If I had to choose a Pick To Click winner today, it would be blind luck. Jeff Cox has made his share of bad calls as a third base coach this year. He was about to be accused of making another, sending Brian Anderson home from second base when Paul Konerko, who had just come off the bench to pinch hit for Juan Uribe had a very clutch, very essential single in the 9th. [Once again, no jinxing, just stating the fact that his average is .327 in the month of August.] Brian gets to third, he’s waved around, the throw is made to home plate, we see a camera angle of the ball 10 feet ahead of Brian, but the catcher throws it away and he’s safe! I can see the headlines now: “Jeff Cox: Psychic or Senile?” Bottom of the ninth, two out, and the Sox and Rays are tied 5-5 after trailing 5-4! Cut to the 10th inning, where A.J. Pierzynski gets caught in a rundown following a ground ball by Jermayne Dye. Pierzynski falls and gets tagged after giving Dye a chance to get to first. But, wait! A.J. backed up into one of the fielders! He claims interference and interference is granted! A.J. gets to stay on 3rd. With Jim Thome at bat and only one out, the Rays walk Thome to get to Ramirez or B.A.. Well, needless to say, all it took was a base hit from Ramirez and this game was over! With a little help from the Angels (the LA Angels of Anaheim, not the ones above- although…), the Sox are back in first place.
Mark Buehrle was the starting pitcher today. And of the 5 runs he allowed, only 2 were earned. There were a couple of errors (Swish, Cabrera) collected by the Sox again and against Tampa, like the Twins, you can’t make mistakes! And especially with Mark Buehrle, who is a ground ball guy that relies on his fielders to get out of trouble (and who can’t pitch around errors). However, his pitching wasn’t abysmal. He gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 5. He was followed up by D.J. Carrasco and a rare 2-inning outing by Bobby Jenks, who did their job to keep Tampa from doing any more damage.
And the offense was having a hard time manufacturing a run. There were two lucky two-run homers (By TCQ who is now at 36 for the year, and Jim Thome who was 3 for 4 with an intentional walk.), but there were a lot of men stranded- particularly due to double plays. Uribe and Swish couldn’t muster up hits today and either could Ramirez until the very end of the game. Credit goes to Griffey for hitting the double (had it been any other runner, it might have been a triple, but okay) that got the offense started in the 9th, but he continues to ground out to first on a regular basis.
It is good to pick up a win at the end of this very rough series. I think what I took away from the series were worries about pitching in the late innings (both by starting pitchers and making decisions on when they should be taken out and about the consistency of our relievers) and worries about the ability of the Sox to score without the long-ball. And, as Jermaine Dye showed yesterday, long-balls are no good if they’re not paired with the prerequisite base hits.
And just a quick Crede update: he finally had himself a hit in Charlotte today. In fact, he had a double order of singles and is 1-for-13 since resuming his assignment this week. It should only be a matter of time until he returns to the Sox lineup.