opted for a four-year deal with the Giants and, as fate would have it, Juan Uribe
(now a Giant) was the starting shortstop on a World Series-winning team.
Well, Sox fans, Vizquel, who hit .266 in 62 games for the Rangers in 2009 playing second, short and third, could be coming to the South Side after all–four years later. FoxSports.com is reporting that the Pale Hosers are close to signing him as a backup infielder and mentor to Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham, who will be switching to second base from third to make room for newcomer Mark Teahen. Needless to say, Vizquel’s addition would have an impact on Jayson Nix and Brent Lillibridge and their hopes of both making the 25-man roster.
Headline: Andrew Bailey of A’s voted 2009 Baseball Writers’ Association of America AL Rookie of the Year.
Don’t get me wrong. Andrew Bailey is a very worthy choice for the honor with 26 saves and a 1.84 ERA.
What I can’t understand is how Sox rising star Gordon Beckham can win AL Rookie honors from two player polls–Sporting News and the Major League Baseball Players Association–and finish fifth with no first place votes, 11 points behind fourth place and 78 points in back of Bailey. For the record, the Top 5 were Bailey, the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus (65), Rick Porcello of the Tigers (64), the Rays’ Jeff Niemann (21) and Beckham (10).
What do the writers know that the players don’t or vice versa? It just doesn’t make sense.