Friday, July 18, 2008

Is it a Rally if it's in the First?: Sox - Royals Game 1

It was a sad day to proclaim yourself a fan of KC’s Grienke. The first inning ended with A.J. Pierzynski. No, there was no change in the lineup, he was up to bat for the second time, after 9 consecutive Sox players had reached base and 6 crossed home plate safely. Grienke threw 28 pitches in what must have been the longest inning of his life. The Royals had a pitcher in the bullpen before the first inning was over. On the other hand, the inning was a dream come true for me and Sox fans everywhere. By the top second inning, someone asked me about Buehrle’s pitching and I honestly could not remember- I was that overwhelmed by the success the Sox had found at bat. In fact, the only Sox player to find no success at bat today was Alexei Ramirez. In a strong outing, the Sox defeated the Kansas City Royals 9-5.

To get back to the question I was asked, Buehrle had a good outing, backed up by Thorton and Dotel. Masset was out as well, but he had an unremarkable outing (typical as of late). Had his inning called for damage control, he would have failed. Thankfully for Masset, any damage done was held off by continued success at bat. As I wrote before, all the hitters but Ramirez had at least one hit. Even Ramirez contributed with a sacrificed fly. (As did Crede, but that’s just the norm for his at-bats. And if he’s not popping out in the infield, he’s just 2 inches away from a homer run.) Dye lead the hitters with three hits and walked after drawing 13 pitches from Grienke, and Crede and Quentin had two hits each. The latter’s first official at-bat resulted in home run #23 for the year after picking up another stat: the 13th time this year that he was hit by a pitch. Thome and Swisher were also walked after a torturous (To Grienke, that is) 7-8 pitches each. Swisher’s walk also meant Jermaine Dye would walk to home.

The offense today was surprising. Both in bad and good way. Alexei picked up another error (he’s getting a bit sloppy on the field and at bat), as did Crede. While Crede picked up his 18th error, he also made one of his trademark inning-ending dive-catch-tag combinations. So then, does a spectacular save make up for adding to a massive error total? Nick Swisher was surprising today. The batter hit the ball so far, I was ready to mark it off as a home run. It would be a double, at least, based on Swisher’s track record, but after a sprint and controlled catch, the ball landed safely in his glove! A good day overall for Nick.

Other notes about tonight’s game? I still don’t agree with the decision to keep Buehrle into the 7th. Sure, he had a good 7th inning, but he is often kept out in the field too long. He usually doesn’t cause the damage that Contreras would had he been in his place, but it’s important for starters to be just that: starters, not relievers, not closers. Continuing on that line of thought, Dotel made a pretty good closer, but I am glad to hear that Jenks is back from assignment/rehab/the DL. Today was another instance of the team getting another bases loaded-then stranded situation. No outs, then Konerko-Swish-Crede. When will someone realize that those three are too unreliable to be at bat consecutively? And just for the record, I hate everything about Mike Teahen! He’s going to be nothing but a pain for the rest of the weekend!

Join the Sox tomorrow at 6:05 with Gavin Floyd pitching against the Royals.

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