Sunday, September 7, 2008

First Place Showdown: Sox -Angels Game 1 & 2

I don’t have the appropriate cable set-up or patience to follow every team in baseball, so when it came to the Angels, all I knew was what I saw previously (The Sox had a 3-4 record against them) and from when I heard the Hawk and DJ say the Angels are arguably one of the best teams in baseball. Well, they’re 16 games ahead of their division, (which may not be saying much, considering who they play) but they have one of the best records in baseball. I thought they would really put up a fight and make it difficult for the Sox. (Especially without Carlos in the lineup!) Fortunately, the Sox understood the importance of these games and extended their lead over the Twins to 2.5 games.

The first game was a great one for the Sox. Friday, the Sox pulled together their offense, pitched like it was their job, and kept the Angels in check for a 10-2 victory. Well, that was nice and all, but I wasn’t ready to get too comfortable just yet.

While we had our ace on the mound (The good Buehrle), the starting pitcher for the Angels, Moseley, was a farm hand- and not exactly a good one. His numbers in AAA were pretty bad, and his numbers in the majors were even worse. If we didn’t blow him out of the water, it would have been a problem. The next pitcher may not be as kind to the Sox, I thought.

There was good news, though. I know I keep saying I don’t want to jinx Konerko, but something needs to be said and the Kaptain really deserves a pat on the back. He’s not just back to the good PK; he is on a tear! Before Saturday’s game, he was hitting .500 in his last 4 games, .438 in his last 10, and .365 in the last 30 days. Now, odds are he won’t be able to keep this up, but the fact that he’s not batting as if he’s under the influence of sedatives is a great sign. Juan Uribe finally caught up to some of those fastballs he’s been chasing, and made two of them (!!) into 2-run homers. JD went 3 for 3 with a walk, Griffey contributed with a 2-RBI single, and Ramirez and Anderson contributed to the run total.

Today’s game wasn’t the train wreck I expected. Floyd didn’t have a great day. He gave up 5 runs, 3 of which were homers. He had a mediocre 4 strikeouts, walked 2, gave up 7 hits. The good news was that he went 7 innings on 102 pitches. (Imagine the same game with Gavin exiting around the 5th. Long story short, the game would have ended a lot sooner- and probably at the hands of Boone Logan.) [This feature] from Beyond the Box Score talked about how lucky Gav was that many of his fly balls weren’t homers. Well, today, they really caught up with him. Jenks gave up a solo shot of his own (the 2nd he gave up this year), but there was plenty of good news from the ‘pen. Dotel struck out 2, gave up no more runs. MacDougal gave up a hit in 1.1 innings, but no runs. Thornton gave up a hit in 2.2 innings, but struck out 3 and gave up no runs, Horacio Ramirez didn’t spoil our game today even though he walked a guy, and Ehren Wasserman faced just one guy a struck him out. You know what this mean… if we have a [John Danks Special] tomorrow, just a warning: the only guys that weren’t used today are Logan, Linebrink, Russell, Carrasco (who is as good as used, considering how often he’s called upon) and the person who is quickly becoming the Brian Anderson of the bullpen (send him in if you’re leading by 13 and you need someone to rest)- Lance Broadway.

I would like to give you a play by play of the brain fart also known as the bottom of the 10th inning. I think the tagline for that painful time in the Sox’ life would be, “How we kicked a gift horse in the mouth.” A.J. almost ground out, but a bad throw planted the ball into the visitors’ dugout and A.J. got to 2nd. J.D. was next and he only got on base because the short stop was just short of catching the ball. Runners on 1st and 3rd, no outs. All they needed was a sac fly and the game would have been over! But, no. Give Thome a K, and send him to the bench. Konerko was next and he was about to groundout around 3rd, but some questionable base running on AJ’s part took him out of scoring position, so Konerko made it to first. Apparently, no one bothered to tell Griffey that there were 2 outs (or he simply doesn’t understand the rules of baseball), because his “sacrificed fly” was 2 outs too late and that was that.

Thankfully, (SOMEHOW) the Sox stayed in the game. Konerko had a home run. So did Swisher. And Thome’s walk-off homer in the bottom of the 15th, his 30th of the year put everyone out of their misery and ended the game. Thankfully, there was enough time for everyone to get at least one hit today. Oh, yeah- except for Josh Fields. [Booger] struck out twice. On the bright side, he looked less confused on 3rd today. He helped turn almost two double plays. Speaking of pinch runners that had no purpose: Jerry Owens got a hit and stole a base today- not before being thrown out at second by a mile, trying to get there on a fly out .

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