Saturday, July 12, 2008

Good Signs From Konerko: Sox - Rangers Game 2

The only term I can think of that can describe the opposite of a Golden Sombrero is perhaps a Silver Slugger. Don’t get ahead of me, I won’t suggest giving any award to Paul Konerko just yet, but I am hoping that his going 4-for-4 is the beginning of a great comeback. Even if it is not, it was the fluke that was the best thing that has happened to this team since about the time the Sox played the Twins. John Danks has another successful Sox outing, as the team defeats the Texas Rangers 9-7, maintaining their 1.5 game lead over Minnesota.

The first inning was anything but smooth. O.C. and A.J. both struck out, and Carlos Quentin left me wondering how he could lack hits so often, yet still bat at .273. John Danks had a great first inning, but got a preview of what was to come with Josh Hamilton. In case you were wondering, the hit machine that is Hamilton is batting .314 with 21 home runs and 95 RBI. Despite meeting good hitters, Danks made it into the eighth, when Dotel was brought in (then quickly traded for Boone Logan). Other worries early in the game came from A.J.’s second at-bat. A low pitch hit Pierzynski in what appeared to be the ankle (It later turned out to be his calf muscle) hard enough to knock him to the ground and badly enough that we got to see Toby Hall again. From what I understand, today is A.J.’s last game until after the All-Star break.

Thankfully, the Sox offense smoothed over the rough start. There were several cheer-inducing moments in tonight’s game. Jim Thome brought in Carlos Quentin with a two-run homer, followed by a solo run by Paul Konerko. Several of the players got two hits, including a triple by Dye, and a single followed by a two-base steal by Ramirez. Carlos had two doubles, and Cabrera picked up his fifteenth stolen base. Brian Anderson saved a very deep drive from bouncing off the wall and turning into another Ranger run, and there was a moment that can only be called miraculous to end the game. After catching what the announcers deemed and uncatchable ball, Ramirez made his own throw to Swisher, who dived backward and still caught the ball for the final out of the night.

While all those moments are wonderful and the men tallied a win, I’m not ready to write this game off as a success just yet. A 5-run lead was shortened with a close 2-run difference in scores. There were some disasters in the field, as well. I was ready to praise Joe Crede for starting off the day with a base hit “in the clutch,” but he was single-handedly responsible for at least one instance of being the one to make nothing of a bases-loaded situation. There were, in fact, three innings that ended with bases loaded, and only once did someone (Konerko) drive a run in, only to be stranded on base shortly afterward. If there's one smart thing that Hawk and D.J. have said today (and that's rare), it's that whenever such situations (men on base and two outs) occur, our hitters feel like they are in trouble, not the pitcher. Just one of the issues our team needs to overcome in the second half of the season...

Scattered quotes from my notes: “Texas uses ‘Nananana, hey hey, goodbye,’ when Boone Logan departed. That’s a nice move to steal, but not when the team you stole it from is in town,” and, “Hawk just pointed out that Joe Crede took first pitch outside. He’s not wrong. Joe must be, though, for wearing the number 14 and suddenly doing a very convincing Paul Konerko impression. Oh, wait a minute… That is Paul Konerko! If I had Hawk's nose full of nickels for every time I would have rather heard commentary on what was actually happening the game instead of stories about your career…”

Hopefully the Sox can win another game tomorrow. If everyone can stay consistent at bat tomorrow, even with Toby Hall catching and Jose Contreras pitching, the Sox can have a strong finish in their last game before the All-Star break.

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