Saturday, August 22, 2009

Danks Holds On To That Feeling (in his finger)

I missed yesterday’s game- and I’m infinitely grateful for that. I almost wished I missed today’s game. John Danks sputtered and stuttered and struggled worse than I’d seen anyone struggle since I saw Bartolo Colon’s donkey carrying him up a mountain. [Har-har! Fat jokes!] Apparently, Danks’s circulatory problem was far from under control. A close-up of his fingers showed it looking purple. In one inning, he walked three, gave up a base hit, and threw 36 pitches. D.J. Carrasco was in the bullpen in the third inning and I imagined Tony Pena or Randy Williams forced to hold down the Orioles single-handedly through 4 or so innings until Ozzie could revert to the Thornton/Dotel/Jenks formula. And you know what? He made it through 6.1 inning, and no Orioles scored until after his exit. I think I didn’t breathe at all until Danks passed the ball to Ozzie.

The Sox posted [some article] right before the game on their website, attributing the circulatory problems to dip. Now, it’s odd that this circulatory problem was never brought up. The most the fans got was news about a blister. The blisters are supposedly related, but why is today the day they picked to talk about the dip thing. I almost feel like it was some kind of conspiracy.

In other news, Carlos Quentin hit a monster home. Gordon Beckham is playing some defense on third base that would rival Joe Crede’s. A.J. Pierzynski – the smartest, best base runner in the American League- was thrown out at third, costing the Sox a run. And the Sox beat the curse. I always say they can’t hit a pitcher they’ve never faced before. Today, they forced him out after just a few innings!

Alright, that’s about all I have for today. Catch the finale tomorrow, when Mark Buehrle is up to the mound.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Jose Contreras must have some sort of time machine. Maybe he has some sort of muscle memory that lasts over a month rather than one motion. Maybe it was the socks. Either way, he did it! Jose Contreras pulled 7 innings and just one run out of his derrière. After pitching 4.1 innings and allowing 6 runs last time. And 4.2 innings and allowing 4 runs the time before that. And the time after that, just 2.2 innings and allowing 3 runs. Did I mention that he had 8 strike-outs? I don’t get it. Why is it that he can get completely dominated one week and then throw a near shut-out the next?

Well, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it happened. And after Freddy Garcia was unable to hold the Royals, Contreras managed to stop the bleed and got the Sox within 2 games of first place again.

Guess what else is back to form? The longball. Well… maybe not. HOWEVER, 3 of yesterday’s 4 runs came from solo home runs from Rios, Beckham, and Quentin. Good to see that all these fellas still have some thunder in their bats.

As for the day before, it was about 5 innings of work for Freddy Garcia, about 4 runs, and an overall loss. It’s clear that Freddy isn’t quite ready to be an ace for any team. Supposedly, he can’t get excited enough to pitch for the Royals, but I’m not quite sure it’s that as much as him being out of practice and ready for retirement.

In the future, we’re about to see the Orioles, and they’ve been on a downward skid. Meanwhile, we’re putting our number 1-3 pitchers out there. Sounds good, right? Let’s hope so, because if there’s ever a time to catch up, it’s now. Not when we head to the likes of Fenway Park.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Royals Get Wrong End of Pendulum

I didn’t think I’d get a chance to update today, what with the on and off rain, but seeing as I had internet access today and the game was just delayed rather than postponed, I had to take advantage. So, I took notes, kept up with everyone’s tweets, and here it is! 2 posts on 2 days!
The game started uneventfully, so we got to hear an earful from Hawk. Among his many gems about getting hit hard and hitting it hard, I cringed at hearing, “he just continued to pound us inside.” Things of that nature are very distracting. In the meantime, I jotted down how I still hated Mark Teahen. And that I still liked Alex Gordon, although he only made his appearance somewhere in the 8th inning.

Mark Buehrle was making me surly. 2 outs, 3 runs in the 2nd. He was already at 81 pitches in the 5th. Not even one K for Buehrle on the night. However, he must’ve sold his soul for the inning ending double play with the bases loaded in the 4th. Aside from the no-run-14-inning-mess in Seattle, Buehrle hasn’t made a good, solid appearance since his Perfect Game. Is it a curse, the same way it was in 2007?

I had started off by saying that I was still not excited about Alex Rios (especially since he seemed to be at the heart of another outfield error). Or as I can’t help but thinking every time I see him, “Javy Vazquez.” Tell me those two aren’t twins? (Not the Minnesota kind.) Anyway, he shoved my size 6 and a half food right in my 6 foot wide mouth. To prove me wrong, Rios triples (double + error) in the 6th to tie game. I’m sure Carlos’s leg is feeling grrrreat after running from first (He had gotten on base after being hit by a pitch.) Alright, he’s okay, let’s not call him a bust just yet.

Memorable: Jayson Nix puts the Sox on the board with a 2-run home with 2 outs in the 2nd. Scotty’s RBI ties game in the 4th. Alexei scores from 1st. A.J. Pierzynski knocks a 2-run homer with 2 outs in 7th as rain pelts down. Scotty’s single in the 8th and a bobble scores Rios to get the lead back. It also adds more fuel to Hawk’s “dreaded leadoff walk” fire.

Questionable: Thornton was already out in the 7th. Understandable (Buehrle was done-zo by the 6th), but not my move of choice. With no other option, Ozzie brought out Scott Linebrink in the 8th. I almost thought we traded him. When’s the last time I saw him? Well, two walks by Linebrink (after 2 easy outs) set the crowd on fire. Boos all around. Then, he gave up a 3-run homer. I almost predicted it. I was about to write, “good thing we have a 7-4 lead because we need a 3-run lead for Linebrink plus room for Bobby.” I didn’t at the time because I was afraid to jinx things. I guess thinking it was enough. By the time it was the top of the 9th, this pendulum of a game had made me skeptical of everyone- including Jenks. I wrote, “What are the odds of Jenks not blowing a save?” Well… 24/28. Happily, he changed those odds to 25/29. Whew!

Random: PK’s pop-out tendencies make me miss Joe Crede. Alexei picks up another error.
It was a messy game, and the rain didn’t make it any better, but it matters that we won and we picked up another half game on the Tigers. Hopefully, this’ll give the offense enough momentum to support Big Game Freddy, who makes his start tomorrow.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Two Week's Worth of White Sox

As my internet woes of summer continue, I must accept that once again, I have to update once a week or so. (It’s actually been 2 whole weeks since my last update. Yikes!) Well, there is lots to catch up on, so let’s begin, shall we? First of all, I’d like to gripe about the fact that yesterday’s game wasn’t televised. In no way, shape, or form, not even just in the Chicagoland area. Was WCIU too busy with some King of Queens rerun? It’s things like these that make me really dislike the team from the North.

But aside from that, let’s talk about the last week in Sox history. Chris Getz (CARL!) went on the DL with a pulled oblique and called up Brent Lillibridge. That’s unfortunate, and something like his 3rd injury of the year. Kid must walk under ladders for a living. It’s also unfortunate for Sox pitchers (like Jose Contreras) because of Jayson Nix’s unfortunate defensive blunders. (Not that he’s the only one to make errors. Scott Podsednik has looked a bit like Ken Griffey Jr. in the outfield lately.) He has 9 errors on the year, which is kind of a lot considering he hasn’t been a full time player.

Jayson Nix is an interesting guy. He’s not the greatest hitter or fielder, but, overall, he’s a good asset to the team. He can play pretty much every infield position, he can play the outfield, and he has some power.

Along those lines, Mark Kotsay is pretty awesome. I like him. He’s not doing anything too spectacular, but as far as bench players go, he’ll do just fine.

Speaking of assets, we acquired Alex Rios. He’s pretty good overall, but he’s been getting himself in all kinds of unfortunate outfield entanglements lately. Maybe it’ll take some adjusting, but I am, once again, skeptical about Kenny Williams’s late season outfield acquisitions [See the trade for Griffey].

And speaking of acquisitions: Jake Peavy/Freddy Garcia. Garcia will be starting on Tuesday after his stint in Charlotte. That should be a nail-biter. He went 0-3 over 17 innings and had a very discouraging 6.25 ERA. Yikes. Peavy threw 3 shut-out innings last Thursday and should be up with the club by the end of August. That is, indeed, good news.

Alexei Ramirez (sorry, I couldn’t think of a clever, or even grammatically relevant transition) seems to be back in shape. Maybe there’s something about the end of the season that makes Alexei a home run machine, but he’s had 2 late-inning heroic longballs in just one week. Maybe that’ll help divert attention from his on and off lazy fielding.

Gordon Beckham update: still awesome!

Chuck Garfein had a post-game poll during today’s game, asking which of Kenny Williams’s moves was the best. The options were bringing up Gordon Beckham, signing Scotty Pods, trading for Jake Peavy, or claiming Rios. I think it depends on his definition of best. Is “best” the most successful move or the smartest? Peavy, so far, has made no impact on the game (aside, perhaps, from what Clayton Richard could have done in a start or something along those lines), so that is to be visited later. Trading for Scotty was terrific. He brought new energy to the club, he was the leadoff guy who filled a gap vacated by… well, himself, and he has my vote. Bringing up Beckham was a successful, but not smart move on Williams’s part. It was because he trusted Josh Fields. It was because, in the offseason, he didn’t insure himself against any failures Josh Fields would bring. It could have been a disastrous move for Gordon if it was too early. Think of what the odds were of a first-year, just-drafted rookie to hit over .300 and play defense successfully out of position. Congratulations to Williams, but it was kind of a shot in the dark. (In case you were wondering, an 53% majority agreed with me and voted for the Scotty move. How do you feel about the situation?)

In an ironic twist, Mark Buehrle was named the Pepsi Clutch Player of July. He sure wasn’t the clutch player of August. Or late July. Buehrle has been having real trouble since his perfect game, and I can’t tell you why.

In a big link dump, [Smells Like Mascot] wonders why no team in the AL Central wants to win the crown. Sox Machine takes a look at the future of the White Sox. If you don’t feel like doing the digging yourself, here are two links to his preview of [Jake Peavy] and [Dayan Viciedo].

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Small Ball Defeats Big Budget as White Sox Take On Yankees

Had you looked at tonight’s scoreboard and seen 14-4 and 2 errors, you naturally would have assumed that the score was in favor of the Yankees. You would have, of course, been wrong. Yes, the White Sox, famous for losing embarrassingly against their division rivals the Tigers and Twins, beat the famous New York Yankees. The Yankees gave up two separate 6-run innings, including 3 walks with the bases loaded.

It seems everything was going right for the Sox today, in their 3rd straight win against the New Yorkers. And the weird thing? Not one home run!

It’s really great to see that, the same way it happened with Danks and Floyd, investing trust and responsibility in youngsters is paying dividends- and sooner than expected. The Double Machine, Chris Getz (or as I’ve lovingly taken to calling him: [CARL!]) was 3-for-5 today and scored two runs and stole 2nd, then 3rd base. Gordon Beckham was 2-for-6, but knocked in 4! Even Jayson Nix was unbelievably productive despite his poor fielding. He walked FOUR TIMES today and had a double during his other at-bat.

Here’s something you haven’t seen in awhile: Bobby Jenks getting 3 easy outs in the 9th. Maybe it’s the pressure of the situation that gets to him after all.

But it’s not all fun and games. Although John Danks got himself out of a bases-loaded situation pretty nicely, he seemed to be struggling to get the ball over the plate at times. He seemed to rebound, but it was strange to see him falter around 72 pitches.

So, there you have it folks. The Sox wiggled their way back into second place, just 1.5 games behind the tigers, and 1.5 games in front of the Twinkies. Here’s to more good stuff as Buehrle faces Sabathia on Sunday.